After the elation of witnessing the Bears' fifth win in a row, in relatively dominating fashion against the Chargers, our collective hearts were broken and spirits dampered with news of Cutler's thumb injury keeping him on the sidelines 6-8 weeks. If you reacted anything like me to the post-game news coverage on the injury, you went through a number of wild emotional swings that left your family and friends asking if you're okay, or even backing away from you slowly (because you can turn your back on a fan, but never a Bears' fan) to give you space in this time of grief. So, let the Jay Cutler Thumb Injury Support Group commence after the jump, and let us all move through the stages of thumavesty together.
Step One: Anger (aka the Buddy Ryan stage)
While you may expect denial to be the first stage in most grieving situations, us Bears' fans are quick to jump to conclusions, so you may have experienced an immediate, primeval urge to destroy whatever you could get your hands on upon hearing the news of Cutler's injury. The quick downturn of a Bears' team that looked better than last year due to a Knox slipup (literally) and Cutler's hustle makes even the most tempered fan's blood boil upon immediate reaction, and may result in more than a fair share of fan-on-electronic violence.
Step Two: Depression (the Cedric Benson stage)
After surviving the wild antics of crazed Bears' fans screaming profanities loud enough to make Canada blush, the mood quickly turns to a depressed, almost comatose state. The Bears' fan sits at his computer screen, head in his heads, contemplating the news of Cutler's timetable for return, and has a sad. The Bears' fans funk creates an aura of dispair and disappointment around him, similar to the one currently surrounding Chris Johnson. In step two, the fan is inconsolable, to the point that even WCG can't turn around his mood. Fans in stage two may be too out of it to post on WCG, and instead resort to watching footage from the '85 season into the wee hours of the morning.
Step Three: Rationalization (the Lovie Smith stage)
In step three the Bears' fan emerges from his funk with a newfound energy - the fan is prepared to scour the internet looking up thumb injury analysis from any corner of the web, including shady sites promising immediate results for only $29.99 plus shipping and handling - ready to tackle the injury issue head-on. The fan springs back into action, looking at all injury-related articles, reading every update from every quality - and not-so quality - writer he can find. The fan rationalizes every piece of information that has Cutler out for the year with six explanations for how a goat spleen splint and seaweed and mint tonic can get him back in time for playoffs (and possibly fly). The fan in step three analyzes the schedule ahead, every piece of film on Hanie going back to peewee football, and tarot cards to see how the Bears can maneuver themselves successfully for the remainder of the season.
Step Four: Acceptance (the Olin Kreutz stage)
After surviving wild mood swings in the three previous stages, the fan in mourning generally is left with the following: one destroyed television with decapitated Staley da Bear bobblehead, eleven missed calls and unreturned texts from loved ones, a twelve pack of beer gone (unless you're SMD, then you've lost 2 bottles of Jack), six hours of sleep over a 48-hour span, and a possible internet scam not involving a prince or unclaimed Siberian gold.
In step four, the Bears' fan has reached acceptance; examination of their physical surroundings leaves the fan prepared to move on emotionally with Hanie at the helm until Cutler returns. The fan accepts that this Bears' team is dangerous(ly good), and that we have already made one Super Bowl with a bad quarterback, so its not time to throw in the towel.
Step Five: Ditka
After having his confidence shattered with the thumb cracked around the world, the Bears' fan emerges from the carnage unscathed, perhaps even more steadfast and confident in da Bears. The fan has seen worse, suffering through Wannstache, McNown, Rexy, Salaam, and more ignominious characters and incidents over the years of his fandom, and this Bears' team, Cutler or not, may have just enough of the good stuff going to make another crack at Lombardi. The fan is resolute, his belief unwavered, and his fandom elevated.