Comments about ‘Vai's View: Time is right for BYU to honor Jim McMahon’

Return to article »

Published: Friday, Sept. 7 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Las Vegas, NV

another example byu folks are in a bubble and unreasonable - please get out of Provo to see that there is more to life than the honor code

Salt Lake City, UT

BYU Administration's track record of people skills is not stellar.

Don't plan on Jim's acceptance. Sending Jim best wishes in his newest and scariest challenge in life.

Austin, TX

If there is a set-in-stone-rule that one has to be a graduate to be inducted into the HOF then BYU should really uphold the rule. Every member of the 1984 team that didn't graduate should be removed. Their faces should be sanded out of the team photo. (See, doesn't that rule seem silly now?)

BYU let McMahon play and reaped the benefits of the ticket sales/football victories...so keeping McMahon out of the BYU HOF due to Honor Code standards would be complete and utter hypocrisy on part of the school and those who support that decision.

Jim McMahon IMO is the greatest football player to have ever played for BYU. As long as BYU is going to keep Foot'Baal' as an item to be worshipped--Mac should definitely be inducted.

Andrew J. Marksen
Deseret, UT

There is the desire to be great, and a great desire to be different. At BYU often times these intersect and when they do, it causes problems among the Cougar faithful. Those of us who grew up in the 80’s remember the hypocrisy, and gotcha attitude. High profile athletes, and many low profile athletes can attest to the climate created by those with the great desire to be different. Those of us who were watching BYU in the early to mid 80’s tasted a level of greatness that may never be duplicated again at BYU. We also know the stories, because again that incessant desire to be different caused tremendous problems. Jimmy Mac called it how he saw it. The one undeniable fact about the man was his desire to be great, and be himself. Vai is correct the hypocrisy runs deep. The Mo story highlights that. There must be application of principle tempered by compassion and mercy. What harm would be done by inducting Jimmy Mac? Forgiveness is not always about convenience. As BYU faithful, we must evolve past the great desire to be different and desire to be great. We can do better.

Provo, UT

The point isn't to compare McMahon to these others, but to highlight that many of BYU's greatest footballers also don't qualify for HOF honors. Vai is advocating a clear double standard here and if he's honest with himself, he'll acknowledge it. Giving this award to McMahon would be a very slippery slope, as many of BYU's all time greats are in the same boat.

Blue Rampage
Salt Lake City, UT

How about a completely NEW rule for BYU? A rule that BYU administration and others can try to apply on a daily basis. A rule that all too often is subordinated by so many of the other rules at BYU. The rule I suggest is something I will steal from my former employer, IBM:


Thank you, Vai Sikahema for pointing out an area where BYU can improve. There are many instances and this is only one. Over time, as any organization grows, the tendency is to gradually replace "respect for the individual," with "preserve the organization." As this happens, people become marginalized, treated like numbers or objects rather than human beings. This is rampant at BYU just as it is with many large institutions.

Jason Buck has carried the flag onto the field. He's somewhat regular around campus on special occasions. He's LDS and hasn't fallen through the cracks. But a few other people have and it's time to start practicing what we preach.

Who has Mo Elwonibi's phone number?

Denver Brad
Highlands Ranch, CO

Vai, the thing about standards is that once you compromise, no matter what the reason, it's no longer a standard, and it can never be taken as a standard again once compromised. You yourself take the opportunity of talking about Jim to open the door to others. You aren't calling for an exception, you're calling for the standard of a college degree to be eradicated.

BYU has chosen to honor STUDENT athletes--those who have used college athletics for the reason college athletics exist and have used their time not only to play a game, but to better themselves through education. Jim McMahon not only failed to do that at BYU, but he failed to do it in the decades of life after BYU when neither time nor money were an obstacle. What you're calling for is for BYU to give accolades to those who do not represent the BYU value of education over sports. The same mindset that led to the downfall of Joe Paterno. Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another - too often ending in the loss of both--Tryon Edwards

Edgewood, NM

Vai makes a compelling case. However, If Jimmy Mac truly doesn't care, I don't know what good it would do to change the standard. I think a new category for HOF players who didn't graduate would be appropriate.

