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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Giving Jay Cutler the benefit of the doubt

By Cindy Boren

The instantaneous Twitter frenzy over Jay Cutler's inability to play beyond the first drive of the second half of the Chicago Bears' loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game gave way to more measured reflection Monday as the World of Sports awaits the Most Important MRI Ever.

From Jim Trotter of

Cutler appeared genuinely hurt when asked about the comments, saying: "No comment on that." He then turned his back to reporters, fiddled with some things on a shelf and bit his lip as tears welled. He had been battered and beaten during the early part of the season, when line coach Mike Tice played with different starting combinations and coordinator Mike Martz tried to find harmony between his desire to throw the football and coach Lovie Smith's preference for balance. Yet he never complained or pulled himself.
Cutler says he knew something wasn't right when he took a hit on the outside of his left knee near the end of the first half. Doctors examined him at halftime and a decision was made to test it to start the third quarter, when the Bears would receive the opening kickoff.
He needed only one pass attempt to know the problem was serious. Cutler says the joint lacked stability and, at that point, the medical team made the decision to pull him, according to coach Lovie Smith.

ESPN analyst and former Redskins lineman Mark Schlereth was outspoken Sunday ("As a guy who had 20 knee surgeries you'd have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game! #justsayingand," he tweeted) clarified his stance Monday:

Players criticism of Cutler has nothing to do with how bad he was hurt. Its the perceived lack of effort or attempt to play hurt!less than a minute ago via web

From David Haugh in the Chicago Tribune:

The healthiest team in the NFL losing its most important game ever at home due to an injury to its most important player. Cutler is many things. He is not soft.
I rarely agree with Olin Kreutz on anything other than what day it is. But Kreutz provided the perfect response to anybody suggesting otherwise -- especially his NFL peers who ripped Cutler on the Internet.
"[Expletive] them, it's [expletive] stupid,'' Kreutz snapped. "I could see [his knee] wiggling when he was walking back in the huddle [late in the second quarter].''

From Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times:

The guy has missed only two games since he became a starter for the Broncos five years ago. He has been blasted and trampled -- he was sacked 57 times this season, including the postseason -- and he always bounces back.
He has played with Type 1 diabetes for years, and, if anything, he minimizes any of his burdens.
The trouble for Cutler is that he is a person who doesn't elicit much empathy. He appears cold and aloof in public, steeped in cliches when interviewed, and he neither courts our understanding nor seems to care about it.
In short, he's not one to get the benefit of the doubt in tough situations.

Bears safety Chris Harris:

Watching ESPN. To all of u IDIOTS including current players questioning Jay's toughness n fans burning his jersey need to chill out #stupidless than a minute ago via ÜberTwitter

By Cindy Boren  | January 24, 2011; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  NFL  
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Next: Report: Jay Cutler has torn MCL


The person burning his jersey is probably just a fat slob of a guy that watches TV all day and has never played any sports himself. Its just a game, get over it.

Posted by: nowhine | January 24, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't particularly like the guy, but I have to side with Cutler on this. If you look at his history, he clearly is a tough dude.

In his situation, with the injury he sustained, it's not a question of playing through the pain. If you can't stably plant your feet to throw the ball, you're going to throw a lot of errant passes. Further, it's going to hurt your mobility. The question that surely was going through Cutler's mind was, "In this condition, am I likely to hurt my team more than I can help them?"

The answer is, probably yes.

Suppose a receiver is going across the middle, catches the ball, and then goes to the ground right before he otherwise would have gotten rocked by a safety. Do you criticize the receiver's toughness for not taking a kill shot? Or do you praise him for not risking a fumble, and not risking an injury that would render him unable to help his team?

Unless you're a masochist, the answer is the latter.

It's the same principle with Cutler, except in his case he was already hurt.

Posted by: freakzilla | January 24, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I'd have to think that no one wanted to play in that game more than Cutler. He's not the greatest QB in the world but he's earned the right to play in a conference championship game. Forget questioning the guy's heart or bravado. He's injured or he'd be out there.

Posted by: BenThere | January 24, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm no Cutler fan, but I am so sick of Mark Schlereth running his yap on ESPN-- often making digs at the Redskins, I might add. Time for some fresh blood... and may he take the insufferable Mike Golic along with him.

Posted by: drischord | January 24, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

You have to give the guy credit for playing with type I diabetes. Just getting through the day without hypo's is tough enough, but to play QB at a high level is near impossible.

Posted by: Andymr | January 24, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I honestly sat there wondering what was wrong with him. I thought Lovie pulled him for poor play. the pictures of him showed him with little to no interest in the game and not in obvious pain.

However, I now question the medical staffs of these NFL teams. These teams are so into secrecy or have not clue on so many things. A high school trainer knows simple test to figure which part of the knee is injured. yet, these billion $$$ businesses can't have the slightest clue except to say he says his knee is hurt and he had no clue when he injured it. it make no sense really.

Posted by: oknow1 | January 24, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Is there anybody that Schlereth hasn't told that he had 20 operations and still played? That doesn't make him tough, it makes him (a) stupid if the operations were for something serious or, (b) kind of a weakling for getting hurt so often.

