Am I really doing this? I don’t want to do this. I would much rather let the NFL Season pass into the night with its fast-food-sub parity and dozens of babbling talking heads, low on grey matter, yet high on decibels. I would much rather turn my attention to a considerably more likeable Chicago sports figure, and current leader in the race for NBA MVP. I would much rather hang an active beehive from my left ear lobe.
However, this morning I turned on the radio and caught myself listening to the haughty and self-important Mark Schlereth, prattling on as he does – like the motivational speaker at the National Reacharound Convention. But more about him below.
5 days later and the nonsense hasn’t stopped. It has made a very frustrating and painful loss that much more infuriating. So I can’t help myself…
1st, I don’t want to defend Jay Cutler. He’s not a likeable guy. On the field, his mechanics are inconsistent. When rattled, his downfield reads can be questionable. Still, he is the best quarterback the Bears have suited up in the Modern era.
But these issues are neither here nor there in this case. He’s a villain, and cast as such, just as Peyton Manning is the hero, Conrad Dobler was the crazy, and Tony Siragusa-in-drag is the perfect Sicilian Grandmother. Why? It’s probably a few things not related to his on-field performance. Again, he might not be the greatest guy, though he’s not a criminal and does a lot of charity work under the radar. He’s aloof, and seemingly indifferent much of the time. Perhaps his most egregious offense in the minds of these critics is his failure to placate the media with the meaningless clichés, or do the forced rah-rah Tebow-act that professional athletes don’t even like in most cases. His PR is terrible, which makes it that much easier to focus on a 3 second cutaway that shows his smirking jerkface. By the way, what’s a 3 second snapshot of you at work likely to produce? Maybe it will show your brilliance or collegiality, but more likely it will show you itching your grundle. The fact is, he doesn’t care about his public perception, and those shallow hacks who prefer to pick at the cosmetic scabs of most stories don’t like that.
But here’s the deal: I don’t care that he doesn’t care about that stuff. Leave it on the field and I’ll judge you by your performance. Yes, when the stars of your favorite team are more likeable, it’s definitely an added bonus (see Derrick Rose). I also think it’s great when public figures such as athletes are truly ‘good guys.’ It’s awesome that Luol Deng contributes so much time and resources to helping the people of Southern Sudan. But I’ll package the one-time NBA Man of the Year, and whatever garbage salaries and draft picks necessary, on the first Frontier flight out of Midway if it brings back the enigmatic Carmelo Anthony. If I wanted to watch nice people do nice things, I’d bring a six-pack and lawn chair down to the Salvation Army.
But the reflexive ambush from 3 groups has been unlike anything I’ve ever seen in sports, and has been considerably more reminiscent of ever-present, baseless political “issues,” such as ‘death panels’ or ’9/11 Conspiracies.’ At the very least, it has certainly been something I have never encountered as a religious Chicago sports fan.
I mean, Scottie Pippen chose to sit out the final 1.8 seconds of an Eastern Conference Semis game against the rival Knicks, and the reaction was nothing like this. That’s ‘quitting.’ That’s ‘pouting.’ The dude’s still not tipping 15% on the full tab when he gets comp’d a free dessert around town. It’s ridiculous.
The 3 ‘groups’ I refer to are as follows – Current NFL Players, Ex-Players and the National Sports Media, and finally, Many of My Fellow Bears’ Fans (you know who you are)…
But first the facts: (My information is primarily derived from 3 sources – WBBM Bears’ Sideline and beat-reporter Zach Zaidman, WSCR’s Bears’ Insider and former beat reporter Lawrence Holmes, and Pro Football Weekly Editor, and longtime Bears’ expert Hub Arkush. These guys have a history of objectivity and 100,000x’s more knowledge as to the actual facts on the ground than 99% of all the mouth-breathers making grandiose assumptions and judgments at their whim to fit the fixed narrative, all the while gesticulating like retarded sea lions. Finally, there’s GW’s Senior NFL hack – me.)
First of all, the dude has been absolutely DESTROYED for 2 years. Sacked almost 60 times this year, and hit dozens of others. Yes, 57 fucking times. 92 sacks in 2 years with the Bears. 51 in 3 years with Denver and their decent-not-great O-Line. As a point of reference, Peyton Manning has never been sacked more than 29 times in any of his 13 NFL seasons.
Cutler played with a below-average (at best) WR unit, and without a doubt, the league’s worst offensive line. Throw in his 3rd offensive system in 3 years, and it’s amazing he has only missed 1 full (+ 2 half) games in his career.
