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Posted January 24, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

You should be mad at Jay Cutler...but not for sitting out Sunday

By now, it seems everyone from media members, former NFL players, current NFL players and plenty of casual fans have gotten the chance to weigh in on the whole Jay Cutler situation. In case you're just not crawling out from underneath a rock, here's what happened...

During Sunday's NFC Championship game, Cutler left the game with an apparent knee injury, forcing the quarterback inside the locker room. He returned to action, but only for a few series, before heading back to the sideline in the third quarter.

For the rest of the game, Cutler watched from the sideline, bundled in a jacket and beanie, while third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie attempted to lead a Bears comeback over the Packers. Immediately, the tweets began to roll in, particularly from a slew of NFL players, all of whom chastised Cutler's ability to still be standing on the sideline, but not well enough to go in and play.

As expected, following the loss, Cutler and his teammates caught wind, retaliated and here we are with a media frenzy. Earlier today, too, it was reported Cutler has suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee.

So, in light of what's happened, let me say I'm not angry at the fact he didn't return to the field. I'm more upset at what transpired afterward. Let me explain.

On the most immediate hand, I have not, nor do I expect to, ever play a down of professional football in my life and have been fortunate to have never suffered a serious knee injury. I feel like anyone rushing to judgment and berating Cutler for not going back out on the field is either a passionate Bears fan (understandable) or simply thinks that a knee injury, especially in a conference championship game, is not enough to warrant sitting out.

I totally get that train of thought. But here's what makes me roll my eyes at Cutler today...

Long after Cutler decided he wasn't going to return, the Bears put their hopes on Hanie, a third-string quarterback who set numerous records at Colorado State. He has some mobility and judging from the rest of Sunday's game, he has potential as an NFL quarterback. But there was a scene during the game that everyone should take issue with.

On the team bench, while Hanie sat with a team playbook in his hands, trying desperately to cram all sorts of plays and schemes and calls into his brain before the next series, Cutler sat just to his right and stared. He just sat there. No tips for Hanie, no words of encouragement or advice on what to look for against the Packers' 'D.' Instead, it was Cutler sitting there, a foot away from Hanie, just looking around. I understand you're hurt, Cutler, both on the outside and the inside. I know you wanted more than anything to get back on the field and lead the offense.

But with the injury supposedly so severe that you couldn't play, he should've been the leader he's supposed to be and guided Hanie, at least a little. I've read stories about how that type of guidance is not what Cutler's about, that he's not the guy who will comfort and express emotion. And maybe that snippet on television doesn't tell the whole story, but I'm betting it does. I'm betting Cutler spent the rest of the game on the sidelines and talked to no one, just watched as his team's season slipped away.

I don't condone the tweets and hatred for Cutler not returning to the field. But if he's not going to line up under center, at least help out the guy who is.

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