Majik Man: Behind the Poster
In a sly attempt to renew interest in a little team called the Green Bay Packers, Get Wry contacted Perry Dale, high school classmate of former quarterback Don Majkowski and photographer of the poster above. Initially bothered by someone tossing pebbles at his bedroom window, Dale’s mood got better and he wound up telling his story over wine coolers on the stoop of his apartment building.
There’s only word to describe how it feels to be invited into the inner circle of Don Majkowski: Enchanting. No! Scratch that. Bedazzling. Whenever the Majik Man made it known that he trusted me enough to wiz in a cup for him or taste his food for poison, I’d fall under the spell of his bedazzling ways.
We grew up in Buffalo, cheering for the Bills and their star player OJ Simpson. “Heck of a running back,” we used to say. “No way he could ever murder someone— let alone two people.” Turns out maybe we were wrong about that, but not all of our youthful optimism went awry. We believed that someday Don was going to play in the NFL and never once murder somebody, and that’s exactly what happened.
Whereas Don was a natural-born athlete with golden locks slicked back like Richie Rich with attitude, I was a dumb nobody who got kicked off the Space Invaders Club at what was then called Orenthal James Simpson High School. Thankfully, my fortunes improved the day of the school talent show back in ’82. Wearing a black top hat and carrying a football and a can of RC Cola, Don took the stage last to a thunderous applause.
“Get a load of me,” he said. “I’m the Pigskin Magician.”
He asked for a volunteer from the crowd and my hand shot up. I’ll never forget the enchantment in his eyes when he gestured to me and said, “OK, shit or get off the pot.”
I was so excited I nearly tripped rushing onto the stage. Don finished his can of soda, set it on my head, and stepped back ten yards. A mighty cheer filled the auditorium when he fired a tight spiral to knock the can off my head—on the third try, after breaking my jaw and erect penis on his first and second attempts. Paramedics arrived, and after Don had signed autographs for them, he sauntered over to me as I laid on a stretcher.
“You wanna be my lackey or what?” he asked.
It was an easy question to say yes to, and so after graduation, I followed him to Charlottesville, where Don quarterbacked the University of Virginia Cavaliers, I cooked at a Chuck E. Cheese’s, and together we got bombed on wine coolers more times than I can recall.
The Green Bay Packers liked what they saw in Don. On the night before the draft in 1987, they called to tell him they wanted to pick him, but on one condition: That he change his nickname from the Pigskin Magician to the Majik Man. It was a long night of contemplation as I sat with Don and polished off a fridge-full of Bartles & Jaymes Raspberry Cosmopolitans, debating the pros and the cons of the nicknames. At dawn, he uttered the words that would indeed cement him as the Majik Man:
“Fuck it,” he said with a shrug.
We moved to Green Bay, where one of my chief duties was being his wingman whenever he wanted to bedazzle folks at the local taverns. Before Don made his grand entrance, it was my job to play the Heart song “Magic Man” on the jukebox. Boy howdy, did that make the ladies swoon! I can recall a night when just ten minutes after “Magic Man” introduced the Majik Man, he got down to smooching a gal in a men’s room stall. The guy even had an unbeatable pickup line:
“Know what the best part of a touchdown is? It’s when I touch down there.”
With that kind of swagger, success was inevitable, and indeed, in 1989, he threw for over 4,000 yards and got to play in the Pro Bowl. He was a cocksure superstar who told countless tales of his conquests—all the gals he’d vertically dry-humped in public toilets—but when I told him he had everything, he told me I was wrong. There was still one thing missing in his life: A poster to reflect how awesome he was.
Before a Sunday night game in 1990, Don threw his weight around and got me on the sideline under the official title of Majik Man’s Lackey/ Photographer. The Pack took an early 14-0 lead, and with 32 seconds left in the first quarter, he decided it was the perfect time to immortalize himself in poster form.
Sure, his teammates and coaches were outraged when he burned a timeout to stage our epic photo shoot, and some of the Vikings cried, but the second I laid eyes on the sleek magician getup he dug out of his duffle bag, I knew it’d be worth the trouble. And granted, many fans were upset when he ordered them to vacate a section of the stands because he didn’t want them “to ugly up the shot,” but the man had just thrown for over 4,000 yards, so what could anybody do about it? We may have ruffled some feathers, but we got results. Poster results. Just look at it! How he got that pigskin to levitate beneath his magic wand baffles me to this day.
It was the defining moment of his career, but he was ostracized for it. Suddenly everyone was branding him a prima donna just because they were jealous of his radical poster. Some meathead who called himself Tony Mandarich vowed to do a lousy job blocking for him, and so the Majik Man took some wicked hits. When he left a game with an injury in ’92, an upstart hillbilly whose name I can’t recall took over at QB. By throwing touchdowns and vowing that he would never call a timeout and change his wardrobe to get his picture taken for a poster during a game, whatshisname won the starting job and never gave it back to Don.
Things were never the same for Don and me after that. We bounced around, from Indy to Detroit, him backing up jagoffs with inferior posters, powerless to stop the declining popularity of both the Majik Man as well as Bartles & Jaymes. He had to retire. We moved to Hollywood in an effort to make the Majik Man Batman’s new sidekick in the movies, but had no such luck. In time we settled back in Green Bay. Better than Detroit, I guess.
Dale then offered to give us another perspective on the story by waking up his roommate Don Majkowski, who it turns out had been passed out on the futon the entire time, but it was getting pretty late. And so a source from Get Wry called it a night and stumbled home, pleasantly bombed on wine coolers and mumbling “Go Pack Go.”