The 1 game Cutler missed coincidentally followed the Giants debacle earlier this year, when he was sacked an NFL-record 9 times in the 1st half. After Osi Umenyiora + Co. were done repeatedly bouncing Cutler’s head off the Meadowlands’ turf. The concussed Cutler stayed in for another series, but was eventually pulled by team doctors because he walked back to the wrong huddle. Hilarious! Total weak sister!
After that, it was revealed Cutler failed to disclose previous concussions while getting his ass kicked by the SEC criminals when playing at undermanned Vanderbilt. But because he’s kind of docuhebag, when this was disclosed in the Chicago press, he was the bad guy then as well – because he wanted to play and was selfishly (and allegedly) failing to fully disclose his injuries to his teams at the time.
As for the NFC Championship (that was actually painful to type – which is partly why it took me awhile to get here…), Cutler wasn’t having a good game. Missed Hester twice before the injury, once badly. He was hurt early in the 2nd Quarter, probably on that inside rush when the Bears were backed up at their own goal line (where did that Packers’ ST performance come from?).
While he wasn’t ‘lights-out’ before this, the training and coaching staff knew something was wrong, and it clearly showed in the passes that fluttered from his hand as he was unable to properly plant his left foot.
According to Zaidman, the training staff + Martz wanted him benched at halftime, but Cutler begged the coaching staff to let him start the 2nd half. He did. It wasn’t good. He missed Hester badly on a drag route over the middle on a key 3rd down. After that, it was on to Todd Collins – and if anyone wants to make the statement that Old Man Adam’s Apple didn’t want to be out there, I have no argument for you.
The diagnosis came later – Cutler has a partially torn MCL – an injury that usually keeps players out 3-6 weeks.
The point is: He Was Benched. It was the decision of the training staff. The barrage of people questioning the guy’s ‘toughness’ is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve witnessed as a consumer of sports’ media.
But that didn’t stop the asinine knee jerk reactions from his peers (though not playing), who were apparently waiting in the weeds to ambush Cutler….
(Note: I understand a lot of these clowns have backtracked in the last few days. Quite frankly, I don’t care. Equivocate until the tarts come out of your guest bedrooms. It doesn’t change the fact that you couldn’t wait to sandbag a fellow player in one of the most violent sports around.)
Asante Samuel: Here’s a good one. This clown is like a poor-man’s Deion Sanders (below). He’ll head-hunt you if you’re a receiver who has left his feet, but if Marion Barber or Michael Turner squares his shoulders while running at him, there’s a good chance he’ll abstain.
If you talk alot of shit in your interviews you got to be warrior in crunch time. I am in total shock rite now.
If he was my teammate I would be looking at him sideways.
I luv my QB @mikevick he has the heart of a lion. I guess others are scared of success.
Man shoot that [expletive] up with a needle. He ain’t got to do much jus drop back and throw the ball.
By the way, Samuel was nowhere to be found when Cutler was carving up the ‘red-hot’ Eagles in a key Week 12 battle (4 TD, 0 INT). Maybe he should’ve ‘shot that shit up with a needle’ in even one of the 5 games he missed this year. Also, I didn’t know Cutler ‘talked a lot of [expletive] in his interviews.’ He’s a [expletive] boring interview – which is part of his [expletive ] PR problem. [EXPLETIVE]
Maurice Jones-Drew: I don’t have the energy to run through all the players dogging on Cutler, but MJD’s ‘Tweet’ perhaps exemplified the oblivious hypocrisy of many of the haters.
“All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee… I played the whole season on one…”
Well, no you didn’t. As has been pointed out, when the Jaguars were battling the Colts for a playoff spot in Weeks 16 + 17, he was nowhere to be found. But thanks anyway, MJD. That week 16 no-show helped a certain Peter Francis Yerfaci FFB team win some serious coin.
Then there’s Kirk Morrison who echoed one of the most annoying storylines that came out of this shit…
“If my knee was hurt or acl/mcl/pcl sprain, I would not be standing up on the sideline”
Yeah, I know you’re asking ,’Kirk Who?’ Well anyway, the Jaguars’ LB just wanted to lend his own diagnosis. Or like many, he might’ve just wanted Cutler to express a lot more pain – maybe Favre-it up with a really exaggerated limp. Let every douchebag meatball be able to point it out, “oh see, that guy’s in so much pain. What a warrior.” More on that later.
Finally, I also keep hearing about how Cutler’s “rival” Philip Rivers played in the AFC championship game with a torn ACL. That’s fairly misleading considering he was injured the week prior (not taken off on a cart?! – haha, what a pussy…) and left that game never to return. He then had a week of rehab and was fitted with a brace. Most importantly, how did the Chargers do that day?
