Cutler Takes a Knee
Nothing is more romanticized in sports then the injured player who, with almost superhuman will, fights and scraps and eventually wins. I believe that is what bugs us so much about the Jay Cutler “kneegate” dilemma. Everything was so perfectly positioned for a climactic ending. Packers vs. Bears, NFC Championship, Soldier Field, rubber match, and on and on. As fate would have it the protagonist of this story is not our Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears. Instead, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers steal the show this year.
I have spent much of this week listening to people bicker about the severity of the injury to Jay Cutler’s knee. Going into the game on Sunday I had no idea that this would be what we would be talking about this week.
I have to admit, I’m disappointed that Jay Cutler’s knee has overshadowed the other content of the game. Jay Cutler is not the first player to ever be knocked out of a big game. I’ll admit he is an important component of what the Bears do, but the game moves on and there are plenty of other questions that need discussing besides why Jay Cutler couldn’t play with a grade 2 MCL sprain.
Like why did the Bears pass the ball 9 straight times in the first half without sprinkling any runs in? Why did the Bears have Todd Collins positioned as the #2 quarterback when Caleb Hanie appeared much more composed and aware then Collins? Why on 3rd down, with the game on the line, did the Bears run a Florida Gators style speed reverse which netted them zero yards?
Those are all legitimate and critical questions for the Bears to address. Whether Jay Cutler will be able to play with an MCL injury in the future does not improve the Bears. Mike Martz learning from these play calling errors could improve the Bears. Learning that Caleb Hanie could be a very capable backup quarterback in the future could improve the Bears.
Jay Cutler has been sacked 57 times this season. All season fans and experts have been saying that these unequip and inadequate offensive lineman were going to get Jay Cutler killed. Unfortunately it finally happened. The offensive line got Jay Cutler killed and now these same fans and experts are crucifying Jay Cutler for his inability to gut it out in the big game. As far as I’m concerned Jay Cutler has been gutting it out all season and the very fact that he was healthy enough to play in the Championship game on Sunday is amazing to me. I’m not the only one who feels this way, even Jay Cutler’s opponent on Sunday agrees. Since Sundays game Aaron Rodgers was quoted as saying “I’ve known Jay for a few years now and know what kind of competitor he is. I thought it was disrespectful, some of the stuff said about him.” Rodgers went on to say, “To attack a guy’s toughness, when you’re not playing in the game especially, I thought was very inappropriate.”
I had the privilege of attending the game last Sunday thanks to Gold Coast Tickets. It was one of the great treats of my life. I have loved sports since I was very young. I still play basketball nearly everyday, listen to sports radio, watch and attend games a lot, and sell sports tickets. Yet my passion for sports must be dwarfed by someone like Jay Cutler. He has spent his entire life playing football at the highest levels in order to be where he was last Sunday. I can’t fathom how much not being able to finish the game hurt him. It seems so presumptuous to assume that just because someone makes a lot of money playing football that he doesn’t carry with the desire to win, or at least enough desire to play through pain in order to win.
In the end it’s a trivial debate because it can’t be won and it doesn’t make the Bears any better for next year. So let’s do what we do every year at this time. Focus on the draft and focus on getting better.
Photo Credit Jamie Squire Getty Images