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Reader response: BYU's McMahon ban hypocritical
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Last week, James F. McMahon, father of former BYU quarterback Jim McMahon, shared with The Tribune his letter to BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, making his case that his son should be enshrined in the BYU Hall of Fame. We asked for your feedback, and Page 2 was besieged with mail from throughout the nation. Here are excerpts from some:

Honestly, I can't believe this is even an issue. Jim McMahon deserves to be in the BYU Hall. McMahon's performance as a BYU quarterback is legendary and, in many ways, unequalled.

McMahon really helped the BYU program ascend to national championship prominence. The records that he set, and his nearly unbeatable history gave BYU the attention of the national media and put the university in the same breath as Nebraska, USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and all of the other top programs of the '80s era.

It actually angers me when I see a BYU player wearing a No. 9 jersey.

Jim McMahon is not a perfect human being. He has made some mistakes in his personal life. However, "to err is human" for the best of us.

He is one of the truly great BYU football players of all time. That cannot be disputed.

Put Jim McMahon in the BYU Hall of Fame.

DEL WILLIAMS Pacific Palisades, Calif.

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Jim should definitely be in the BYU Hall of Fame and BYU should be embarrassed that he isn't. You don't have to be baptized to be a world-class athlete who brings great credit to his school.

JOE CRONIN

Salt Lake City

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I was privileged to be a student at BYU from 1980 to 1984, and thus enjoyed most of Jim McMahon's career. I cheered Jim at every home game from the stands and yelled along with my radio or TV till I was hoarse. I even became a Bears fan for a few years.

I have always been troubled by the dichotomy established in the handling of the McMahon situation. Behavior seems to have been overlooked while he was a star on the team, but then quickly and quietly used as a means to show him the door as soon as the gun sounded at the end of his last bowl game.

I cringed every time I heard McMahon deride the Y. in interviews during his pro career, but I understand his feelings especially as more information has come to light.

What he did for BYU football was incredible. He sure made my Saturdays memorable.

It just becomes problematic when an institution starts making exceptions to rules to accommodate one person. Then again, isn't that how we held onto Jim in the first place?

JIM BOWLES

Boring, Ore.

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BYU disgraces itself by not retiring McMahon's jersey and putting him in the BYU Hall of Fame. He was the Cougars' best QB - ever - and certainly earned the recognition.

Jim McMahon brought the first real national attention to BYU's football program and literally launched LaVell Edwards' career there. And this is the thanks he gets? It takes great players to make athletic programs and coaches great, and these players should be honored appropriately - regardless of their personal lives.

Shame on you, BYU, for not honoring those who honored you.

BONNIE WOLFF

Park City

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There is no doubt in my mind that Jim McMahon should be in the BYU Hall of Fame. If what is keeping him out is his legendary feistiness, then I would have to suggest that if he was sufficiently mellow to have avoided Honor Code issues to the extent that he was never suspended, then he should be fine with that issue.

Jim's career began the era when I had the privilege of traveling to nearly all BYU games. I particularly recall the difficulty BYU always had playing in Hawaii. [Once], BYU was deep in its own territory and it was fourth and long - Jim was also the punter.

The snap was too high, as I recall, and he had to chase it down. After retrieving the football, he ran to his left and kicked it with his left foot and, in the confusion, no one was back to receive the punt and it rolled inside Hawaii's 10-yard line. The game was very close at the time, and this play was every bit as crucial to BYU's win as any touchdown pass.

This guy could play football!

LOWELL FITT

Cameron Park, Calif.

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It is a downright crime that Jim McMahon is not in the BYU Hall Of Fame.

BYU football would not be what is is today if it was not for Jim McMahon!

The quarterbacks who went to BYU after Jim McMahon probably would not have gone to BYU if it was not for Jim McMahon.

LaVell Edwards Stadium might not have been named that if it was not for Jim McMahon.

In my opinion, Jim McMahon is the greatest football player I was honored to watch. Ask LaVell Edwards what he would do about Jim McMahon and the BYU Hall Of Fame.

BYU needs to make this right.

RANDY HOBBS

Salt Lake City

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I was in the stands watching as Gary Sheide appeared in his first game as a Cougar QB against New Mexico, and I have watched in person or on television every BYU QB since then.

