Teammates Come To Cutler’s Defense

Jay Cutler took a physical beating all season long, and that continued into Sunday’s NFC Championship game. But it was the beating that he took off the field that sparked his teammates to come his defense.

On Monday, the Bears blasted current and former players who in Twitter posts questioned his toughness for sitting out most of the second half of Sunday’s 21-14 NFC championship game loss to Green Bay with a knee injury.

“I think it’s crap,” general manager Jerry Angelo said. “I thought they were a union. If that’s the way they unionize themselves, they got bigger issues than the one that they have with the owners. I’m very disappointed. That, to me, is dirty poor.”

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, along with former players like Deion Sanders and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, were among those criticizing Cutler on Sunday.

To that, coach Lovie Smith said, “Our quarterback’s a tough guy. … It’s pretty simple what happened yesterday. Before the half, Jay hurt his knee. He showed a lot of toughness to continue to play with it.”

Smith said Cutler suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee late in the first half and would have been questionable for the Feb. 6 Super Bowl had the Bears beaten Green Bay. He also emphasized the team and medical staff made the call to lift the quarterback, who played the first series in the third quarter before standing on the sideline.

Cutler underwent an MRI on Monday and was at Halas Hall. He did not make himself available to the media and declined comment on the criticism after the game.

His coach and teammates had plenty to say, though. They were particularly peeved about a series of Twitter posts by current and former players ripping Cutler.

“I’ll just tell you this, the one thing I know about Jay Cutler is he’s tough,” said third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie, who led a late comeback bid. “Another thing I know about him is he’s going to stand up for his teammates. He didn’t want to let his teammates down. So if he could have been on the field and been productive for the team, he would have done it.”

Receiver Earl Bennett, Cutler’s teammate at Vanderbilt, called the criticism “very unprofessional.”

Defensive tackle Anthony Adams labeled it “garbage” and “unfair.”

And tight end Greg Olsen said, “I think it’s insane. I think anyone who’s ever watched us, that would probably be the last thing anyone’s ever questioned.”

Yet current and former players alike were doing just that.

Jones-Drew, who played the first 14 games with a partially torn meniscus in his right knee before shutting it down, wrote: “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.”

Dockett posted, “If I’m on chicago team jay cutler has to wait till me and the team shower get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room!”

Schlereth wrote, “As a guy how had 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game!”

And Sanders had this to say, “Im telling u in the playoffs u must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro lockerooms this dude comes out! I apologize bear fans! … Folks i never question a players injury but i do question a players heart.”

The way the Bears see it, Cutler doesn’t owe anyone an apology. They think he’s owed a few, in fact.

“I can’t even believe I’m sitting here talking about Cutler’s toughness,” Angelo said.

Cutler is often criticized for his demeanor along with his decisions during games. But his toughness? That’s a new one.

No one took a bigger pounding this season.

The league-leading 52 sacks barely reflected the number of hits he absorbed. He was constantly under pressure, particularly in the early going, and even when he runs, he’ll often take the tackle rather than slide. He did it again at least once against the Packers.

“We’re in a perception business,” Angelo said. “I certainly didn’t like what was said. I take that personally, too. He’s our quarterback. We wouldn’t have been where we’re at without him, and I want that to be made clear. We stand by him.”

Green Bay defensive lineman B.J. Raji said he also thought the criticism was “pretty wrong and a lot times it has a lot to do with jealously.”

“We hit the guy pretty hard, we broke out some different angles, all different places on the field,” Raji said. “I mean, he is a warrior. Any time a player has the longevity that he has had in this league you are a tough guy.”

AP Video Journalist Robert Ray contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  • franklin808

    Thanks Jay, I wasted all that money on season tickets.

  • Dundeeslim

    Cutler is weak,ex-player do have a right to make commets.The Bear’s were lucky all year ,Lovie is a weak coach stop all the crying Bears lost to the BEST TEAM

  • joe

    Check where Cutler was the night before the game. I think a hangover took him out of the game.

  • Dennis Rutherford

    Schlereth is a former Bronco who has taken pot shots every chance he can get at Cutler on ESPN ever since the trade. Deion Sanders ….. ya there’s a real tough guy for ya . Let’s see he avoided tackling guys whenever possible . Ran out of bounds rather than get hit when one was inevitable on a return and was quoted as saying they don’t pay me enough to tackle too ! Darnell Dockett good bet he just lost a buck or 2 on a bet. Jay’s been a warrior all season getting his head beat in and NOW people question him ? I think i know who the real losers are ! Hell i’d stand side by side with Jay on a football field any day and go to war !

  • Michael Che

    Jay is here to stay and fight, like he always does. Some of the so-called ‘Bear fans’ should be stripped of their (?) colors. And B.J.Raji gets my utmost respect.

  • Jay Cutler And His Girlfriend Kristin Cavallari Walking Around L.A. | Ted Williams Head

    […] maligned QB was attacked on Twitter by fellow NFL players, as well as media talking heads. Besides his teammates, there were very few that came to the aid of Cutler. The outspoken Charles Barkley was one of the […]

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