Hide the Cutlery! QB skewered in the court of public opinion

Surely it was the first time a professional athlete has submitted to an MRI thinking, “Please let it show something bad.” But that had to be Jay Cutler’s thought Monday, the day after he’d been branded a quitter on what we like to call social media.

Cutler is the Bears’ quarterback. He left Sunday’s NFC championship game one series into the second half and stood — as opposed to sitting; this would, believe it or not, become a major Talking Point — on the sideline as his team lost to Green Bay. All the while he was being lambasted in that strange corner of our new world known as the Twitterverse.

Twitter is the realm where the unexpressed thought need not apply. What you had for breakfast: Grist for the mill. What you thought of that contestant on “Idol”: Have at it (but keep it under 140 characters). On Sunday afternoon Twitter was awash with NFL players — some current, some retired, none with anything better to do — taking turns opining that Jay Cutler had flunked his audition.

From Maurice Jones-Drew of Jacksonville: “Hey, I think the Urban Meyer rule is in effect right now. When the going gets tough … QUIT.”

From Deion Sanders, formerly of many teams but now just another mouth: “I’m telling you in the playoffs you must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro locker rooms [and] this dude comes out! I apologize, Bear fans! . . . Folks, I never question a player’s injury but I do question a player’s heart.”

Never mind that these folks — and a dozen others — had no real knowledge of the severity of Cutler’s injury. They were watching on TV, same as everyone else. But their Tweeting fingers took a key development from a big game and turned it into a referendum on a man’s character. One after another, the Twitter audience rose to proclaim: Heck, I once played with a broken ankle — no, two broken ankles! No, THREE! And a open head wound besides!

Deion Sanders has the charming habit of ending his Tweets with the word, “Truth.” (Five characters.) Well, here’s the truth on Jay Cutler:  He was sacked 12 more times than any NFL quarterback this season. He has missed one NFL start in five seasons, that with a concussion. He’s also a Type 1 diabetic, which means he must carry a blood-sugar monitor with him at all times.

Until Sunday, nobody questioned Cutler’s manhood. His demeanor and his play, yes, but not his heart. And now, because he stood on the sideline — without an apparent limp! — in a game everyone was watching, he’d chickened out. (Never mind that the Bears insisted team doctors told him not to play.)

About here, we shake our head at the incongruity of Deion Sanders, who might actually have made a tackle at some point in his 14-year career, ripping anyone for an absence of grit. We wonder, not for the first time, why any professional athlete healthy enough to play would simply abstain. Mostly we wonder how it must have been for Cutler to hear afterward from reporters that “some players” had spent the afternoon calling him a wimp via their QWERTY keyboards.

Actually, we don’t have to wonder. According to Jim Trotter of SI.com, Cutler turned his back to the media horde when the question was asked. When he faced his inquisitors again, there were tears in his eyes. (Naturally, this was taken by some as further indication that he’s not a Real Man. Please.)

As night fell Sunday, Cutler had to be asking the question the former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan posed after being acquitted on fraud charges: “Where do I go to get my reputation back?” For the quarterback, the answer was — bizarrely enough in a story that has gone miles beyond bizarre — the MRI machine.

Imagine the reaction had his film come back clean. (Every Twitter server might have spit its bytes on the spot.) But apparently the X-rays showed a sprained medial collateral ligament, meaning a partial tear — and no holes where his heart and his guts were supposed to be. Naturally, some shrill voices declared Cutler still should have tried to play, that a MCL sprain is no big deal. And that, in our tale of New Media, sounded somehow old-fashioned.

From the dawn of time, there has been nothing that hurts less than someone else’s pain.

By Mark Bradley

119 comments Add your comment

rawdawg

January 24th, 2011
3:11 pm

Mark Bradley

January 24th, 2011
3:12 pm

rawdawg re-enters the fray — kudos.

misterwax

January 24th, 2011
3:17 pm

like you say, there is no way he can turn this around…even when urlacher backs him up. Public opinion is often quite harsh….but the Bears will be back.

dean

January 24th, 2011
3:22 pm

I have no dog in the fight, but there is no way I could be convinced that the man would rather be standing on the sidelines versus the playing field.

Also, I thought Neon “I don’t get paid to tackle” Deion was now a man of God. It true, he should know better than to run his mouth.

rawdawg

January 24th, 2011
3:24 pm

Cutler is soft

Dave in Buford

January 24th, 2011
3:24 pm

An MCL hurts, although frankly I’m a bit surprised he was standing around on it. Next year if they win nobody is going to remember this.

Dave in Buford

January 24th, 2011
3:25 pm

Oh, and I would hardly base my actions on anything Deion Sanders said.

dawgfacedboy

January 24th, 2011
3:27 pm

Is there such a thing as an NFL football player who is weiney?!?!? Isn’t that an oxymoron???

