I’ll admit that I was one who questioned the toughness of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler when he didn’t return to yesterday’s NFC championship game after a knee injury.
The first guy I thought of was Philip Rivers, who played the 2007 AFC championship game against the then-undefeated New England Patriots with a torn ACL.
And I especially questioned Cutler’s toughness when I saw him standing on the sidelines, instead of sitting on the bench or getting medical treatment in the locker room.
It was as if Cutler was benched and not injured.
But the talk of the sports world today has been the toughness of Jay Cutler, and quite frankly, it needs to stop.
At one point do we no longer believe athletes when they say they can’t re-enter a game because of an injury?
Trust me. If Jay Cutler could have gone back into yesterday’s conference championship game, he would have.
And when the Bears removed backup Todd Collins from the game and replaced him with third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie, officially sealing Cutler’s fate, you had to know he was seriously hurt. (For those of you unaware, once a team puts their third-string quarterback into a game, the starter—or backup—cannot re-enter.)
Then the news was released today.
Cutler tore his MCL.
That’s an injury that requires two weeks to heal. Not two series.
If the Bears had won and made the Super Bowl, Cutler would likely play.
But not five minutes after the injury occurred.
Does anybody really think that Jay Cutler wouldn’t come back in if he could?
Any professional quarterback, or athlete, would play through pain if he could. Cutler’s injury was just too much to deal with it.
When a team loses in the postseason, everybody needs to make a goat. Sometimes it’s almost like they create the goat.
Jay Cutler, a guy who already has a reputation as a whiny baby, was selected to play that role.
There’s only one way Cutler could have avoided criticism, and that’s if he re-entered AND led the Bears to a victory.
Because it Cutler re-entered the game, but the Bears still lost, it wouldn’t have been enough.
Cutler’s injury, coupled with the fact that the Bears were losing to a superior team, and the image of Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers spitting blood from his mouth during the game, made for a pretty rough day.
But Cutler didn’t single handedly lose the game. The entire team lost yesterday.