And, as long as we are getting rid of Golic, get Greenberg outta there as well. he is more annoying than those women "sideline reporters".

Posted by: jimbrooks99 | January 24, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

After reading this BS....

The trouble for Cutler is that he is a person who doesn't elicit much empathy. He appears cold and aloof in public, steeped in cliches when interviewed, and he neither courts our understanding nor seems to care about it.


Anyone who is in control of their interactions with the press is a guy I respect.

The good ole press who will put you on a pedestal one week and stomp on your neck the next week when you fall off of it.

I only wish he was bold enough to say something similar to what Kruetz said, like "expletive" Schlereth, and "expletive" anyone, including the fans and media. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW BADLY INJURED I MAY HAVE. All you can do is what you do all the time - fnnn speculate. So until you've walked in my shoes, kiss my ask.

I hope I got it right Jay. Press on soldier.

Posted by: keedrow | January 24, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I had several metatarsals (toe joints) crushed/fractured in an auto accident when I WAS 17YRS old. I was an elite athlete/runner before the accident.
After (2) surgeries, casts, walking boots, etc., and 3yrs of rehab, I fnally was able to start running & being athletic again.

I might be able to do (100 sprints)in a row one day, but on the next day the pain is so severe that I have to walk with a limp and cannot even jog fast! No doctor can tell me why this happens, but I can tell you that these so called "shots" for pain, do not fix my problem! Only Jay knows how ineffective he was "NOBODY ELSE" does!!

Posted by: Trophyjeff | January 24, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I am NOT a Cutler fan but Deion Sanders criticizing anyone for lack of tougness is outright laughable. The man is a potential HOF based on ability to return kicks and interceptions. They show video of his "tackling" all the time as blooper reels. The man never hit a soul in the NFL (maybe not even college) and commentary or not should keep his mouth shut about toughness unless that turf toe of his has finally healed up.

Posted by: mjg22 | January 24, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: swiftsmail | January 24, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: swiftsmail | January 24, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

So, unqualified and uninformed people contine to provide so-called insightful sports commentary.

Schlereth = twit-but not the only one.

Posted by: Towson_Tiger | January 24, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Cutler pouted when he couldn't get out of Denver. And he pouted on the bench yesterday, all by himself, after being removed from the game. I don't think "toughness" is what's at question here. Rather, it's his immaturity and self centeredness. He's a whiner. And a mediocre QB. Had the Redskins obtained him, they would have had two of the league's biggest babies on the team at the same time ... Jay and Fat Albert.

Posted by: Rational_Man | January 24, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

After reading the comments last night in the Tribune when the game was barely OVER, I'll be watching the Super Bowl and hoping that Green Bay gets TROUNCED so bad that they end up with NOTHING for a score!!! What a bunch of ARROGANT idiots!!! And no...I'm NOT from Chicago...

Posted by: slamming | January 24, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I second these remarks. Cutler is probably really hurt and toughness isn't the issue, but neither of those things change what these comments reflect about the guy.

Rational_Man wrote:

"He's a whiner. And a mediocre QB. Had the Redskins obtained him, they would have had two of the league's biggest babies on the team at the same time ... Jay and Fat Albert.


Posted by: fakedude2 | January 24, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

So you burn the Jersey of a player who led you to the playoffs because he got hurt in a big game and did not impress you by doing a Byron Leftwitch and have his linemen carry him to the line each play. Shows how unappreciative todays fans are. They treat their sports heros like you would treat a contestant on a reality show. Love them one week then hate them the next. Not one of them burning his jersey has ever played professional football.

Posted by: ged0386 | January 24, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Rational_Man wrote:

"He's a whiner. And a mediocre QB. Had the Redskins obtained him, they would have had two of the league's biggest babies on the team at the same time ... Jay and Fat Albert.

I bet he is more man than you. Its easy to talk tough on a blog. Go out there and take a couple of hits from Clay Matthews then come back and tell us how much more of a man you are than he is. You whine on a blog and are probably mediocre at best doing your job. Bloggers are always above the people they blog about in their own minds as usual. How many throws can you make?

Posted by: ged0386 | January 24, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm no Cutler fan, but I am so sick of Mark Schlereth running his yap on ESPN-- often making digs at the Redskins, I might add. Time for some fresh blood... and may he take the insufferable Mike Golic along with him.

Posted by: drischord | January 24, 2011

Remember who ESPN is owned by. They have to have something to talk about all day long. They have the ability to make something out of nothing just so they can have an interresting topic to justify their 5000 expert analyst on their programs. Remember they were complaining about Rex Ryan and the Jets one week for talking trash then were complaining all the next week because they did not talk trash. ESPN just needs something to talk about on Mondays besides just highlights. They need a juicy story to run with on Mondays so this week its Jay Cutlers knee, ake "the controversy". Notice the only people calling it that is ESPN and the people that work for them.

Posted by: ged0386 | January 24, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

They said that doctors made this decision to keep him out. If the football doctors say 'no,' there is no reason the player should be going out there. Lovie Smith should not have risked, or allowed Cutler to risk, his long-term health and/or ability to play football, or risk losing the player when they were still in the race for the Superbowl

Posted by: j762 | January 24, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

All the whining by know nothing twits is pitiful. They don't wear leather helmets or play both ways... so who's a wus?

