I had no real feelings about Jay Cutler before Sunday, but now I do. And the feeling I have is pity for having been tried and found guilty of dereliction of duty in the high court of …
Social media allows us to type anything at any time for the consumption of a ravenous public. Anything a famous person types is treated seriously because that person happens to be … well, famous. (Not necessarily smart or wise or expert in grammar, but famous nonetheless.) When Cutler was unable to finish the NFC championship game, a host of pro football players — some current, some former, none of whom happened to be otherwise occupied with a game of their own — ganged up on Cutler via Twitter.
From Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville: “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.”
Also from Jones-Drew: “Hey, I think the Urban Meyer rule is in effect right now. When the going gets tough … QUIT.”
From Derrick Brooks, formerly of Tampa Bay: “HEY there is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart.”
We pause here to congratulate Jones-Drew on his new career as a diagnostician and Brooks for his post-NFL venture as both gastroenterologist and cardiologist. And now we move on.
From Deion Sanders, serial preener: “I’m telling you in the playoffs you must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro locker rooms this dude comes out! I apologize, Bear fans! . . . Folks I never question a player’s injury but I do question a player’s heart.”
Also from Deion: “I better see Dr. [James] Andrews operate live on Cutler and [backup Todd] Collins tonight after the game on NFL network. Truth.”
Here we note that the same Deion Sanders left the Atlanta Braves in the middle of a postseason series to fly to Miami to play for the Falcons. (He was back, via private plane, for that night’s baseball game in Pittsburgh, but his relationship with the Braves never recovered.) And again we move on.
From Gerald Alexander, Carolina safety: “I’ve never played in a playoff game. This guy was one game away and he quit! That’s BS!”
And here we note that if any player would seem to know something about pain, it would be a Panther: Carolina lost 14 times in 16 games, which put the Panthers not one game away from the Super Bowl but a dozen. And yet again we move on.
From Darnell Dockett, Arizona tackle: “If I’m on [the] Chicago team, Jay Cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room! #FACT”
From Mark Schlereth, lineman-turned-ESPN-chatterbox: “As a guy who had 20 knee surgeries, you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game! #justsaying”
And now we say: Enough. We get the drift: According to these “experts,” all of whom were apparently privy to e-mailed copies of Cutler’s X-rays, the guy chickened out. But what none of these Tweeting fingers and thumbs managed to answer was this rather basic question:
Why would any pro athlete choose not to play if he’s physically able?
Don’t tell me it’s because he’s a wimp. (Cutler was sacked more than any other NFL quarterback this season.) Don’t tell me it’s because he was afraid to fail. (Pro athletes are different from normal people: They always believe their next play will be the one that wins the game.) Don’t tell me it’s because the moment was too big for him. (Pro athletes spend their lives readying for such a moment.)
I don’t know what Cutler’s MRI — scheduled for today — will show, but I know what we’ve just witnessed. We’ve seen a bunch of guys sitting around watching a game choose to deploy Twitter as a cudgel. These guys weren’t in the Bears’ locker room at halftime. They weren’t standing on the sideline as Cutler stood by himself while his understudies worked. They had no more insight on this specific knee injury than anyone else watching (or not watching, for that matter). They were just mouthing off via their QWERTY keyboards.
Cutler is an intriguing case: He’s an irascible guy often faulted for not being as good a quarterback as he could/should be. It’s OK if you don’t happen to like him. Lots of folks don’t. But nobody deserved this tweetment. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)
Much later, one of the bashers seemed almost repentant. Tweeted Dockett: “I never questioned Cutler’s injury! But I know in an NFC championship game and I’m the QB? I’m gonna deal with the pain or whatever to win!”
Sure. Right. Whatever.
UPDATE: Bears coach Lovie Smith says today’s MRI revealed a sprain of Cutler’s medial collateral ligament.
By Mark Bradley