But even worse than the idiot players are the idiot ex-players and national sports writers who are squeezing every incoherent ounce out of this story. Like a scandalous celebrity death, they all pounced in unison, quick to chastise and feed ravenously at the trough of the stupid.
Let’s start with Schlereth, who has had it out for Cutler since he came to Chicago. Until about 10 weeks ago, the one-time Bronco had his tounge so far up Josh McDaniels’ um, sweatshirt, that he couldn’t help but doubling-down repeatedly on his visceral hatred for Cutler. Of course, it took the Broncos franchise less than 2 years to realize McDaniels is a destructive and megalomaniacal asshole. Yet that doesn’t stop Schlereth, whose favorite hobbies (when he’s not whoring out his daughter) are apparently droning on about his Super Bowl rings and hating on Jay Cutler. The 3 time Super Bowl champion would have you believe he carried John Elway to glory. He had this to say barely moments after the clock hit 0:00,
“As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game!”
Oh hey, that’s really amazing! As SI’s Paul Daugherty opined, “Purple hearts for you, Mark. Ever think that’s a reason you had 20 operations? Let’s see you play with your grandkids a few decades from now.”
However, it is amazing that such a warrior missed more than 30 games in his 12 year career, including being placed on IR in 1993 with, wait for it…a virus.
Speaking of viruses, ESPN’s Trent Dilfer loves to hide behind his Super Bowl ring to mask the fact that he was like the dysentary-riddled 5th member of the Baltimore Ravens’ Oregon Trail team, carried to glory by arguably the most dominant defense in NFL history. He hated on the Bears’ and Cutler all season, and reveled in the Championship loss like the ugly kid with the shit-eating grin, so happy with himself the day after he hooked with the really hot girl because she was too drunk to know any better. Keep fucking that chicken, Trent.
Deion Sanders – Yes, Deion ‘the Matador’ Sanders! Among other things, he said Cutler should’ve ”Manned Up.” Deion Goddamn Sanders. The guy who missed games in 3 different seasons with the same turf toe injury. Or as Arkush said, “the only defensive player who will go into the Hall of Fame without having tackled anyone.” Deion Fucking Sanders.
These 3 guys exemplified so many members of the ‘fraternity’ whose bodies can’t cut it anymore, but whose shit-talking mouths are apparently still in their prime.
Then there was the cavalcade of gladiator scribes who couldn’t wait to spend a few days picking this low hanging fruit so they could submit a couple quick stories to their editors before patting themselves on the back and hitting the bar.
The most ridiculous was Jason Whitlock (who I sometimes like). He thinks the Bears organization faked the MRI showing Cutler’s partially torn MCL. The courageous conjecture really speaks to his gladiator intuition. Granted, he has 0 proof of this, mind you; but it probably got him a lot of page views.
Fox Sports is still pounding on the guy. Today Cutler was spotted with girlfriend Kristin Cavallari (way hot. i don’t care what you say) !walking! in LA. And he apparently wasn’t limping enough for their tastes. For shame.
Along with the armchair gladiators, the baseless armchair diagnoses were even more frustrating to hear.
And you know what? Fuck that. The injury is the injury. The guy picked himself off the turf 200+ times this year and never once threw out the ‘i’m injured’ theatrics so pervasive in professional sports. Why the hell do you care? Also, when did all these assholes pick up their University of Phoenix medical degrees?
“Why wasn’t he icing it?” “Why wasn’t he sitting down? Why wasn’t he limping worse? Why wasn’t he writhing in pain like a dick-slapped Egyptian? Why didn’t he attach a dozen leeches to his patella?
JESUS! Who are these clowns? According to Arkush, the Bears have one of the most well-respected training/conditioning and medical staffs in the league. After determining Cutler couldn’t play, the training staff taped his knee in order to stabilize it. Where the hell is the deference? They had 2 guys on IR all year!
Which brings me to the last guy…
Mike Ditka is one of the most overrated coaches in
NFL sports history, but because of his boisterous “fire and passion,” he’s revered and iconic. Like Patton, if the great general would’ve been victorious at Normandy, but then lost every key battle after that.
While not overtly criticizing Cutler’s toughness, he certainly added fuel to the fire, saying “Myself, I would have had to have been paralyzed to come out of the game. I don’t want to say that word. I would have had to be completely knocked out to come out of that football game.”
