By Dave Wischnowsky–
Jay Cutler has a football game to play this weekend.
And considering the guy’s being paid a king’s ransom to fire the pigskin around Soldier Field, I know what Chicago fans deserve from their star quarterback on the field – excellence.
Especially in the playoffs.
But, this week, a different question has emerged about Cutler as the QB’s bad attitude, bad public image and his complete indifference about both have taken a beating from local and national media.
And that question is: Exactly what does Chicago deserve from a star quarterback off the field?
It’s something the city has hardly had to consider before, considering that Chicago hasn’t had anything resembling a star signal-caller since Jim McMahon (the Punky QB) left town in 1988. But it’s something Chicagoans are considering now.
On Thursday morning, both the Tribune and Sun-Times mildly took Cutler (the Punk QB) to task for his nonchalance and non-answers during Wednesday’s weekly news conference. On Thursday afternoon, ESPN’s Rick Reilly then completely eviscerated Cutler’s personality non grata in his column, “Jay Cutler is no teddy bear.”
In the scathing piece, Reilly writes, “If he’s not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he’s in the running. His expression is usually that of a man wearing sandpaper underwear. He looks everywhere but into your eyes. It’s a tie as to which he enjoys more – smirking or shrugging. It’s hard to say what interests Cutler, but it’s definitely not you.”
Reilly was writing about a figurative “you,” but I think he just as easily could have been referring to all of Chicago and its passionate football fans.
Jay Cutler isn’t interested in you.
And on some basic level, shouldn’t he be?
Now, as long as he throws TDs and not picks, I personally don’t care if Cutler smiles on the field, nor do I care if he snarls like Ditka. I have absolutely no interest in Jay Cutler being my best pal, no desire to see his face plastered everywhere through endorsement deals and no expectation that he be an expert in PR.
I also don’t think Jay Cutler has to be all buddy-buddy with every single person who asks him a question or says hello to him in public. I respect that Cutler apparently wants to be private. But I don’t respect that the guy doesn’t even try to be decent in public.
Fact is, in Chicago, Cutler’s position as star quarterback of the city’s beloved football franchise is not a private one. Whether he likes it or not, Jay Cutler is the face of the Chicago Bears, and he’s being paid – very, very handsomely – to fill that role.
Certainly, Cutler’s on-field performance as quarterback is the most important part of his duties with the Bears. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only duty. Part of the responsibility of being paid millions of dollars to play sports is to provide more than curt answers to questions from the media – especially when they’re not antagonistic ones – and to do your professional duty by being respectful toward the fans who foot the bill for your fat salary (I hear stories otherwise from people I know who have encountered Cutler in Chicago).
As much as throwing touchdowns and producing wins are part of Jay Cutler’s job description with the Bears, being a respectful and classy face of the franchise should be, too.
It’s really not asking that much. At all.
Not when you’re being paid millions.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.