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It’s swing time for Bears legend Jim McMahon

Jim McMahfollows through Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. | Jeff Bayer

Jim McMahon follows through at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. | Jeff Bayer

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Updated: August 21, 2012 6:39AM



STATELINE, Nev. — Jim McMahon approaches his spot on the driving range at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, home of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, grabs an iron, then slips off his flip-flops.

Barefoot, McMahon proceeds to blast an assortment of shots for 20 minutes, even though a hospitality tent less than a lag putt away is handing out complimentary Crocs golf shoes.

Never one to conform — who can forget then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle fining him for wearing a headband? — McMahon isn’t selling his soles to the highest bidder.

“I don’t want shoes. I don’t like shoes,” McMahon told the Sun-Times. “I have bad [expletive] feet from all those years of fat asses stepping on them.

“So whenever I can go without them, I go without them.”

And that’s quite often.

A nine-handicap golfer, McMahon plays all over the country, helping out friends with assorted charity tournaments.

“I like being outside, walking in the grass, drinking a beer,” he said. “Nothing better.”

Besides, he said he doesn’t have much choice.

He has arthritis “everywhere,” and golf is his only form of exercise.

“Otherwise, I’d be sitting at home, watching TV,” he said.

And if that were the case, he probably wouldn’t be watching football. He didn’t explicitly say so, but McMahon seems, at minimum, disconnected from the game.

Asked if he watches the Bears, McMahon said, “Nope.

“I could care less. I got a lot of old teams. I played for seven of them. So I’d rather be out here, doing this, than watching that [expletive].”

Does the so-called Punky QB watch the so-called Mopey QB?

“I got no opinions,” McMahon said, referring to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. “Until they win again, you can’t really judge them. But I think they’re getting better. I think [Mike] Tice will do a good job.”

Tice was promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator, and McMahon respects him from their days together with the ­Minnesota Vikings.

“He’s a good guy. He’s smart,” ­McMahon said. “I think he’ll settle them down. They should do all right, but they still got the [Green Bay] Packers in their division.”

Beyond watching some highlights, McMahon said he doesn’t pay too much attention to football, which blessed and cursed him.

He’s in the College Football Hall of Fame, he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and a one-time Pro Bowl selection. But in addition to arthritis, McMahon has struggled with his memory, which is why he joined others in a lawsuit against the NFL citing negligence and misconduct in its handling of head-related injuries.

“My long-term memory is pretty good. I remember quite a bit of what happened before,” he said. “But short term? Guys I played with yesterday, I couldn’t even tell you their names. You see them at night and you say, ‘I just played with you.’ That’s frustrating.

“With the amount of money that the NFL has and what they make every year, they ought to be able to take care of the guys who forged this game.”

That, he added, includes the players he grew up watching and admiring.

“They’re hurting a lot worse than I am,” he said.

On the course, he has a relatively smooth swing, although he’s working on his consistency.

“It is a job sometimes, the way I hit it,” he said.

He once finished 10th in the tournament, but he’s a long shot to win this year.

“I don’t make a lot of putts,” said McMahon, who toyed with a belly putter and a traditional ­putter on the practice green. “That’s why I’m not on the leaderboard here.

“But I love coming up here.”



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