I am sorry about what was said to Mo. Those are the kind of careless words by a BYU administrator that tarnishes the otherwise great experience that is BYU. However, anyone who has spent time in the BYU environment for a few years while pursuing their degree has run into that kind of self-righteousness from the occaisional student or staff. I don't hate on BYU for that. I chuckle, and I move on. So should Mo.

Pleasant Grove, UT

I am a former BYU athlete, and I wholeheartedly disagree with Vai. Jim's current condition is indeed tragic, but Jim has been very clear about his lifelong disdain for BYU. He was never proud to say he was from BYU, and you admit he doesn't even care about BYU's HOF. So, tell me again why he should be the player for whom we should lower our standards?


Local Blue - Vai is being extremely modest in assessing his own BYU credentials for the HoF, so for you to say he did "nothing at BYU," is comical to those of us who watched him play. Arguably BYU's most famous play -McMahon to Brown to beat SMU would not have happened if 17 year old freshman Vai Sikahema doesn't return a punt 83 yds in the 2nd Q. That was just the beginning of what was an outstanding college career that landed him in the NFL, where he blossomed. Ask someone in your ward who may have seen him. Great as he was though, turns out he's even better with the written word. I can tell you as a Philadelphian, he's highly regarded in our city, it's a tough place, but he's beloved and respected. Obviously, more than in Sandy, UT.

Spanish Fork, Ut

Vai, I agree with you. If McMahon was good enough to stay on the team (and I mean that in every sense of the word), then he's good enough to be honored. If BYU had a problem with his violations of the honor code than they should have kicked him off the team - that obviously didn't happen because of his unique talents. Not honoring him makes BYU look petty and by honoring him, very little, if not nothing, is lost by BYU.

CA. reader
Rocklin, CA

What some are overlooking is the fact that McMahon owes just as much to BYU as some of you think BYU owes him. Who else recruited him? He said he wanted to transfer to Notre Dame after Marc Wilson started ahead of him 1979. Did Notre Dame have any idea who he was? Even if he had gone there, he would have spent what games he did play handing off the ball to some "star" recruit. He would not have been drafted in the first round by the Bears, maybe not drafted at all. Obviously his talent and drive would probably led to a tryout and an NFL career but he would never have made nearly the money he did.

In addition to totally disprecting the Church, BYU and the opportunity it gave him he has continued to portray himself as a victim. He claims he was kicked out of BYU yet in his book he joked about how he left school simply because he got a letter from the Honor Code folks. Now he shames himself and his family his continued immorality. That leaves a lot to be desired as someone to be honored by BYU.

Rocklin, CA

Vai, I enjoy your work but I completely disagree that Jim McMahon should be inducted into the BYU HOF. I respect what he did on the field, I enjoy his competitive fire, I loved his unique sports personality.

However, I grew up in the house of a BYU administrator. Jim did things beyond what has ever been discussed publicly. Things that not only put himself in jeopardy but others as well. Maybe if it had been confined to things that affected him only, I would be willing to look the other way. When it affected others, put others at risk, and he has NEVER apologized or even spoke about it, then no way he belongs in anyones HOF, ever. And it wasn't just items I overheard, I attended high school at that time and Jim's actions affected classmates of mine as well. And it was not confined to items of moral codes, it was beyond that.

I believe there is a reason Jim doesn't care and BYU does. Having observed Jim for a long time, I am fairly confident he will never discuss those things let alone apologize for them.

Enid, OK

Look, I LOVE Jim McMahon. That guy was the biggest stud EVER at BYU. His 'in your FACE' competetive attitude, athletically speaking, is sheer genius and BYU was blessed beyond belief to have a guy like him.