Jim McMahon was and remains the best college QB I have ever seen play the game. If BYU allowed him on the field of play and benefitted from his athletic talent - which it certainly did (he was never prohibited from playing football because of disciplinary action or Honor Code violations and the positive national attention for BYU that came from - and still does to this day - his play on the field cannot be denied), the school cannot now turn its back on him.

By all accounts, he is a good and decent father and a dedicated husband. He has earned, over time, the appellation "a good man." But, more importantly, he was the best QB to ever play at the "QB factory." The Y. should do the right thing and give the man his due.

CHRIS FULLER

Arlington, Va.

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I sincerely believe that Jim McMahon is more than worthy to be in the BYU Hall of Fame. Tom Holmoe needs to get off his high horse and make a move. I would bet that a poll of BYU fans would result in overwhelming approval for such a move.

TOM HOLLINGSWORTH

Cedar Hills

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I am a longtime fan of BYU and a graduate of 1969. I read with interest and some heartache the letter from Jim's father. I sense his frustration and hurt, and his pride in his son.

I fully support inducting Jim McMahon into the BYU Hall of Fame. To me, he is as deserving a candidate as there is.

I have heard the rumors that Jim McMahon was no choir boy while he was a student at BYU. I knew many students who were not exactly lead singers in the choir themselves, male and female, but who never would be known for their antics simply because they were just another of the 22,000 students on campus.

But when you are in the public eye, word gets around, I guess. I never heard these rumors until years after Jim played for BYU. I don't know to this day if they are true, and I really don't care.

I believe we are about giving all people respect and admiration. To do otherwise casts a poor light on ourselves as Christlike people. Who wants a Hall of Fame with maybe the best quarterback to ever play for BYU not a part of it? Certainly I don't. We should be proud that Jim McMahon is a part of our history. We don't need to sanitize this.

DR. MICHAEL L. STEVENS

Salt Lake City

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Based on athletic achievement alone, there is no former BYU player more worthy to have his number retired and to obtain admission to the BYU football hall of fame than Jim McMahon. Obviously, he has been blatantly excluded from these honors due to perceived lifestyle and academic issues - so as to make an example of him.

BYU football is attempting to demonstrate in its typical image-conscious way that the program is about substance beyond what happens on the football field. A lofty ideal, indeed. Yet, actions speak louder than words.

Everyone knows that McMahon's lifestyle issues were present very early in his tenure as a star BYU QB. If McMahon was a backup QB or a non-athlete, do you think he would have lasted to the end of his senior season? No way.

BYU looked the other direction for Jim McMahon because he was a great player, and then dropped him once he no longer had a role to play on the football field. Hardly a moral statement. His football accomplishments are still second to none and it is wrong to treat him as a used up object now that he is no longer in uniform. The current stance toward Jim McMahon reveals deep hypocrisy and suggests that bending rules is only OK when BYU is the benefactor.

MICHAEL GLUTH, M.D.

Fayetteville, Ark.

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Given Jim McMahon's feats and other honors, I find it outrageous that he is not in the BYU Hall of Fame. If not Jim McMahon, then who would qualify more? I think even Mike Ditka would agree with this.

DEE NORTON-MICHELSEN

Salt Lake City

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Absolutely, Jim McMahon should be in the BYU Hall of Fame! It's unconscionable that he's not.

I agree with Jim's father that McMahon was at least among the top five quarterbacks to ever play college football.

He helped give BYU credibility, mostly because of his incredible QB skills but also because he was non-Mormon. BYU should be celebrating the fact that a non-Mormon of such football ability and leadership skills would be willing to attend and play for a Mormon institution.

RICK CRANKSHAW

Salt Lake City

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I couldn't agree more with Jim's father. BYU should treat all athletes fairly regardless of religion and personal beliefs, or they shouldn't be out recruiting non-Mormons. I can certainly understand why Jim has not returned to LaVell Edwards Stadium.

It's unrealistic for Jim Sr. to think that Tom Holmoe has the courage to correct this wrong. But I give him credit for trying.

FRANK GARNER

Salt Lake City

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