Posted by: mrcomptech | January 24, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Lets criticize a black QB, oh, thats right, that would be racism, according to idiots.

Posted by: DCFanatic | January 24, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Why am I watching some moron who probably still lives in his mom's basement burn a Cutler jersey? Get a life dude.

Posted by: loux24 | January 24, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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1. Raymond Webber 6′2, 218 WR Ark-PB
AP/FCS All-American, Walter Payton Award Finalist led NCAA 101 rec. 1,429yds 10TDs 129.9ypg.only receiver w/ more receptions is Jerry Rice.Coach: Monte Coleman (don’t be stupid on this one)

2. Ricardo Lockette, 6′3, 199 WR/KR FVSU
2009 DII 200 Meter Champion 23 rec./232 yds. 4.39-4.41/40yd. dash Mentor: Terrence Mathis – track guy

3. Ronnie Childs 6′2 195 WR Albany State
BASN All-American, All-SIAC, SIAC Champ 11-145 rec./ 22ypc./12TDs – (all he does is catch TDs)

4. Jeremy Franklin 6′3, 199 WR/KR JC Smith
3x All-CIAA, JC Smith All-time leading receiver 55 rec/823 yds/5 TDs – fierce, beats up DBs.

5. Larrone Moore 6′0, 185 WR/KR Delaware St.25 rec. 450yds 4TDs, 18.8ypc – another track guy2x Maryland 4A 100m champ, 55m Maryland State champ 4.29-4.36/ 40yd dash (has Deion-like speed)

Posted by: typrather | January 24, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

type I diabetes + regular NFL player = toughest guy you'll ever meet.

Posted by: mr14sunshine | January 24, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Questioning a football player's toughness? Smart... very smart. I might as well question a boxer's kahunas...

Posted by: samiismoni14 | January 24, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Schlereth and his 20 knee operations. Anyone who has 20 knee surgeries and continues playing is an idiot. I don't buy this if you can breath you should play garbage. He had no stability in his knee. Teams will dump you in a heartbeat the moment you're unable to play. Why sacrifice because the professional athletes' ethos is that you play when hurt? Sandy Koufax retired at 30 because he didn't want to be on pain pills and crippled for the rest of his life. I respect that decision more than I respect the sheep who willingly become crippled for life to fit into the locker room culture.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 24, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to say this but these guys are paid to play hurt. And for what it is worth, he could have tried a knee brace.

Posted by: neil64 | January 25, 2011 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Play hurt if you are already addicted to painkillers. Not everyone loves the game enough to snort or inject meds as much as Ronnie Lott. Brady could play with a broken foot because NE's line is the best. LAvar can not even sleep in his own bed without pain. Cutler has been shell shocked for getting hit so much this season. Money is not enough.. Owners like Dan Snyder and overpaid players like Haynesworth hoard most of the money. Justified to Retreat. Teams should spend more time developing Offensive Linemen and protecting the qB.

Posted by: jercha | January 25, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The fans/players that are dunping on Cutler are beneath contempt.

Posted by: Jihm | January 25, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love all these tough geniuses that think they know more than the MD's.

In my 20's while playing soccer I got hit and tweaked my knee. It wasn't "painful", but just a strange, funny feeling for a moment. I did have the shakes a little bit, but thought it was nerves or something. So I walked it off, "tested" it on the sideline (seemed ok), then went back in. About a minute later I completely blew out (tore) my MCL and ACL and ended up with about 6 months of rehab. I wish I had the benefit of some medical expertise before that had to happen.

Posted by: markczar1 | January 25, 2011 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I commend Cutler actually for realizing he wasn't at a level that would give the Bears a chance to win the game. Brett Favre would not have done that, he would have stayed in the game, immobile and ineffective throwing interceptions just so writers would write about how tough he is, and how other people that have never played the game can espouse their expertise on how he wouldn't give up - all to the detriment of his team. Cutler had a torn knee ligament - anybody saying he should have toughed that out and played has never had a torn knee ligament. Just shut up. I'm not a big Cutler fan, I was glad when the Skins didn't acquire him, but he did the unselfish thing and what was best for his team.

Posted by: AsstGM | January 25, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Until a person is able to climb into someone else's body and hijack that person's brain, there is no way to tell how much pain someone else might be experiencing. If Cutler felt his knee was messed up, then I believe him.

Posted by: CAmira5 | January 25, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm having a hard time figuring out why people, especially Chicago fans, have their panties in a wad about this. Cutler was 6 of 14 for 80 yeards and an int to that point, for a 31.8 passer rating. Caleb Hanie more than doubled that for a 65.2 rating (second only to Mark Sanchez in this round), spurred a 4th quarter comeback and almost pulled it off. Why does anyone think Cutler would have suddenly become effective with an unstable knee?

Seems to me that Cutler coming out of the game was the right thing to do on many levels. But I guess we all need something to whine about the morning after, no?

Posted by: jeffgraham117 | January 25, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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