BYU is, first and foremost (as is every other college throughout the world) a place of academic learning, NOT a sports machine. Because of that, academics has to have priority. Think about it: the NCAA refers to them as "student athletes" and not "athlete students".

Yet I would LOVE to see Jim McMahon in BYU's Hall of Fame.

So, what to do?

Easy. BYU should, at the school's expense, pay a tutor(s) to tutor Jim through the last few classes. Literally send the tutors to Jim home town, cover their housing, their food and their transportation, for as long as it takes, and help Jim finish the classes he needs.

BYU goes the "extra mile" to help someone (which our religion believes), Jim McMahon earns a college degree, BYU doesn't have to bend the rules, Jim enters the Hall of Fame and adoring and grateful fans are happy.

Everyone wins.

Piece of cake.

What do you say, BYU?

Marysville, WA

Via did a good job providing his perspective as Mac's friend and fellow player. From the perspective of a student who was in the stands cheering the teams they played on, I can't agree that BYU should continue to make exceptions for McMahon. Regardless of how good he was as a player, he despised what the school stood for and delighted in being the source of embarrasment to it. I and all of my fellow "nobody" students I cheered with knew that if we were caught doing a tenth of what Mac was doing, we'd have been gone that same afternoon. We were relieved to see him move on. That said, I was glad to see him back and honored as one of BYU's AA QBs.

He's had a lifetime to complete his degree. If he's had no interest in doing so, why should it be BYU's fault he (once again) didn't meet a minimum standard expected of everyone else?

Honor him in every other appropriate way. Don't let him be an embarrasment to the university one more time.

Biased Coug
Canyon Lake, CA

I was the editor of the Daily Universe during Mac's senior year. We devoted a senior investigative reporter to see if all the talk about the wild lifestyle of our QB had merit and worthy of official disclosure by the school's student newspaper. This reporter spent months on the project and found some incidents we could have disclosed, but chose not to. Clearly, Mac didn't live the classic BYU lifestyle, but it wasn't so outrageous that we chose to ruin his BYU career by running the story. I'm with you, Vai, it's time to simply remove the graduation requirement from the Hall of Fame criteria.


ugh, too many people on here are using the word "flaunt" the wrong way. The teacher in me is cringing! McMahon was a great player. There ought to be a way to honor his blood, sweat, and well, he probably never shed tears so we'll say swears. He did flaunt his violations of the honor code, but again, that was a long time ago. He was a dumb college kid. Don't any of you remember being at that stage? He's come back to BYU. To my knowledge never said a bad word about Lavell, just some of the hypocrisy he saw at the Y. Let's be honest, that is one of the biggest gripes BYU haters have against us Cougar fans. We do have need of repentance. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Render unto Mac the athletic accomplishments he has earned. Let Mac's personal choices work themselves out. It's really none of our business how he makes his peace with his maker. Judge not unrighteously.

Scranton, PA

There's this thing amnongst those of us who call ourselves Christians called "Grace,", something that seems to be lacking here. For that school administrator to have grilled Jim on why he didn't get a haircut for his visit to the school reeks of legalism - or "Phariseeism," as Jesus would have called it. If Jim McMahon had been the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus, I somehow don't think Jesus would have required him to get a haircut before he could get into Paradise. Lighten up, folks - we all need the Grace of Jesus Christ, but if He held us to the same standards that some are holding Jim up to, none of us would ever recieve that Grace.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

A lot of people contributed to BYU's success who did not buy into the culture of the campus. Jim was perhaps more "in your face" about being different, but he was just one of many such players who built that stadium down in Provo and brought forth the glory years even though they were not LDS. The time to recognize Jim and many others is past due.

American Fork, UT

I believe it's the right thing to do for BYU to recognize Jim McMahon's athletic legacy and his contributions to BYU. For him to academically qualify to be inducted into the BYU football hall of fame BYU could give him an honorary degree, then by having a BYU degree he would academically qualify to be inducted.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments