It seems I may have let my passion for quality football get in the way of my common sense. Sunday I jumped the gun and questioned Jay Cutler’s toughness when he decided not to re-enter the NFC championship game after the first series in the third quarter. I was one of the conspiracy theorists who thought Cutler was trying to find a way out because the Green Bay defense was making his life a living hell.
As the story has developed, it seems that Cutler did want to continue to play but the medical and coaching staff wouldn’t let him. An MRI Monday revealed that he did have a knee sprain. It is true that plenty of players have played on a sprained knee. Many have even played with torn ligaments in the knee, but each sprain is different and each player is different. So, I admit it was wrong of me to judge him for his motives in the most important game of his relatively young career.
And here comes the but. Whether intentional or not, Cutler has developed a prima donna persona. He has burned up all his “benefit of the doubt” cards. He came out of college with an odd unearned swagger. That translated into a tumultuous stint in Denver. He adopted the gunslinger style and has yet to develop the heroic side of that particular passing mentality. He’s thrown plenty of interceptions slinging the football around, but to date it’s only guided him to one winning season. There were times this year before Chicago’s bye week where he looked lost, befuddled and uninterested. Jay Cutler just looked bothered by it all.
So, to Jay Cutler I apologize for questioning your toughness. You’re an NFL quarterback who gets pummeled by 300 pound men for approximately 20 weekends every year. You’re tough. But you should know, I judged you by your reputation more than your actions on the field on Sunday. Here’s an idea. While you’re rehabilitating your knee, take some time to rehabilitate your reputation. Your teammates and fans deserve it.