Jay Cutler

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By: Nate Jervey
Assistant Sports Information Director

Jay Cutler. The quarterback of my beloved Bears and, currently, the epicenter of the largest media hurricane since a guy named Nixon and a few innocent tape recordings. Ok, so it’s maybe not that serious, but the guy has come under some serious scrutiny of late and I am struggling with the reasons why. For those of you who don’t live in a sports-centric world the way that I do, Cutler was removed from the NFC Championship game on Sunday with a left knee injury. FOX Sports did not do a great job of reporting the severity of the injury and the repeated shots of Cutler looking disinterested and pouty on the sidelines led many fans, media types and fellow players (both past and present) to unleash a media maelstrom on the guy.

Many people questioned his toughness, his “teammateness” (yeah, it’s a word) among other things and it has become the lead story on a variety of sports-themed websites and televisions shows. Really, we are debating a guy’s toughness and the validity of his dejected look while on the sidelines? I find it nauseating that this trivial bit of information has become such a hot-button issue.

I, as a Bears fan, have no issue with him not playing due to a knee injury. With the league’s increased role in injury prevention and the “kid gloves” that players are treated with these days, is it any surprise that when a team’s franchise quarterback has a knee injury that the medical staff deems serious enough to keep him out of action that they do so? That’s what they get paid to do. So, no, I have no problem with Cutler not being able to play. Would I have liked to see him play? Absolutely. He gave the Bears the best chance to win. Am I willing to mortgage the future for a chance to go to the Super Bowl this year? Nope. At the time of the injury (what has now been called a grade II tear/sprain depending on you ask), nobody knew the extent of it, just that Cutler and the medical staff felt it serious enough to keep him off the field. ‘Nuff said, I am cool with that.

Cutler always looks so thrilled to be alive, but that is simply his personality.

The other thing that Cutler has come under fire for are his actions on the sidelines….or, rather his lack thereof. Cutler was largely shown as a disinterested and aloof bystander on the sidelines. Often having a dejected and pouty look on his face while interacting little with his teammates. As I stated in a debate in the office this morning, that’s how I would have looked. I get hurt and can’t play in the biggest game of my career (thus far) and I am supposed to look happy and content on the sidelines? @#%& that!!! Would I, as a fan or even a teammate, like to have seen him be a little more engaged and leader-like? Yeah, probably, but that’s Jay Cutler. Look at him when he is introduced as a member of the Bears. He ALWAYS looks that way, I mean ALWAYS and while outwardly he may appear to be disinterested, I can’t seem to remember any of his Chicago teammates saying as much this season. Me, personally, I would have seen an enthusiastic and ultra-engaged Cutler as disingenuous, as though he was hiding something. To me, he acted the way I would have expected and while it may not be what the media wanted, he is not catering to the media. He is not even catering to the fans, and those that think he should be are mistaken, he is to be held accountable by one group of people – The Chicago Bears Organization. Starting with the players, followed by management/ownership that is the only group of people that should have a valid opinion on his injury. As long as they are happy with his effort and him as a teammate, why should the media care?

The media and the analysts for ESPN and Sports Illustrated etc… get paid to analyze on-field performance and why plays happen for a reason. Some are asked to give informed opinions on a subject, like an off-the-field incident and how it should be handled, for instance. I don’t know of any analyst that was hired with the idea in mind that they would speculate about someone’s toughness and or ability to play based what they saw on television. Not a single analyst, or current/former player spoke to Cutler before the hurricane whipped up and the feeding frenzy began.

7:52 after the Bears – Packers game ended:

Analyst A: “Well Bob, he looked a little pouty on the sidelines and that leads me to believe that he isn’t hurt too badly and he is a giant wuss.”

Analyst B: “Thanks for that Steve. That was Steve Dorkus reporting from his couch in Ceder Falls, Iowa. Sportscenter will be back after this.”

Crack reporting fellas.

Sad state of affairs when a few screen caps from a football game can lead someone who was not there to determine the ability of a player to play. If you are watching from afar, keep your observations to how a player ran a poor post route, or why the pulling guard missed his seal, or how that holding penalty stalled a drive. Leave the comments about Cutler’s ability to play to those who matter – Cutler himself, the medical staff and the players/coaches. They were there and their opinions are the only ones that matter to me.

I guess that, in the end, it’s not the Cutler issue that bothers me, it’s that there IS a “Cutler Issue”. I have heard more about Cutler in the last few days than I have the impending State of the Union Address, the bombing at the Moscow airport that killed 35 people and the not guilty plea of a certain Tucson, Arizona native. That’s just sad th…..wait, er, you mean to read about those other “things” I have to change the channel from ESPN? I should try CNN? Oh, so you mean the Cutler thing hasn’t been everywhere, just primarily on sports television and Internet? Wait, they make non-sports television and Internet? Wow, this changes everything.

Ooh, look…a tv station all about food. This is awesome.

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