My, my, my. While Sunday was filled with on-the-field action and superstar performances in the NFL Conference championships, the morning after has been filled with never-before-seen drama and cutthroat slander in the court of public opinion. Jay Cutler, who often gets criticized for an apathetic ho-hum attitude, has rarely been criticized for his toughness. But during the 24-hour news cycle that followed the Chicago Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers, you might have thought Cutler was nothing more than a twig of a man.
Bears’ fans and haters alike (including several NFL players) joined together on Twitter to burn this quarterback in virtual effigy. All they knew was that he played in the first half, went into the locker room at halftime, then sat on the bench in the second half as doctors told reporters that he had hurt his knee. The criticism moved through pools of frustration as fans, especially, were noting that he showed no pain on the sideline, nor did he seem to be interested in giving aid to the two backup QBs who took his place. “Poor Jay,” they would argue, “just sits on the bench feeling sorry for himself. In a game this big, any other professional would play through the pain. He should try to emulate Brett Favre.” Really?
Well, the truth of the matter is that Cutler was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL going into Sunday’s game. This, as a result of a really poor offensive line, caught up with him when he took a punishing hit in the second quarter and still played to the end of the half. When he went into the locker room, doctors examined his injury and classified it as a sprained MCL. Why shouldn’t he play on it? Because a sprain of this nature means the outside of the knee has collapsed inward, thereby causing the inside of the knee to widen. Playing on a sprained MCL without the proper rehabilitation has the potential of risking the end of a player’s career. Nevermind a single game. Mr. Cutler is still in his late 20s, which means his NFL career hasn’t even crossed the half way point.
Regardless of the Twitter conversation that has, at times, sounded like a clip from ‘Mean Girls’, Jay Cutler has enough of an NFL track record to show that he’s a pretty tough guy. But for the next several weeks of his offseason, you’ll probably find that he’s wearing one of the many MCL braces used to aid in restoring a knee to its full strength. If there is any criticism to shell out, which there certainly is, the better issue of concern is why Cutler chose to warm the bench when he could have been discussing the offense with his backup.