I’ve been in a running argument with Bears fans around the city and around the Internet about Jay Cutler‘s qualities as a Bears quarterback. I was one of the few people who defended Rick Reilly when he said of Cutler:
“If he’s not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he’s in the running.”
Whether its justified or not, let there be no question anymore about the validity of that statement. Current and former NFL players couldn’t even wait until the game was over to absolutely savage Cutler. Via Michael Wilbon at ESPN:
“Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, a future Hall of Famer, tweeted, ‘I have to be crawling and can’t get up to come off the field. Josh Freeman would not come out. Meds are available … ‘ A few minutes later when the Bears sent their third-stringer, Caleb Hanie, in to the game and Cutler was therefore ineligible to return, Brooks tweeted, ‘There is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart.’
“Another future Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, said, ‘I never question a player’s injury, but I do question a player’s heart.’
“Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett tweeted, ‘If I’m on the Chicago team Jay Cutler has to wait ’til me and the team shower [and] get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room.'”
“Mark Schlereth, the former lineman and current ESPN analyst, said via Twitter, ‘As a guy [who has had] 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on stretcher to leave a championship game.'”
“And Maurice Jones-Drew tweeted, ‘All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.'”
Trent Dilfer, also at ESPN, was more diplomatic but basically said the same thing:
Wilbon explains the reaction:
“But we don’t hear those Peyton Manning-like stories about Cutler, how he comes early to practice and stays late and works systematically and demonically at getting better. What we hear, even from teammates in both Denver and Chicago, is that Cutler is an arrogant, pouting player who rates himself quite highly. It’s a characterization that is believed totally throughout the league, through almost any pro football circle you wander into. And because it’s believed wholly that Cutler is a guy with a big arm, an overrated sense of himself and little if any heart, precious few people in Cutler’s own fraternity had any sympathy for him during the game.
“It will be interesting, from what we know of Cutler, to see if he even notices.
“A former quarterback who wears a Super Bowl ring, who has studied Cutler’s entire career in the NFL, told me before he left the field Sunday, ‘The sad thing is that if he embraced working on the monotonous details of quarterbacking he could be great.'”
Wilbon confirms what I’ve been saying over and over again. That Cutler’s attitude is more than a minor problem. It is a symptom of a disease that will constantly hold him back. From dealing with the media to doing ex-players that made the game what it is today the courtesy of listening to them to putting in that little bit of extra work needed to be great, Cutler simply doesn’t do what he doesn’t want to do.
To Cutler’s credit, his more vocal teammates amongst the Bears did defend him after the game. And I totally agree with them that the reaction to the injury was unfair.
But that doesn’t make it meaningless. Few people doubt Cutler’s physical ability. Its the rest of him that may well always hold him back.