Jay Cutler knows critics all too well.
When Cutler left the 2010 NFC Championship game with an unknown knee injury, players and pundits lambasted him. Across the nation, he came under fire for a lack of toughness and drive. The reputation lingered, even after a sprained MCL was diagnosed.
The much-maligned quarterback is receiving criticism about his personal life now, as CBS reported that Cutler sent a “less-than-appealing text message proposal” to his long-term partner, Kristin Cavallari.
The media has consistently attacked Cutler throughout his career. His detractors cite his demeanor on and off the field as a lack of leadership and tact. The Chicago Tribune gave Cutler an “F in leadership” after a 2011 incident where he cursed at offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
In conclusion, Jay Cutler is a tactless, whiny head case.
But do the critics really know Jay Cutler?
Cutler’s time in Denver was marked by a public feud with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, as well as outwardly petulant behavior in the face of a trade. From one perspective, his immaturity and churlish actions belied a mean-spirited and querulous player.
From another perspective, Cutler was an ultra-competitive youngster jockeying with another up-and-coming quarterback for dominance in a tough division. He was also a former first-round pick, fresh off of a Pro Bowl in his third season. Not many teams trade quarterbacks with those credentials.
When Cutler arrived in Chicago, there were great expectations. The Bears dealt Kyle Orton, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick for Cutler. When Cutler didn’t meet those great expectations, which were nothing less than a Super Bowl victory, he was criticized. The media pounced on his interceptions, apparent lack of toughness and sulky demeanor.
Cutler was also cocky. Imagine that: a cocky Chicago quarterback! Jim McMahon was just “punky.”
Dispelling the accusations of Cutler not being tough enough is simple. The injury that sidelined him in the playoffs was a ligament sprain. With the gift of hindsight, Bears fans should rejoice that Lovie Smith didn’t allow a Robert Griffin III-esque debacle.
NFC Championship injury aside, Cutler was also sacked a league-high 52 times that regular season. He’s tough.
Jay’s demeanor has become notorious, and is more difficult to defend. In fact, USA Today described his marriage proposal as being done in “the most Jay Cutler way possible.” Ouch.
Though Jay’s name is now a recognizable adjective, he still deserves a break.
Cutler’s only goal is to win. His drive likely led to his behaviors toward Philip Rivers, Mike Martz and most recently J’Marcus Webb in 2012.
In an early season game against the Packers, Cutler yelled at Webb and shoved him. The pressure on a quarterback is immense, and while he should not have berated Webb publicly, Jay has been on his back throughout his Chicago career. He was sacked seven times over the course of the game, and was clearly frustrated.
Chicago fans have condoned similar behavior before. Michael Jordan was notoriously critical of less talented teammates in practice. The only difference between Jordan and Cutler? Championships, which are Cutler’s self-proclaimed motivator anyway.
If you still think Cutler is an awful human, then explore his contributions to charity:
-The Jay Cutler foundation, according to its website, helps “underprivileged children and those suffering from diabetes.”
-Cutler visited sick patients in a Chicago children’s hospital in December of 2010.
-Cutler has worked with One Kid One World, which seeks to assist schools in Kenya and El Salvador.
-Cutler bought Monday Night Football tickets for the family of a murdered Bears fan in 2012.
Haven’t heard of his good works? That’s probably because Cutler tries to keep them quiet from the media.
Ultimately, Jay Cutler doesn’t care if this article defends or denigrates him. The media’s perception simply doesn’t matter to him. He will continue to be the “most Jay Cutler” Jay Cutler he can be.
And it’s good enough for Kristin Cavallari.