Monday, January 24, 2011

Lay Off Jay Cutler. Now, Thanks.

I've never met the man, but if you're solely going off his public persona and/or the image he chooses to project in his interactions with the media and on the field, Jay Cutler is an arrogant, self-serving prick.

But if he's injured and cannot play, he is injured and cannot play.

So to the cacophany of Chicago sports fans, commentators and NFL players who have piled on top of Jay Cutler for a variety of things--pulling out of the NFC Championship, not fighting hard enough to get himself reinstated to the game, having the temerity to get injured in the first place--honestly, fuck off.

Sure, it was the biggest game of his career and likely the biggest sports event in Chicago since... well, ever. Does that mean, as it seems to mean for some fans, that he is required to set aside his own health to try and win it?

Let's be clear, here. Cutler wasn't playing well at all. He overthrew Devin Hester at least three times, including on a deep ball over Green Bay safety Charlie Peprah that could easily have scored, took two sacks and threw an interception. He completed six of fourteen passes for 80 yards and no scores. So the issue isn't that Chicago's Super Bowl chances died when Cutler exited; indeed, Caleb Hanie performed far better then Cutler did. No, Chicago fans want to blame Cutler because... well, he didn't try hard enough. That's it, isn't it? Lack of effort. Of passion, heart, intensity, desire. Lack of spine. And, especially from current and former NFL players, lack of self-sacrifice, of putting your body on the line for something greater then yourself.

The medical examination revealed today that Cutler suffered a torn MCL. Unless I'm mistaken, there is no precedent for a quarterback playing through such a knee injury as that, which affects his ability to plant and throw the football. Phillip Rivers played through a torn ACL in a 2007 playoff game, but he had had surgery beforehand that allowed him to play. Cutler had no such luxury. He felt pain, "couldn't really plant and throw" and was pulled. Players around the league can shut the hell up about their injuries, what they played through and what Cutler would be expected to play through. They were not him, they were not there.

Lambast Cutler for his lousy play, his bad decisions, his attitude towards the media and sometimes the fans, his relationship with his coaches, anything you want. But not about the pain he felt and that prevented him from playing. That's fucked up.

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