All throughout this day, I've seen several articles written by the boys at ESPN and NFL.com. The "Defend Jay Cutler" campaign is running in full force today, and people are on ESPN arguing ‘perception over reality.' The perception being that Jay Cutler gave up on his team, the reality being that Jay Cutler was hurt.
My response to that is this: Let me take you back to Week 3 of the 2006 season. It's a game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was a time when our team played football, not like the crap that we put on the field last year. Back then, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were coached by a man they had traded over two first round pick to acquire in John Gruden. He had a QB named Chris Simms, the potential future of their franchise, leading a potent offense with a star receiver in Joey Galloway coming off of a playoff season and they hoped that Gruden's coaching would be the leap they needed to make their way to a Super Bowl.
It was not to be.
With 30 seconds to go in the 3rd Quarter, Chris Simms was slammed into the ground by almost the entire defensive line of the Panthers. Over 900 pounds slammed into his rib cage led by Al Wallace, sending him into a world of hurt that I'm sure that most of us have never felt in our life. His body twisted and squirmed on the ground, obviously in pain, and the trainers eventually came out and had to help him off the field. Bruce Gradkowski came back in and took over for the rest of the drive, and Chris was left squirming with the doctors on the sidelines.
There is one key difference between Chris Simms and Jay Culter. Despite the pain in his chest, Chris Simms went back out there and kept fighting. In the 4th Quarter, down by two points to the Panthers with his face slowly paling, Chris Simms went out there and threw a perfect drive, driving the Buccaneers all the way down to the Panthers 10 yard line and kicking a field goal to give the Buccaneers the lead.
After the game he had the team doctors drive him to a local hospital, and tests revealed that he had a ruptured spleen. He had lost 5 pints of blood worth of internal bleeding and the doctors determined that another 45 minutes or so without surgery and Chris Simms would have died.
And keep in mind, this is a regular season game. You're not playing for, oh I don't know, the Championship of the NFC. There's more to this story than the analysts are talking about, and in my mind the gut check reaction to this game is correct. Remember, Jay Cutler isn't being criticized by the fans. Well, them too I suppose. But that's not what started this controversy. Jay Cutler is being called out by players in his own league all over the NFL who sat there and fought in the trenches when they weren't at 100% and by some that were playing with the same injury.
Players like Maurice Jones Drew, who played the entire season on a torn MCL came out and said this about him:
"All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee... I played the whole season on one..."
"Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now... When the going gets tough........QUIT.."
-Jones Drew via his Twitter Page
Now he's gone back and amended his speech a bit on his Twitter page, but that's only because the powers that be probably got onto him about it. Maurice said what he said because he meant it. He, like the rest of us, couldn't believe that Jay Cutler would be pacing the sidelines and riding on the exercise bike and still say that he's too hurt to play on the field. The only thing worse that he could do is go into the locker room and cry about it. But oops! He did that too.
Jay Cutler has a long way to go to rebuild his reputation. I have a hard time trusting in a man who won't play on a bum knee. Meanwhile Brett Favre is playing with the Jets on a torn rotator cuff, broken ribs, and a torn bicept, Mike Minter is playing safety with no knees left at all in the ending days of his career, and Chris Simms is literally dying out there on the field and his team can't find the heart to drag him away from the game he loves.
And we're talking regular season games here, not the NFC Championship. When your franchise QB sits on the sidelines with a torn MCL with your season on the line, one would wonder how much heart Jay Cutler has for this beloved game.
As ESPN says: that's only ‘perception.'
Yet I could not disagree more. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's usually a duck.