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Ex-Packer Charles Martin died

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A dozen pardons if this has already been posted. I did a search and didn't find anything.


This is from the Wednesday, Jan. 26 edition of the Chicago Tribune. I typed it in for everybody. I'm sure all Bears and Packers fans remember this guy.


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Charles Martin, the former Green Bay defensive end who body-slammed Bears quarterback Jim McMahon into the turf and knocked him out for the 1986 season, had died in Houston. He was 46.


Martin, who played for the Packers, Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons during his five-year NFL career, died Sunday at Memorial Southwest Hospital in Houston, according to a hospital spokesman.


"He probably died from complications of his renal (kidney) disease," Dr. Charles Aramburo, Martin's surgeon, told a Houston television station Tuesday. "We are still waiting for the results from the autopsy which will be definitive."


In 1986, Martin pile-drived McMahon into the ground after the quarterback had thrown a pass. McMahon was out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Martin was wearing a towel with the numbers of Bears' players on it during the game. McMahon's No. 9 was at the top of the list.


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I remember that game. He also had Walter Payton's number on his stupid towel list :D along with the numbers of all the Bears' skill position players. Gotta' love the Forrest Gregg approach to football.

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  Gotta' love the Forrest Gregg approach to football.






[devil's advocate]Resulted in as many Super Bowl appearances as Iron Mike's (though one fewer win) [/devil's advocate]


The guys is going to live on in infamy until the last person who saw that play is dead; raging, probably 'roided out, thug? Most certainly. Satisfying to see that c0cky punk McMahon get his, no matter how cheap? Maybe a little (just relaying the truth of how Green Bay fans feel about it - fess up, if Favre got taken out by a cheap shot (maybe not the most fair example, most Bear fans regard him as GB fans regard Payton - a near-saint, no matter the uniform - but anyway, I think in Illinois it would be 95% feeling anger/indignance/disgust and 5% feeling it was just comeuppance).

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[devil's advocate]The guys is going to live on in infamy until the last person who saw that play is dead; raging, probably 'roided out, thug? Most certainly. Satisfying to see that c0cky punk McMahon get his, no matter how cheap?






Agreed that McMahon had an ego the size of Montana. The "midget" comment about Flutie was stupid.


That said, he was gritty and got the job done.

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Oh, I completely agree McMahon was 100% pure winner, just about everywhere he played - BYU, Chicago, Philly, Minny (about his only hiccup was his year going 4-8 (IIRC) in SD in '88) - but if he wasn't on your team, you couldn't wait for someone to slap that look off his face. Not any look in particular, just whatever look he had at the time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's easy to use labels (i.e. calling Charles Martin a thug). There is more to the story, as told by the chicago tribune.


The man behind the mean



To Bears fans, Charles Martin will always be recalled for the body slam that ended Jim McMahon's season in 1986. But there was more to the man they buried Monday.


By David Haugh

Tribune staff reporter


January 31, 2005, 11:27 PM CST


CANTON, Ga. -- Years before he threw quarterback Jim McMahon to the Soldier Field turf to ruin any realistic hopes the Bears had of repeating as Super Bowl champions in 1986, former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Charles Martin struggled with knowing when to stop.


Almost daily during football practice at Cherokee High School, coach Danny Cronic got mad when the player he loved like a son became overly aggressive. Routinely, the play did not stop at the whistle; the play stopped when Martin landed on the ball carrier.


One day after Martin unnecessarily had piled on top of a running back half his size, Cronic pounced on Martin.


"Charles!" Cronic screamed. "You are just too mean!"


Charles "Too Mean" Martin. The nickname stuck.


"Too Mean" Martin died too soon last Monday at his home in Houston at the age of 46.


Doctors told the family that Martin's kidneys failed after his spleen had ruptured. He had been unemployed, living off his NFL pension and undergoing regular dialysis treatments for the past decade after chronic high blood pressure ended his NFL career with Tampa Bay in 1990.


From nothing to something


Martin was buried Monday on a hill in the woods at Woodstock Cemetery just outside his rural hometown of Canton, about 50 miles north of Atlanta. A moving memorial service at the First Baptist Church celebrated a life that packed more into it than anybody imagined when Martin seemed directionless and penniless after quitting high school at 14.


Former coaches recited poetry they thought captured Martin's personality. Former teammates from Livingston University, where Martin was a Division II All-American, spoke of being fortunate to play next to someone so intense. Family and community members wept together.


Martin's 19-year-old son, Charles, who shares his first name and distinct facial features, fought back tears in a white suit that would have made his clothes-horse-of-a-father proud.


During one of the eulogies, a family friend read a letter from one of Martin's former teammates who used the infamous McMahon incident in an attempt to explain what made Martin tick.


"'Too Mean' just didn't want to run across the field without hitting someone that day," the letter said. "That's the way he was."


And it will be the way he always will be remembered, at least in Chicago.


The infamous 'hit list'


Martin took the field that Sunday afternoon on Nov. 23, 1986, wearing a towel displaying the numbers of three Bears offensive stars--9, 34, 83--McMahon, Walter Payton and Willie Gault, respectively, plus 63 and 29 for Jay Hilgenberg and Dennis Gentry. In Bears-Packers lore, the numbers scrawled on the towel will always be known as "the hit list."


