The days, and weeks, following the Chicago Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship were filled with backlash against Jay Cutler, and the injury that prevented him from finishing the game.

It seemed as if everyone from former and current players, to analysts, fans and anyone else near a microphone had something to say about the Bears’ quarterback, and what kept him out of the game.

Everyone except for Cutler, until now.

“I was gone, and I stayed away from it all,” Cutler told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview. “But I can’t say it didn’t bother me that people questioned my toughness and desire to play.

“I think I’ve been through a lot here in Chicago, and I would have loved to play.”

But a grade II sprain of the medial collateral ligament in Cutler’s left knee kept him out of the game. Once removed from the game Cutler rooted for Caleb Hanie and the rest of his teammates, and felt the same way after the loss as the rest of his teammates did.

“To get to the point we were and the opportunity we had,” Cutler said. “I’m frustrated just like everyone else.”

As much as Cutler was bothered by the negative reaction to his injury, and to him, he never doubted his teammates’ confidence in him.

“Those are the guys you are with a lot of the time,” he said, “and those guys didn’t flinch. I’ve got to thank them for that.”

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