My friend Jessy sent me an excellent article on the Cutler debate, Bears Jay Cutler Was Hurt By Lack of Character.
Aside from the initial few paragraphs the author spends lauding the ’99-’00 Dallas Stars (they STOLE that Stanley Cup from the Sabres! STOLE it. NO GOAL! NO GOAL! NO GOAL!) I agree with the premise, especially this paragraph,
“Because nowhere in the symptoms of Grade II MCL tear does it include the inability to high-five a young QB who threw a TD pass to get your team back in the game, looking disinterested or giving off a quit vibe. And I challenge anybody to find an MRI that shows him engaged on that sideline. There is no medical relief from that charge.”
The argument isn’t really whether or not Cutler was hurt, it’s how he handled himself. Which brings up the interesting point that as fans, we decide whether to cheer or jeer an athlete largely based on his commitment to team. It’s why we love underdogs, the 6th man, the fake punt (you know…when it works). We love people who show up every day and do their job every day without the spotlight…and we love when they get their 15 minutes.
Flip that, and it’s why no matter how stellar of a season Brett Favre had, once he left Green Bay he was collectively switched from our “good” lists to our “naughty” ones. Right or wrong, Favre’s actions scream “Favre,” not “VIKINGS!” (or “JETS!’ …ha. remember that season?)
But let’s think for a minute. Cutler wasn’t playing that well before his injury. Throughout the year he usually played well enough to win but didn’t exactly have career numbers (23 TDs, but 16 INT and 9 fumbles, sacked 50 some times…) Which begs the question: if Cutler had stayed in and played hurt and played terrible football…would he have been in any better position with the fans/media than he is now? Wouldn’t we be calling for his head for playing poorly while hurt? Finding grace at the pro level is incredibly difficult when there are 2 to 4 people in the wings waiting to take your job should you fail to perform it well.
So Cutler plays poorly, he get lambasted. So he leaves injured, he gets lambasted. He leaves with unknown injury and mysteriously sulks on the sidelines, he gets lambasted. You only want an injured, struggling Jay Cutler at the helm if he’s an inspiring leader – a guy whose very presence on the field through countless trials rallies his teammates and compels them to win one for the gipper!
But Cutler is not that quarterback. So why exactly is Chicago so angry? What did they really want out of all this?
Just a win.