The Jay Cutler Rules

I’ve opted to do what so many in the media didn’t on Sunday, and that’s wait a day or two and gather information before saying or writing anything about the Jay Cutler injury.

I realize with Twitter and Facebook, many have a desire to get opinion out there as quickly as possible. But there is a lesson to be learned after watching ESPN analyst after ESPN analyst cover for themselves following critical statements about Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler and the accusations that he quit on his team.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, Cutler went to the sideline early in the third quarter after what is now being diagnosed as a sprained MCL in his knee. The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that it’s a Grade II tear. Those grades are on a scale of I, II and III.

I should start by saying that it is absolutely newsworthy when fellow NFL players like Darnell Dockett and Maurice Jones-Drew accuse him of quitting on his team or not giving his all. 

But I’m of the opinion that analysts and pundits should be more responsible. I expect those on ESPN and NFL Network to not act like they work for Fox News or MSNBC. I expect them to think rationally.

Yet immediately after Sunday’s game was over, ex-players now working for ESPN and NFL Network were critical of Cutler, saying that he should play through the pain and not pout on the sidelines without any news whatsoever regarding the severity of the injury or without acknowledging at all that head coach Lovie Smith himself pulled Cutler from that game.

The big reason why these accusations are being floated around was because Cutler isn’t a popular guy. In fact, he might be the least popular player in the NFL. There’s a perception he’s pouts and whines, though despite being the most-sacked QB in the NFL, I don’t recall much whining this year. So when ex-players see an opportunity to pounce on Cutler, they do so.

But after everything that’s happened over the last 48 hours, it feels like Cutler has become a sympathetic figure. Who would have ever thought that?

Many of these analysts backed off their statements on Monday, saying they didn’t “accuse him of faking injury.” ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the Bears should have given him an ice bag or crutches so in the injury looked more obvious, essentially blaming the Bears for what his colleagues were saying. Yeah, he really did say that. Check the link above.

Another former player – ESPN’s Derrick Brooks – criticized Cutler on Sunday for not being tough enough on TV and tweeted this (among others):

HEY there is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart

He also backed off on Monday, as you’ll see in this video. Now he’s saying he didn’t quit on his team, but he could be a better cheerleader.

So let’s chronicle the Cutler criticisms over the last couple of years:

  • He throws too many interceptions.
  • In 2010, he cuts down on INTs but leaves playoff game with injury, so he’s a quitter.
  • Well, he was really injured. But shouldn’t he be more rah-rah when he is injured? And he looks like he pouts on the sidelines. We’d rather see him giggling and laughing with teammates, despite having been knocked out of the biggest game of his life.

If the next step in the progression is, “We don’t like his hair,” then the Bears might have hope that he can be the next Tom Brady.