I am not a Jay Cutler guy. He’d be one of the last qb’s I’d choose in the NFL for my team. That said, I wanted to scream yesterday as the talking heads and pundits around America talked uncontrollably about him not playing the 2nd half of Sunday’s game against the Packers.
The talk started immediately on Sunday as folks sitting at home in their overstuffed sofas, mouth full of chips, began calling him a wimp and a coward. On Monday, it’s all anyone talked or wrote about. A bunch of “Joe 6-packs” calling this NFL QB out for a knee injury. I’ve got two words for that: Busch league.
There are many things that bother me about this situation. First of all, if you watched any of that first half, you saw Cutler getting pounded, just as he did all season long behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. However, he kept grinding and fighting. Then his knee gets blown (2nd degree sprain/tear, if you’ve never had that then shut up). He goes out and tries to play before halftime, then talks his way onto the field after halftime. His first throw he can’t even plant, short hops an 8 yard pass, and is pulled. The Head Coach made that decision, with his advice coming from the doctors. Lovie Smith thought, correctly so, that his quarterback who can’t plant and throw, needed to come out in order for them to win. Yet Cutler is the one who is hanged for it.
The other thing that is driving me nuts is people talking about the “perception.” Jay Cutler has been the same stoic person since he was at Vandy. It’s just who he is. He’s not your Aaron Rodgers who fist pumps and jumps on his linemen. It’s just not his personality. Brian Ulracher is the vocal leader of the Bears, not Cutler. Yet folks are saying Cutler laid down because he was not fired up on the sideline. If you follow the Bears one bit, you know that it is just his personality. Period. America loves the “Cinderella” comeback story, but what America does not understand is that some of that is put on, and it doesn’t involve a knee. Playing with a broken thumb is not the same as playing with a torn knee.
I played ¾ of a season in high school with two broken toes. It hurt like the devil, but I could still play. Everyone plays football hurt. There’s not a player in the NFL who suits up a game not hurt to some extent. But knees are different. I also had to undergo knee surgery in high school due to a football injury. The knee is that one thing that limits you more than any other injury. I played with a concussion (not smart), broken fingers, and all sorts of ailments. But with the knee, there’s no playing. You can try, but it doesn’t work. Most importantly, it doesn’t give your team the best chance to win.
I understand that I am digressing, almost to the point of a rant. The fact of the matter is, it has driven me crazy to witness folks sit behind a computer or in front of a microphone and bash Jay Cutler for something out of his control. There is ZERO chance Jay Cutler was going to lay down in that situation unless he absolutely had to. You don’t get to that level as an NFL QB and not be a tremendous competitor. It just does not happen. That may be the most absurd part of this whole argument to me. Just put yourself in that mindset if you can. Do you really get to the pinnacle of the NFL not wanting to play? NO! The weak are the ones who don’t make it to the NFL. There are hundreds of quarterbacks in America who have great skills. Only a select few have the drive to get to that upper echelon of starting NFL QB’s.
Jay Cutler was near tears due to frustration of hearing people say these insane things. I can only imagine his pain; to know something that the public doesn’t understand, yet not be able to explain it. Forget the idiots like Dion Sanders who tweet from their home; I guarantee that clown wouldn’t have been playing with a torn MCL. The bottom line is, when you get taken out by the coach and training staff due to a severe knee injury and get hung publicly by it, that is just wrong. Forget the fact that he’s diabetic, and that plays into his stoic nature on the sideline. The bottom line is that everyone, from Mike Ditka to Joe 6-pack, needs to get a life and get over this. We don’t care if you played football hurt, everyone does. But you cannot play quarterback, especially in the NFL, with a 2nd degree sprain on your MCL.
I apologize for my rant, but it’s therapy for the soul.