Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
By Pat Boyle
There are two things I know for sure about Jay Cutler: He is a very durable NFL quarterback and there are plenty of people who think he is a jerk.
The latter is the reason he was more popular on Twitter the last 48 hours than Jack LaLanne RIP shout outs. I get that Jay comes across at times like a smug, arrogant athlete who doesnt feel like media sessions and fan interaction are part of his job description. He gets paid to play football and Sunday, prior to his injury, he didnt do that very well.
Tweet all you want about Cutler overthrowing a wide open Devin Hester, but think twice about hitting send if you question Cutlers toughness. He has been sacked 92 times in the last two years. Triple that sack number and you will get the approximate number of times he has been hit.
READ: David Kaplan says Cutler controversy bigger than this
All of that punishment from some of the best athletes in the world and Jay has missed only ONE start. That day off came after he was sacked a record 10 times by the Giants and I thought for sure he was going to end up like Jimmy Hoffa under the Meadowlands turf.
The formercurrent NFL players that have taken shots at Cutler seem like a group that were not Cutler fans to begin with and are kicking a guy while he is down. I have never been to the NFL Network in LA, but after hearing Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders' comments, I can assume the studios arent made of glass. I figure its more like a White House, right Michael?
Brian Urlacher and Olin Kreutz did their best to end the Jay is a quitter stuff by quickly refuting his critics as soon as the NFC title game was over. I only wish the Bears organization had the same punch in their initial post-game remarks. Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo and many of Cutlers teammates came to his defense 24 hours too late.
WATCH: Angelo rips reactions
Everyone knows Jays reputation and how this story, occurring on such a big stage, could hurt their franchise quarterback for years to come. A better game plan may have eased the Cutler bashing and the potential long-term effect it could have on this team.
Reports say that Cutler was brought to tears after he was told his NFL brethren were ripping him. That doesnt sound like a reaction from a guy who doesnt care about his reputation.
Im hoping this fuels Jay to work harder at his entire craft and ultimately prove his detractors wrong. I hope the MRI results, that revealed a grade II MCL tear, are enough for most fans to understand that Jays knee was not stable enough to continue playing.
If Cutler keeps the Bears on course towards the Lombardi trophy, this knee issue will be forgotten. But, Jay also needs to help himself and realize some folks arent giving him the benefit of the doubt because of the way he carries himself. If Jay refuses to work on his image, this knee-jerk reaction could fester into a Donovan McNabbPhiladelphia Eagles kind of relationship, which deteriorated following his performance in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Social media has made everyone a reportercolumnist, minus the editor. You can tweet a disparaging comment about Cutler and maybe we mention it on Bears Postgame Live. While viewer feedback and opinion has become a vital part of many news organizations, its up to those mainstream media outlets to filter items that can be considered character assassination or a detriment to the rest of their audience.
One last thing - this criticism of Cutler was driven by his peers. If there were not dozens of tweets from the NFL community taking aim at Cutler, I dont believe this topic would have reached DEFCON 3.
Its funny, for years athletes have been blaming the media for unwarranted criticism and now they are the media, making unsubstantiated allegations.
Pat Boyle hosts Bears Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet. You can also watch Pat on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10. Follow him on Twitter @CSNBoyle.