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  1. #1
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    McMahon is up for challenge

    Posted on Sun, Jul. 30, 2006

    [size=18px]McMahon is up for challenge[/size]
    Vikings backup quarterback says he can erase doubts


    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press


    MANKATO, Minn. — Mike McMahon knows how most of you feel.

    You — the fans of the Vikings or, more broadly, the NFL — aren't impressed with his five professional seasons as a quarterback and aren't convinced he is a capable backup to veteran starter Brad Johnson.

    Consider the comments of two key evaluators.

    In May, when he was an analyst for ESPN.com, Rick Spielman questioned McMahon's ability.

    "I don't know if McMahon has proven to be a guy you can win games with if you have to play him," said Spielman, now the Vikings' vice president of player personnel.

    Marty Mornhinweg, the former head coach with the Detroit Lions and the assistant head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 when McMahon was with those teams, recognizes the prevailing sentiment about the sixth-year quarterback.

    "You could understand why there's not a lot of excitement, because he's been to two places and it didn't work," said Mornhinweg, who replaced new Vikings coach Brad Childress as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. "There are reasons for that, but hopefully this time it'll work out."

    The Vikings hope so, too.

    Although there are no questions about the ability of Johnson, who led the Vikings to a 7-2 finish last season, there are questions about his durability because he will turn 38 in September. In turn, there isn't a lot of confidence in a backup whose career record as a starter is 3-11 and whose career passer rating is just 55.1.

    "I've heard so much criticism, and you turn on the TV, and you hear so many negative things," McMahon said. "You know what, you've got to just go with it. Not everyone is going to like you. A few people are going to like you, and a few people are going to hate you."

    McMahon paused before adding, "A lot of people are going to hate you. But that's the way it is."

    Besides, McMahon wouldn't expect anything to be easy.

    He didn't start at North Allegheny (Pa.) High until his senior year, and he wasn't offered scholarships to elite football programs until he'd already committed elsewhere. And although he was projected as a first-day pick after solid performances at the Blue-Gray game and the Senior Bowl, McMahon wasn't taken until the fifth round. After a solid rookie season, during which he led the Detroit Lions to their only two victories, including one against the Vikings, McMahon believed the club wouldn't draft a quarterback. But the Lions selected Joey Harrington with the third overall pick.

    Even after he joined one of the league's elite franchises, misfortune seemingly followed him. The Eagles, who had reached the NFC championship game in four consecutive seasons, jumped out to a 4-2 start in 2005. But Donovan McNabb was lost for the season in November, and McMahon started the final seven games of the season without key personnel, most notably receiver Terrell Owens.

    "The whole left side of the line was gone, and his top three receivers and running back (Brian Westbrook)," Mornhinweg said. "Sometimes things work, and sometimes things don't. The one thing he did was battle. And, for the most part, we were in position to have a chance to win."

    Born in blue-collar Pittsburgh, McMahon said he feels fortunate to even have an NFL job.

    "Who wants to put a suit and tie on and go work behind a desk every day?" he said. "Not me."

    So McMahon lives by lessonshe learned from his father, Robert, who overcame quadruple-bypass heart surgery several years ago. For instance, in 1996, lightly regarded Rutgers was the first college to offer him a scholarship, and McMahon accepted. Later, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Miami and even Pittsburgh offered him full rides.

    "I could have gotten out of it, and people do it all the time. But my father taught me, 'Once you give someone your word, you stick to it.' So that's what I did," McMahon said.

    After his freshman year, when Rutgers went 0-11 with 11 freshmen starters, his mother begged him to transfer to another school because of the pounding he was taking every week. But his father reminded him of the commitment he'd made to Rutgers coach Terry Shea, now the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. McMahon started all four years, leading the Scarlet Knights to nine victories, and was the first quarterback in school history to be drafted.

    "He's a tough guy," Mornhinweg said. "And if you're highly talented, and a tough guy, with a great work ethic, things tend to work out for players like that at some point."

    McMahon, though, has a lot to prove at training camp. Although he signed a two-year deal, McMahon said he must produce in the preseason if he wants to last, and he's not counting on anything with draft pick Tarvaris Jackson also in the picture.

    "You're always competing," McMahon said. "Brad is the starter, and Tarvaris is the future, so they're going to keep him. Now it's me and J.T. (O'Sullivan). If I go out and lay an egg in the preseason, then there's a chance I can get cut. At the same time, Tarvaris is progressing very well … and he looks like a young Donovan McNabb, so I have to compete with him as well."

    Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said at training camp Saturday that McMahon has a great feel for the offense, noting his familiarity with the West Coast offense. The Vikings, like the Lions and Eagles before them, are enamored of McMahon's potential, given his size, speed and strong arm.

    That rare combination compelled NFL Films to tab him a few years ago as the next great quarterback out of Western Pennsylvania, in the shadow of legends such as Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Dan Marino.

    The 6-foot-2, 215-pound McMahon, though, knows one of the hang-ups that has limited his success.

    "I went to Philly, so I could learn from Donovan, who was a similar type player to me. He takes a lot of chances," McMahon said. "But I felt, maybe I need someone who doesn't take as many chances and learn from him and see how he works, because taking those chances is what gets me into trouble sometimes. So if I could play with a guy who plays more conservatively, I thought that could help me out as well."

    McMahon, 27, isn't about to give up on his dreams.

    "As long as you're working hard, and improving here and there, and showing that you want to be successful and that you're coachable, I think you can have a long career in the NFL," he said. "I look at guys like Steve Young, and Rich Gannon, who weren't successful until later in their careers. I hope I'm one of those guys. Maybe I get that opportunity that clicks. It's all about finding the right fit.

    "I just know I'm a fighter," McMahon said, "and I'm not going to lay down for anyone."

    Sean Jensen can be reached at [email protected]

    McMahon is up for challenge

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: McMahon is up for challenge

    Vikings backup quarterback says he can erase doubts

    I would like nothing better than for McMahon to do just that.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  3. #3
    BadlandsVikings's Avatar
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    Re: McMahon is up for challenge

    I only want him to do that in preseason. Hopefully we never have to see him during the season.

  4. #4
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: McMahon is up for challenge

    I guess I am reading all the bsad things about him and getting a negative feeling. But after reading this article I can see a lot of his trouble wen't all his fault. I wish him luck and really hope that he can lead us if BJ goes down.
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

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    Re: McMahon is up for challenge

    mcmahon is NO DOUBT TALENTED, he has a strong arm, is very athletic and fast, but he needs to calm down and take it one step at a time mentally. A talented o line and a good core of receivers and rbs should take pressure off of him.

  6. #6
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    Re: McMahon is up for challenge

    maybe he will be a good assett..... im really hoping so, he knows the system, he knows the coach, he has some talent in there. i dont think what we saw last year in a broken down philly team is his best - no one could play their best with that team.

    plus he is a pretty cool guy, he was one of the only players to come over to the fence and sign autographs for fans after practice - on a rookie training camp day like the one article said, only true blue fans are out there, there was maybe 30 something that time.. and less everyother time

    (i would have gotten his autograph but all i had for him to sign was the winfield jersey i was wearing, and like i want Mike McMahon on that :wink: lol)


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