Who am I to say that Rick Telander is a bad writer? The guy has written a few books, worked for Sports Illustrated and is generally considered a good sports writer. In college I had to read his book Heaven is a Playground for a sports history class I took and I will say I didn't much care for it. Anyway, that's kind of besides the point. What I am trying to say is Rick Telander might be a great sportswriter but his January 24 article about Jay Cutler not having "it" is dead wrong.
Now I've defended Cutler from the likes of many national and local sportswriters on this blog before and I considered not bothering with this one because I thought "the people won't want to read this again, Bears fans know this is all a crock and Jay Cutler doesn't need to be defended by some fan who writes for a blog and is completely biased" but then I thought "No, that will just reinforce the stereotype that Bears fans are just like Cutler and don't give a care about the outside world"
So here I am. Defending Cutty. Again.
Plus, this article is a lot easier to dismiss because Telander makes it so easy. This post could literally be about 100 words (but it's not because I get angry and rant a lot, sorry about that).
Telander's article can be completely and logically be bust by two lines:
1) Telander uses an anonymous source who says Cutler doesn't smile or acknowledge him to say that therefore Cutler is somehow incapable of leading this team to Super Bowl.
It seems Cutler’s blank-faced nothingness must affect those around him. It certainly has affected certain professional people who have had contact with him and have wanted nothing more than a simple smile or ‘‘hello.’’
‘‘He’s a sh--,’’ says one member of the Bears’ extended staff, a man who wishes to remain anonymous. ‘‘You see him, and he doesn’t even acknowledge your presence.’’
If you don’t like unattributed quotes — and I’m not a fan of them myself in most situations — simply dismiss that last statement. But Cutler’s disconnect is a trait that has to be dissected because it might be the one thing that will prevent the Bears from achieving the heights of success.
What? That's a pretty big leap. Wasn't the late Apple-founder Steve Jobs known for being abrasive, a jerk, in other words "a sh--" to people on a regular basis, including shrouding the company and it's employees in a life of secrecy but he built one of the most successful companies and brought technology forward leaps and bounds? I realize it's not the same thing, but the point stands; people who have bad personalities can still lead and can still accomplish a lot. Sometimes the "genius" of a person can make their personality a little jagged but that doesn't mean they can't do great things.
2) The other thing that cracks Telander's point like it's Tony Romo with the game on the line is this:
And didn’t Brady have a child out of wedlock with an actress named Bridget Moynahan before marrying a Brazilian supermodel?
Yes, he did [...] But Brady is a freak. And he has matured.
He likened Cutler to Brady but said Brady can pull it off because he's Tom Brady. That's not a defense. That's not a rational argument. What do you mean "he's a freak"? What does that mean? He can't dismiss hypocrisy with something like that.
Plus how is he defining maturity? I take that to mean "Well Brady had three Super Bowl rings at that point so he can do whatever he wants." So maybe then Telander doesn't have a problem with Big Ben Roethlisberger's bathroom escapades because he's got rings and therefore, somehow maturity?
But maybe that isn't enough of a point. Let's look at a point brought up numerous times on the blog yesterday when the article was posted in the Den.
The only "it" Cutler is missing is wide receivers and an offensive line. Let's also throw a consistent play-caller to that too.
Cutler came into training camp in 2011, post-lockout and the media suddenly shifted their stance on Cutler. After being taken out of the NFC Championship game by the now-infamous knee sprain and everything that came with it, Cutler had a quiet enough offseason, stayed low-key, led workouts (which impressed many) and showed up to camp in better shape than he had ever been in and was ready to go to work.
He left his personal life at the door and was going to submerge himself in football. Of course that didn't stop David Haugh from getting in a wise-crack about Cutler's personal life and called-off engagement but let's give these guys a break, covering Chicago sports isn't enough, they want to be able to get some juicy gossip in too.
Anyway, so Cutler comes in and shows he's ready to play, the 2010 season ending is behind him and he's going to go out and play. So what does he do? Nothing but lead the team to an impressive 7-3 start before going down with a thumb injury.
The team, now led by the immortal Caleb Hanie, a sure-fire future-Canadian Football League star and former-high school coach Josh McCown led the Bears to such an outstanding 1-5 record. Yeah, Rick T, Cutler doesn't have it, you're right.
The replacements got sacked, a lot, the receivers? They didn't catch much and without Matt Forte the Bears struggled. Perhaps if Forte had stayed healthy Cutler could have garnered more attention for the Bears' 7-3 mark but that could be wishful thinking.
Cutler got more out of this team than any one could have thought. Why he still has
award-winning writers blowhards like Telander dumping on him is beyond me.
Furthermore, at this point can we really blame Cutler for being kind of rude to the media? If I had, in my career, been made out to be the second-coming of John Elway (a lot of pressure there), made into the pariah of an entire city by a first-time head coach, been blasted for not caring, constantly questioned as a leader and player and living too much of a high-profile life, I'd probably be reluctant to talk to the media too.
Plus having random employees (for all we know it's some equipment intern calling Cutler "a sh--" ) giving anonymous quotes to the media about what a terrible person I was, isn't going to make me more likely to acknowledge that person's existence.
Cutler has "it" and he'll show it more consistently when he has a little more help. He was much more consistent this season without that help.
So that's that. But before I let you go, I have one more rant I want to get off my chest. I know this is something a lot of readers have expressed before and I am with all of you.
Why is it that a lot of these sportswriters complain about Cutler being followed by the paparazzi and appearing on TMZ and in People Magazine, etc. and mock it and talk about it being such a distraction and generally carry this air of "it's stupid, unnecessary and annoying" and then they continue to bring it up, mention it and write about it? As far as I know, we the fans don't care, if we did, we would watch TMZ and read People and that stuff, we generally want to know what's going on in the locker room and on the field and could care less about our quarterback's personal life. So why do they keep mentioning it and bringing it up? No one cares! Cutler can date whoever he wants and yeah he chooses someone who is famous for being on a TV show that went off the air like six years ago. They act like he shouldn't fall in love with another famous person, you can't really help who you fall in love with. Yes, I shouldn't preach about love-life either but I just don't get why the sports writing community has this disdain for that paparazzi stuff but turns around and quotes it, uses it and has a fascination with it at the same time. Just leave it the hell alone!
End of rant.