Can you recall any time in NFL history when, on the Monday morning after the conference championship games, our No. 1 focus wasn't on the winners, but on a losing team's QB?
Jay Cutler IS the story of the day, and I've been trying to figure out if I can add anything substantial to a discussion that has really come down to:
(1) Was he dogging it? (HE WAS DOGGING IT!)
(2) Was he injured? (LEAVE HIM ALONE!)
And I think I'm going to focus on the question marks, not either side, because it is the question marks that define the story.
Jay Cutler's problem was one of perception, but it wasn't the perception that he's an asshole normally thus he is dogging it now.
I put the blame for this entire "cutlerf--k" on the Bears PR team, which could have de-fused the entire situation with a simple "The docs said he can't play." That's it.
What compounded the failure was that they should have TOTALLY seen this problem brewing -- it was right there for everyone to see on Twitter, literally within 10 seconds of Cutler limping.
Jay Cutler doesn't need to get off the bench and look attentive, if that's not how he normally is and his teammates know it. The guy is a bit of a laconic chucklehead.
However, count me among the camp that believes that if he could have been in there, he would have been. Just because he's not emotive about it -- just because he has possibly the worst media-management skills of any player in the NFL (and, again, not helped by his own team's PR staff) -- doesn't mean he was faking it. Or didn't want it. Or gave up.
I will not condemn the rush-to-judgment that happened on Twitter during the afternoon -- hell, it made the game's Quickish stream infinitely more compelling.
I do think, however, that you can already see some walking-back as more of the story comes out -- as the Bears defend him, as columnists defend him, as players reconsider their snap judgment.
There is no question: Fair or not, Cutler has seen his career indelibly tarnished by this. It is, for now, the new defining moment of his career.
I don't think he cares (except perhaps to the extent he is hurt by fellow members of the football-playing fraternity ripping his heart, after the way he got pounded all year long).
One thing is clear: I'm quicker to blame the Bears' inept PR department than I am to blame Cutler.
I will miss these Jets. They played one of the worst halves of football you could think of, yet came within a Big Ben 3rd-down conversion of having a very good chance of winning the game. I think, in defeat, they did even more to humanize themselves than beating the Pats -- which, by the way, was a pretty good consolation prize. I know not for Rex or the players, but it should be for the fans.
The Packers were/are better than the Bears. But give the Bears credit for making a lame blow-out into one of the most dramatic halves of football of the year, behind Caleb Hanie, who -- if nothing else -- goes down in Chicago sports mythology.
More coming later. I'm working on a couple of bonus posts, when I'm not frantically updating Quickish. If you would, please give it a visit (or few) today -- and if you wouldn't mind reminding your friends about it, I would really appreciate it. Can't believe it's only been live for two weeks.