By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) Brandon Marshall said it perfectly Thursday.
“I’m tired of talking about Jay, honestly,” he said at Halas Hall.
Me too. The Jay Cutler story was over weeks ago.
But there was the Bears quarterback Thursday, standing at the podium, being peppered by questions about what his critics are saying about him.
Look, this was a legitimate issue after the Week 2 loss to the Packers. But not because people like me slammed him after the game. It was an issue because it caused a stir in the Bears locker room and D.J. Moore openly voiced his displeasure with Cutler for embarrassing J’Marcus Webb on national television.
I cared less about the Webb shoulder bump and more about the lack of accountability Cutler had after he played horribly. But, 10 days later, the Bears beat the Rams despite No. 6 having an up-and-down game and Cutler was more accountable afterward.
Good. Lesson learned. Move on.
The issue flared up again in Dallas when cameras caught Cutler walking away from offensive coordinator Mike Tice on the sideline. But every party involved downplayed the encounter and said it wasn’t a big deal. Fine. Again, move on.
But clearly some people can’t. And to be fair, it’s mostly the national media.
Terry Bradshaw went off on Cutler Oct. 7 on FOX: “I know you don’t care and nor do I care if I ever sit down and do an interview with you, which I have yet to do, maybe there’s a reason for that. I like everybody. I’d like to like you but right now I don’t like you. Grow up young man.”
But just because former quarterbacks are on national television blasting Cutler, doesn’t mean he has to respond to every comment made about him.
“Phil Simms said you’re mean,” one reporter told Cutler Thursday.
Yeah, he did, but he meant it as a compliment.
“He said more than that,” Cutler told the reporter. “You take things out of context. That’s the problem.”
What Simms really said, was this: “I mean this as a compliment. (Cutler is) mean. He’s an angry guy. And I think angry is a big part of being a quarterback in the NFL.”
And that was just a snippet from a longer quote in which Simms was saying he would rather have Cutler over Matthew Stafford.
But another reporter pressed Cutler for a response. He begrudgedly obliged. And then someone else asked him about Bradshaw’s comments. Cutler again, surprisingly, put up with it. And then yet another reporter asked him about Bradshaw again.
That’s when it ended.
“I’m not going to get into this. It’s not going to happen,” Cutler said. “Any other questions about Detroit?”
There weren’t. And the press conference was over.
To be fair, the Bears were on a bye week and Cutler hadn’t spoken to the media since the Jaguars game — the same day Bradshaw made his comments about the quarterback.
But it’s old news. In Chicago, we should know who this guy is already. He’s not the greatest person in the world, but that’s not what he’s paid to be. He’s paid to win football games for the Bears and his attitude is only a story when it prevents that from happening. After the Packers game, it was a story because at least one teammate — probably more — weren’t happy with him.
“Jay is an easy target because he plays with his emotions on his sleeve,” Brandon Marshall said. “I think he’s misunderstood, but again, like I always say, I love it. The bigger the light, the bigger the impact you can make.”
And at 4-1, that’s the real story with Jay Cutler and the Bears. Even if he’s being criticized nationally, the attention is on him and he now has the opportunity to perform well on the biggest stage he has seen. The good news is, he realizes that.
“Everyone is going to have opinions,” Cutler said. “I can’t internally process each and every one of them. I have to worry about trying to win games on Sunday and the guys in the locker room.”
And for now, the guys in the locker room still respect him. Maybe not all of them, but enough to win games now.
“I just can’t wait to see, when it’s all said and done, the legacy he leaves behind. How the stories are going to be written differently,” Marshall said. “I’m just going to sit back and that’s when I’m going to pick up the papers, that’s when I’m going to watch the news, sports stations, and see how they are talking about Jay Cutler and the Bears.”
That will ultimately be decided by Cutler’s play on the field and leadership in the locker room. Let’s let that be the story. Not what others are saying about him.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.