Prime Time

January 24th, 2011
3:27 pm

I never got hurt playing football, because I never made contact on the football field!

bigdawg88

January 24th, 2011
3:28 pm

Who cares as long as his teammates back him up. Use it as a rallying cry next season, but not against the Falcons!

Mark Bradley

January 24th, 2011
3:29 pm

OK, you might be asking: What’s with two Cutler posts?

The original was designed for online purposes only, but we kind of decided we liked the topic for Tuesday print. But I thought it needed rewriting for Print. So I did.

jerry

January 24th, 2011
3:31 pm

Deion is an idiot (5 letters). Truth.

F-105 Thunderchief

January 24th, 2011
3:31 pm

Great points that needed to be made, thanks for doing do, Mark.

Dawn

January 24th, 2011
3:32 pm

Arno

January 24th, 2011
3:32 pm

As a member of the ACL fraternity, after the initial pain, I know the impulse is to stand, or even walk around.

F-105 Thunderchief

January 24th, 2011
3:33 pm

katherine

January 24th, 2011
3:34 pm

“As far as Jay, Jay didn’t take himself out of the game. If you’re going to attack somebody, you should be attacking me. As a head football coach, and our medical staff, we’re the ones … he wanted to go back in. He was injured and went back in in the second half. So I see it as the complete opposite of how it’s being portrayed right now.”

Smith had no idea why players would criticize Cutler.

“You have to talk to them about that,” he said. “I just know what was going on. We don’t have any problems with Jay Cutler and what he brings to the table.”

Urlacher had his own theory on the players’ reaction.

“Nothing like jealous people who are sitting home watching,” Urlacher said. “Players around the league you said, right? Yeah, love jealous people when they’re watching our game on TV while their season is over.

It’s a shame…this would never have been done to certain other qb’s…and i’m not a Chicago fan…its just ridiculous.

TN Jeff

January 24th, 2011
3:34 pm

Had a torn ACL – walked off the field and watched the knee swell up. Surprised he didn’t don a knee brace & try to continue. The main issue is that he did nothing to try to help the 3rd string QB on the sideline who was trying to learn plays. He sat off by himself – this guy is a Jeff George, me first arrogant head case. Oh, and a perennial loser too.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley, Fire Paul Hewitt. Fire Paul Hewitt said: Excellent piece of writing. RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Another #Cutler post — QB skewered in court of public opinion. http://bit.ly/h4upID [...]

Mark Bradley

January 24th, 2011
3:37 pm

Thanks to you, F-105.

Hankie Aron

January 24th, 2011
3:38 pm

Couldn’t agree with you more Mark.

Riddick the Furyan

January 24th, 2011
3:38 pm

He QUIT on his team, plain and simple.

Hankie Aron

January 24th, 2011
3:40 pm

Mark- Add Jason Whitlock to your fray as well. Check out his column on MSN/Fox sports.

UGAFan

January 24th, 2011
3:44 pm

A little off topic, but I wonder about the Falcons next season. #1 seed this season probably means one of the tougher schedules in ‘11.

uga_b

January 24th, 2011
3:51 pm

It’s a stabilizing ligament that keeps the knee structure from moving. A sprained MCL will make it very had to turn or put any pressure laterally on the knee and if he played, he very well could have torn his ACL or PCL and say goodbye to a lot of this year playing. Why the heck everyone wants someone to stay in a play QB when they can’t drive their throws through the notoriously small windows in the NFL is beyond me.

Riddick the Furyan

January 24th, 2011
3:53 pm

Wait for the MRI results…

SoCal Dawg

January 24th, 2011
3:53 pm

Who cares if he went out! His third string backup played better than he did.

Mark Bradley

January 24th, 2011
3:54 pm

The MRI results are in.

Jeff George

January 24th, 2011
3:58 pm

He reminds me of me. The Jeff George of the millenium generation!

Riddick the Furyan

January 24th, 2011
3:58 pm

MB…you are so right…just a mighty sprain of MCL

Jeff

January 24th, 2011
3:58 pm

Here’s the deal. Mr. Cutlip wasn’t doing squat for the team. He gets hurt enough that Lovie uses that as an excuse to replace him with somebody…anybody. The Bears got a good QB with an attitude problem from Denver. They hoped for better but I saw enough games to know that Cutlip is not the person to bring the Bears back from a deficit. It had not happened all year, why would Coach Lovie think anything different on Sunday.

Reality Check

January 24th, 2011
4:06 pm

He has a stronger arm than Melty Ice.

fatz

January 24th, 2011
4:07 pm

from Mr. Bear Mike Ditka: “Myself, I would have had to have been paralyzed to come out of the game. I don’t want to say that word. I would have had to be completely knocked out to come out of that football game.”

you got to put this into context. Cutler is playing for the bears, not the 49ers or the cardinals. the city, the franchise, the division all pride themselves on toughness. its part of what sells tickets.

