Former cornerback-turned-analyst Deion Sanders questioned his heart. Linebacker Derrick Brooks suggested he should take some meds. Seahawks Defensive End Raheem Brock called him a sissy while Arizona Cardinals Defensive Lineman Darnell Dockett went as far as to say that he would have to wait for him to shower and get dressed before entering the locker room. Many NFL players were quick to pounce on Jay Cutler and his exit from the NFC championship game. It is unfortunate. Not that Cutler was forced to leave the game, but that the NFL still exudes the stereotype that most players are ignorant meatheads.
In a culture of tough guys, where injuries are ignored out of fear or shame, Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler stands as a litmus test for how advanced the intelligence of the NFL has evolved, or de-evolved if you prefer to view it that way. Should it come as any shock that most of those who were so quick to pounce on Cutler’s so-called lack of heart play on the defensive side of the ball? The incident just further proves the stigma in the NFL, and many other sports, that to be a man you have to fight through your injuries, even at your own peril and even if it might cost you your career. But what if it will cost your team the game?
Anyone who thinks that an athlete would willingly sit out of the second biggest game of the year with a minor injury is a fool. If Cutler could have played he would have. But, as facts have now revealed, it wasn’t just a minor injury. His MCL was sprained at some point during the first half of the loss to the Green Bay Packers, and he had tried to play with it injured. It wasn’t working. Instead of criticizing Cutler, players should be lauding him. Cutler’s decision to sit, whether his or not, was a selfless act. With the injury he suffered, it was obvious the best chance for the Bears to win would be to replace him.
Imagine what people would be saying if Cutler had remained in the game. In this scenario, the Bears lost by a greater margin and never even made it close. Cutler also injured his knee to a greater extent, putting next season in doubt. I am willing to bet that analysts and players alike would be criticizing Cutler for staying in and playing injured. They might call him selfish. They might call him foolish. Either way, it was lose-lose for Cutler. He left the game and we saw the result. If he had stayed in the game, the Bears would have lost by more, and he probably would have taken even more criticism. As for the defensive meatheads out there, just wait until the cleat is on the other foot.