To say Jay Cutler is taking a lot of heat in the past 24 hours is a drastic understatement.
Players, media and anyone with a social networking account is blasting Chicago Bears QB for pulling himself early from the NFC Championship game because of a possible torn ligament.
After the game, Chicago Bears side line reporter Zach Zaidman seemed insulted by the notion of the feeling around the league. “The notion that Jay Cutler isn’t tough is ridiculous. He tried to fight the training staff to stay in the game with his knee injury” said Zaidman.
You want to know why fans and fellow players would be upset? Ok I’ve got a few…
- Johnny Unitas, who played in the real “tough man” era where “Roughing the Passer” calls didn’t mean a tap on the head but rather a dislocated shoulder. In 1958, Unitas played with three broken ribs and a punctured lung, he led then Baltimore Colts to the NFL title while wearing a protective harness. Oh and two years later, he played the entire season with a broken vertebrae.
- Byron Leftwich (though in college at the time at Marshall) led his team to victory after being down by 17 points when he played on a broken shin. He was in so much pain, his lineman carried him down the field after every play.
- Bret Favre found his way into this article but for a legit reason. As a fellow QB, Favre played with a broken and sprained thumb on his right hand, a badly sprained left ankle, a sprained left foot, a sprained left knee, a torn ligament in his left knee, a severely bruised left hip, and a separated left shoulder.
Want to know why Zach? THAT’S why. Its because when you are riding into battle, you have to be able to count on your leader to weather any storm.
I’m going to take a rather nerdy reference in comparing this Cutler situation to Lord of the Rings (which was on TV at the same time as the game–don’t judge me, I’m a girl and we can multitask). In LOTR, the future King Aragorn is at the front of every battle line, prepping his soldiers, giving them courage and is the first one to run into battle, no matter the circumstances or how much pain he is in.
To take it back to the real world of actual NFL football players; it wasn’t too long ago that Phillip Rivers was in the same situation as Cutler.
Phillip Rivers played on a torn ACL in the title game in 2007. He didn’t play well, but he played. While its up to the coach to make the decision on whether you should play or not, but if I’m a player that has worked my whole life to get a chance to go to the Super Bowl, I’m doing what Mark Schlereth said “As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to leave a championship game!”
Maybe the coaching staff was worried about an injury that could linger into next year? Guess what Cutler? You are the M’Effin President, you have veto power. There is not a coach on that sideline that would say “NO” to you if you really tried to play in the game. If they say no, you stand on the sideline, throwing and warming up your arm with your M’Effin helmet on, ready to go WHEN, not IF, the coach changes his mind. (Because really, what coach will really say No that many times?)
San Diego is not Chicago. The Bears are the embodiment of Mike Ditka and Johnny Unitas. How long do you think Cutler would last in Pittsburgh if he pulled the same thing in the AFC Championship game? He would have made the call within an hour of the game ending to put his house up for sale and demand a trade.
Another argument Cutler could have made? “If a lockout does happen, I could have TWO FULL SEASONS to recover instead of a few months before camps begin.” But again, Cutler didn’t do that. He quit at a moment his soldiers needed him the most.
Even the Jaguars own Maurice Jones-Drew had this to say “Hey I think the Urban Meyer rule is effect right now… When the going gets tough……..QUIT.”
But alas, Cutler does have some on his side.
Doing what a good teammate does, defensive leader of the team Brian Urlacher already knew what kind of answers the reporters would be looking for and responded by saying “I don’t give a sh$t about players around the league sitting, watching our game at home. We do not question his toughness, Jay is our quarterback.” At that moment, 99% of Bears fans wish Urlacher was a QB.
The bottom line is that when a whole team has worked their whole lives to get to that moment for a chance to go to a Super Bowl, its more respectable to leave a game on a stretcher than sitting on the sidelines.
Every team needs an Aragorn and Jay Cutler doesn’t have “It”.