Rick Telander at the Chicago Sun-Times addresses yesterday’s Jay Cutler signing. The Bears bet big on Cutler, signing him to a seven year deal (though rumor has it that it’s only a three year deal with what is practically a club option for years four through seven). Telander hits upon an interesting point though it’s not exactly the one I would make:
“’The team elected him captain,’ [head coach Marc] Trestman reminded us there at Halas Hall. ‘He carries the weight of the team on his shoulders.’’
“The saintly allusion notwithstanding, it seems clear that Cutler has become a better teammate, a better, more mature person with time. His wife, Kristin Cavallari, the former reality-show star, sat in the corner of the room to Cutler’s right.
“She looked lovely in her camel-hair coat and high heels, particularly considering she is pregnant with the couple’s second child.
“Could this be the Bears’ Yoko Ono, ready to drive Trestman and his main pupil apart? Doubtful, even though Cutler said that he was now making so much money he didn’t know how to spend it, though Kristin probably did.”
Telander’s main thrust is that he is willing to believe that Cutler has matured to the point that he can lead the team to a Super Bowl even though he actually still has his doubts. I find myself in the same boat though I thought the final performance against the Packers was encouraging. He did a much better job than usual playing within the offense, throwing the ball through the end zone rather than forcing it on their best drive of the first half and at least trying to throw the slant route with anticipation.
I also agree with Telander (and Trestman) in that I found Cutler to be generally more mature this year both on the field and in the interview room (despite a breakdown or two). Telander jokes about Cavallari. But far from being a disruptive force, she might be more the cause for this change in attitude. Marriage, one kid with another on the way. It has a way of giving people perspective over time that they lacked before. I was just old enough to watch this happen with my own parents and I believe that it is not uncommon.
It’s been interesting to watch Cutler grow in Chicago, going from the young, single star quarterback who hit the bars with his favorite tight end (drinking alcohol despite being an advocate for diabetes) to – we hope – the stable young husband and father with responsibilities. And like it or not, we’re going to have ample opportunity to watch him, and the team, grow side by side for a long time to come.