There it is – Setting up an impossible standard that’s even more impossible to disprove. Ditka is old and beat up, shrouded in the mystique of playing in a boring-ass era when the players were much less skilled, half the size, and 1/4 as fast. He’s revered for
being along for the ride coaching the most beloved team in the city’s history. He says baseless and irresponsible things that the meatballs love. Which brings me to the last group of haters…
Bears Fans - This is the most painful, yet probably the most predictable. This applies only to a minority of them, though an incessantly loud and annoying minority.
Chicago is a Bears town. While the NFL is by far the most popular league, at this point in time it’s not putting out the best product (relative to history, that’s cleary the NBA right now). That being said, as an avid supporter of all major Chicago teams not named the White Sox, a Bears’ Super Bowl win would mean the most to me. I’m guessing this sentiment is echoed by most Chicago sports’ fans.
Yet with this undying love of the masses comes a certain amount of blowback. Of the ‘diehard’ fans in Chicago, more idiocy emanates from Bears’ fans than from any other fanbase. It’s not even close.
Of course, part of this may be the nature of the sport and enthusiastic fans in general. While Packers’ fans don’t have problems making too much noise when their team is in their Red Zone offense (pathetic), they have their own unique manifestations of less-than-cerebral antics. The unqualified “Kuhhhn” chant that emanates from Lambeau during every short yardage down, regardless of situation, is classic meatball. They have one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, yet just can’t get enough of the slow white guy with the German name. I’m guessing the enthuiasm of this cheer also makes it a little uncomfortable for the one black Packer fan (Jerry). Whether it ‘s the referees, injuries, luck, or the playing surface, their excuse-making is small-minded and hilarious, and their quick response to blame (the very solid) Coach Mike McCarthy for any and every loss is even more so. In the off-season, I even heard some Packers’ fans criticizing their fantastic GM, Ted Thompson. You want him gone? Ok. Send him south a couple hundred miles.
But alas, this isn’t about Packers’ fans, of whom I’m friends with some, many who have been less than gracious in victory. It’s about a segment of Bears’ fans and their own clownish stupidity.
I essentially watched the game in a bubble, pretty much by myself, out of state - the only die-hard at a bar with some dudes who spent almost 2 quarters (seriously) talking about ice fishing. I knew a huge loss like this would result in kneejerk flame-throwing. It happens for every regular season loss, so I knew the exponential increase would be off the charts.
I was expecting it to be a backlash against Lovie Smith – the Bizarro Ditka who has never been properly appreciated in this town. He’s not a great coach, but very solid, particularly considering the front office has been one of the NFL’s worst drafting teams for almost a decade. He did his best job this year. This team was prepared. They played every down for him. They tackled well. They made adjustments when needed. They even won a couple close games. That being said, he was probably out-coached last weekend. While I don’t believe The Great Caleb Hanie deserved a seat next to Michelle Obama for the SOTU (as my buddy Paul said), having Todd Collins as your second string QB back-up was an egregious error – particularly considering what everyone saw against Carolina earlier this year. There were other things as well, though I don’t have the will or desire to relive it. At the end of the day, the Packers are a better team (though the margin isn’t as wide as some would believe). Ouch.
So there I was the next day, expecting to read the newspaper, or turn on 670 and hear the rapid succession of apoplectic ’Fire Lovie’ calls. Instead it was stories of fans burning their Cutler jerseys. Before any of the facts were in, they had already pounced. He was to be the target for the impotent rage of the defeated Bears’ fan. And it has been pouring down ever since.
Not since Steve Bartman has their been anyone in Chicago sports who has been so unnecessarily vilified. Even then, there was way more novelty and way less vitriol to that story (especially on a National level). Rex Grossman was ruthlessly hammered for most of his time in Chicago, though that was more underlying and ever-present, as opposed to the tsunami of ass-hattery currently consuming the town.
Just like people overlooked Alex Gonzalez dropping that double-play ball, no one seemed to care that the Bears’ defensive tackles did nothing, or that Bears’ Center Olin Kreutz was absolutely man-handled by (game MVP) B.J. Raji on almost every snap.
If this wasn’t the most painful loss I’ve experienced as a sports fan, it’s close. I still think the circumstances surrounding Game 6(+7) of the 2003 NLCS made that couple days the most crushing.
Still, the Cutler hate made this loss incredibly surreal. To their credit, most Chicago columnists not named Rick Morrissey remained fairly level-headed about the situation. I believe a lot of my fellow fans sympathized with the guy and the unfair treatment he received.
Yet the hyperbolic reactions have said more about the critics than they will ever say about Cutler’s ‘toughness.’ Next year’s Training camp should be a lot of fun.