After Packers safety Mark Lee intercepted a McMahon pass in the second quarter of a game eventually won 12-10 by the Bears, Martin grabbed McMahon from behind and body-slammed him to the ground.


"It was at least 20 seconds after the interception," said Jerry Markbreit, a retired NFL official who worked the game. "I don't think he had an awareness of how late it was, or that the play was over. McMahon was walking to the sideline, had relaxed, and he picked him up and smashed him to the ground."


Markbreit worked 461 NFL games over 23 years. He had never been so shocked by a player's action. To that point in league history, no player had ever been thrown out of a game for anything but a fight.


But Markbreit, bothered by the severity of the hit and a little concerned Bears players "might kill" Martin, ejected the defensive tackle and escorted him off the field. Markbreit's decision ultimately cost Martin a two-game suspension and $15,000 fine.


"The biggest call of my career," Markbreit called it Monday.


It even enacted a change in league rules. After Markbreit announced the call over the public-address system as "he stuffed the quarterback into the ground," the NFL incorporated language to allow player ejections for "stuffing."


Some Bears fans believe the consequences were even more profound for the franchise.


No Super Bowl week comes and goes without people in Chicago asking themselves why the Bears did not defend their '85 championship, given the personnel on both sides of the ball. The name Charles Martin usually is part of the answer.


Martin dumped McMahon on an ailing right shoulder that had kept the quarterback out of action the previous four weeks and would knock him out the rest of the season. McMahon declined an interview request to comment on Martin's death.


Blissful ignorance


"I can tell you Charles was kind of surprised at the reaction of everybody to that hit," said Dacia Hurter, a close friend of Martin's during his time in Green Bay. Hurter, who now lives in the Chicago area, attended St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., and was with Martin the night he returned from Chicago after the game he was ejected.


"He brought that white towel over with him, but it wasn't like he was bragging or planned on hurting anybody," Hurter said. "You had to know Charles. He was gentle, childlike. He would not have known what he did."


Hurter described a naieve boy trapped inside an NFL defensive lineman's body, a guy blissfully ignorant to the ways of the world. He never opened a bank account in Green Bay despite earning a salary as high as $120,000 with the Packers, and Hurter recalls Martin regularly leaving wads of cash around the house. He rented furniture rather than buy it, and eschewed cooking and restaurant food for McDonald's.


The boy who grew up poor in a single-parent home with six brothers and sisters never really changed even though the NFL changed his life.


"Charles was a man given a simple heart who lived in a complicated world," said Natalie Wimberly, one of Martin's two ex-wives and the mother of his son.


Thus, nobody in Martin's inner circle said it ever occurred to him to apologize to McMahon or the Bears for his action. He might have felt remorse, but never thought to express it. His cousin, Rev. Daniel E. Varner, agreed that when the two discussed the incident as the years passed, contrition never came up and Martin's feelings never went beyond his reaction to the ejection.


"He always said he was just so determined to get the [quarterback], he got caught up in the moment and was in a zone so he didn't hear the whistle blow--though that's no excuse," said Varner, who officiated Monday's service.


The infamy never embarrassed Martin or his family. In fact, Varner used to reference the incident as a means of bragging to strangers who his cousin was.


"I'd say, 'You know, the guy who threw down McMahon?"' Varner said. "And they'd say, 'Yeah, [No.] 94. That was him?"'


Indeed it was, and the play defined Martin's NFL career much more than his jersey number. But his family put him to rest Monday believing that it did not define his life.


"This is a man who came from nothing, who had quit on life when he was young but fought back, and look how far he came," Varner said. "There is greatness in that. There was greatness in Charles."


Path to greatness


As the story goes, Cronic had to lure Martin out from under a porch where he was hanging out to talk the teen into returning to school and trying out for football. The coach even had to wash the boy's clothes, which were filthy.


Once Martin was on the right path, Varner recalled the day he knew he had become serious about committing himself to earning a football scholarship.


One hot day, Martin had tied a clothes dryer on his back and was running up and down the hilly terrain of Pearidge Road to condition his body. Eventually, Varner said Martin graduated to lugging around a washing machine as a means of training.


Whatever method he used worked. Former Livingston coach Joe D'Alessandris, now the offensive line coach at Georgia Tech, marveled about the day a 300-pound Martin completed the team's mile conditioning run in 5 minutes 45 seconds.


"He was a rare athlete," D'Alessandris said.


He also remembered the time Martin's practice intensity forced the coaching staff to remove him from the kickoff team before he hurt somebody at practice.


D'Alessandris and a church full of loved ones swapped stories and traded memories about Martin for hours Monday as the sun brightened their glum day.


They honored a man considered one of the most dishonorable Bears opponents of all time.


"He went full speed all the time," D'Alessandris said. "I don't think it's fair to remember Charles Martin any other way."


Copyright © 2005, The Chicago Tribune




This article originally appeared at:


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