I’ve been posting a lot on this, and its because i feel there are certain moments in a person’s life where they have to stand up and be counted for, no matter what they do. and i think jay cutler missed his chance to do that yesterday. and i doubt he gets another one. he isn’t that good, and he obviously doesn’t have the character strength to push his play to the next level. sure, its only football, but if enough players take that attitude- that their own career comes before their team’s success (and i believe that is the prevailing thought process in today’s professional sports world), then the grease for the money machine – the fan – will eventually find something else to do.

Sonny Jackson

January 24th, 2011
4:09 pm

Seems to be a lot of angry people out there…

fatz

January 24th, 2011
4:15 pm

and to all those explaining his injury to me. Why, oh why, was he standing on it? i’m not saying he could have played, and i guess he could have aggravated it worse, and i also guess the 1st series of the 2H was the test and he couldn’t use it, but jeez, if he can still stand on it, you couldnt put a metal brace and enough tape for him to get through the afternoon? they had a non-player as his backup and a completely green rookie as number 3- you want to turn it over to them in such a huge game? it was really bad theatre.

Paul in RDU

January 24th, 2011
4:23 pm

Mark – Nice column.
Perhaps the armchair warriors who have commented about Cutler and the players and former players who think that they are so much tougher actually think that this clip is reality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKhEw7nD9C4

Vick Supporter

January 24th, 2011
4:23 pm

I know damn well Vick would have played. Ryan probably would have played too

T-Bone

January 24th, 2011
4:23 pm

Excellent article, MB!!! I listened to Mike & Mike this morning for a few minutes and they were working him over pretty good, along with guests and Twitterers. The man doesn’t have a reputation for dogging it, . . . until now?

gdawginkalamazoo

January 24th, 2011
4:24 pm

Cutler should be reading your blog Mark, right above your head in the banner ad, Cambridge scientist have a shocking discovery regarding joint pain relief. that looks like Cutler’s knee in the ad.

Fish Bisch

January 24th, 2011
4:26 pm

Every quarterback should ask themselves this question when they feel pain,”Would Brett Favre come out?” The answer is always no. We will miss you Brett.

Alan Johnson

January 24th, 2011
4:33 pm

You could read Cutler’s lips when the 3rd stringer was looking at the defensive schemes after his first drive had scored a TD. The kid is looking at this massive book filled with pics of the GB defense and looks over to Cutler. Cutler shakes his head and says, “Can’t help you, man…”

Check the tape. I am a Falcons fan and have no real interest in CHI or GB, but when I saw that, I knew Cutler had quit on his team. Defend him all you want Bradley but Cutler let his team down and quit on them.

justagirl

January 24th, 2011
4:35 pm

but I still know there’s big difference between standing on the sidelines and making the cuts it takes to avoid a pass rush. jeez is right, fatz.

jbird

January 24th, 2011
4:37 pm

Don’t know about Cutler’s injury but he was able to smile on the sideline. This is old school but I can’t imagine Johnny U. coming off the field expect on a stretcher and there’s images of Broadway Joe on no knees, just sayin!

JeanE

January 24th, 2011
4:46 pm

Jay Cutler is a jerk and a whiner so he’s not going to get alot of leeway in this situation. Brett Favre may be brainless, but you would’ve had to forcefully cart him off the field in that same sitatuion. Same with another brainless QB, Big Ben. and I know he’s a diabetic. But I still think something’s not right in that situation. You give it your all until you can’t get up and walk anymore, period. Not changing my mind because his “MCL was sprained”. Please.

fatz

January 24th, 2011
4:49 pm

justagirl, i guarantee you J Cutler wishes he had gone back in for another series, taken some more shots, and had been carted off the field. i guarantee you he’d do it over again if he could. somethings come from the gut level. most of the folks who are chewing on him today, like me, formed a very quick and lasting opinion from the visuals we put together watching that game yesterday. and i watched every play.

my gut screams “what, you can’t stand around if you are leading a team in a championship game before millions of viewers!”. my brain says something different, he would have been sub-par continuing, he might have hurt himself worse, and certainly he is being abused today for something that wasn’t all that well thought out. but sports – football- is all about gut reaction. its just the way it is.

its like i said in an earlier post- his coaches and trainers didn’t do him any favors with the visuals letting him stand around on the sidelines. they could have at least made him LOOK hurt..

SawThat1nce

January 24th, 2011
4:51 pm

Can’t really think of a reason why I should care about any of this.

"Chef" Tim Dix

January 24th, 2011
4:53 pm

It helps to be beloved, hell, even liked. Taking manner classes rom Jeff George never helps.

SawThat1nce

January 24th, 2011
4:54 pm

The Bears were not going to win that game anyways, with or without Cutler.

This Gets Old!

January 24th, 2011
4:54 pm

More than anything I think that it’s Jay’s demeanor that bugs people. The hands in the hand warmer, head down, coming off of the field and then…vanishing. Not up helping the third string guy, still mentally in the game. It just didn’t look good and fair or not perception can become reality.

Bobby Douglass

January 24th, 2011
4:55 pm

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The Black and Blue Division is no more.