Thursday, January 27, 2011

Criticism Of Jay Cutler Blowing Out Of Proportion

It’s amazing how the most talked about quarterback after a conference title game comes is from the losing team.

After trouncing the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the playoffs, Jay Cutler was preparing for the biggest game of his life as the Green Bay Packers were headed into Soldier Field for the NFC Championship game.

What started out as an opportunity to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in his career ended up becoming a nightmare that the former Vanderbilt quarterback just can’t wake up from.

After one half of below-par play, Cutler would end up playing only one series in the second half and watched the rest of the game on the sideline as a spectator due to a knee injury.

It wasn’t so much getting hurt that was the problem, but what would come next. Former and current NFL players observing Cutler began shooting comments and negativity at him with the new form of bad mouthing and trash talking in the 21st century: “tweeting”.

According to the Bleacher Report, numerous messages from other NFL players began popping up on the Twitter website aimed at the Bears QB.

Asante Samuel: "If he was on my team I'd be looking at him sideways."

Maurice Jones-Drew: “All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee... I played the whole season on one..."

Darnell Dockett: "If I'm on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room! #FACT."

The situation has now even balloned to a point that the paparazzi found it necessary to film him walking around in Los Angeles with no limp or walk as if it were a scandal.

The line between playing through injuries and being tough appears to be thin according to those who spoke about Cutler not returning for the rest of the second half. There is an understanding as to why they would say such harsh words when numerous players play hurt and do whatever they can to remain on the field.

Yet, it’s hard to debate the toughness of a player who was sacked twelve more times than the quarterback who ranked second in that category. Despite taking so many shots by the opposition, Cutler only missed one game during the regular season.

So the big question in this whole fiasco: is this issue getting out of hand?

There are several reasons why the negativity circling around Cutler isn’t necessarily valid.

The first reason centers around the reaction from his teammates and those within the Bears organization. While Cutler is the QB of the team, everyone associates Chicago with LB Brian Urlacher. As he goes, so do the Bears, and when he speaks, his words usually resonate with the rest of the squad. So when he chimed in after the game about his quarterback, it’s more substantial in merit than what others tweet.

"Jay was hurt," the linebacker said, according to an ESPN article. "I don't question his toughness. He's tough as hell. He's one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn't b****. He doesn't complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays his a** off every Sunday. He practices every single day. So, no, we don't question his toughness."

The second part to this issue is the timing. It’s understandable to wonder about an injury when the player isn’t in the locker room getting medical attention or limping noticeably, but to publicly criticize him without any medical assessment is unfair. There should be no reason to bash someone’s durability and heart unless it was diagnosed that he wasn’t hurt or that his injury was so minor that he could have returned.

What about if he actually returned to finish out the game? Prior to the injury, he couldn’t even compile a single scoring drive. How effective could Cutler have been if he played the second half with an injured knee after playing awful at full strength? If he would have returned, third-stringer Caleb Hanie would have never orchestrated two scoring drives and the score might have not have been as close as the 21-14 score the game ended at.

Another concept to consider is the issue of jealousy. Is it possible that there may be a hint of that floating around with the tweets coming from players who weren’t playing in the game? Is it possible that they wish they could have been in the position the 27-year-old quarterback was in with a chance to win and head to the Super Bowl?

That feeling could have heated up as those who lashed out Cutler saw him sitting solemnly on the sidelines watching the game, just as they were. The big difference was that his team was playing in the game, and theirs weren’t.

Regardless of the negativity and why it’s unfair, the fact is that it is easier to kick a man while he is down. It is also extremely sad and disappointing to see all the bad feedback Cutler’s peers have poured upon him. It’s bad enough that he has to deal with losing the game that would have catapulted him into the Super Bowl.

Hopefully one day, Cutler will reach that pinnacle and vindication over all the doubters will be his.

Then, just maybe, he could finally awaken from this nightmare.

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