Wrapping up the NFC's Central Division title a week before the end of the regular season left the Chicago Bears with little to do. So, they turned to an old pastime - intra-team squabbling.
Defensive tackle Dan Hampton took a verbal shot at quarterback Jim McMahon, who fired back at Hampton and team trainer Fred Caito. Hampton then reacted to McMahon's reaction. Now, Caito has his say.Bears will be Bears.
It started Thursday night when Hampton told WLUP Radio listeners that McMahon worried more about babying his frequent injuries than he did about the team. The quarterback responded Friday on WLS Radio, saying Hampton was "out for himself" and Caito was a back stabber, who "couldn't tell a compound fracture from a blister."
Hampton countered, "I've been in the league 10 years, and I've seen con artists come and go."
Caito issued a statement Saturday, saying he met the state of Illinois' requirements to practice athletic training.
"I wish nothing more than for Jim McMahon to recover from his knee injury and continue to contribute as he has in the past to the success of this football team," Caito said.
"We have suffered many injuries this season and all players have responded with a great effort. I know the sacrificies these players have made and I know they will continue to do so."
During the first shot, Hampton told a radio interviewer that the team should stick with quarterback Mike Tomczak during the playoffs.
McMahon will suit up Monday for the first time since Oct. 30, but Hampton said the Bears don't really need him.
"Tomczak is the guy the entire team is behind right now," Hampton said. "If we keep waiting on someone who more or less is not concerned with our future, I think we're lost."
Tomczak has been an effective replacement, winning the four games he started. He separated his left should Nov. 27 and was replaced for two games by Jim Harbaugh. But Tomczak will return as the starter against the Vikings.
The Bears activated McMahon from injured reserve a week ago, nearly six weeks after he sprained his knee. The team had expected McMahon to be available for emergency duty last Sunday against Detroit, but McMahon's doctor withheld clearance to play after examining his knee.
McMahon didn't waste much time in taking the offensive against Hampton. On his morning radio program Friday, he said the defensive tackle was "just whining because he didn't make the Pro Bowl."