By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Finally, a Chicago Bears quarterback debate is over.
It took too long and was largely stupid and obvious, but at least we can finally stop dividing into camps on opposite sides of the issue. Yes, Jay Cutler agrees that it was time for him to move on from the Bears.
“You can talk about anybody in the league, no one likes to lose, no one likes going through those situations,” Cutler said this week, per the Miami Herald. “Those are tough. They wear you down. But that wasn’t the sole reason … I mean, they released me, so it was kind of end of the road at that point.”
This is very Cutler. Give you an inkling of what he would lay on you if you were standing with him at a cabana, pants-less with a cocktail, then coat it with something just politically correct enough to be artificially professional.
The Bears in his tenure in Chicago from 2009 to 2016 were losers, by and large. They had three head coaches — defensive-minded Lovie Smith, space alien Marc Trestman and dad-who-hates-his-daughter’s-boyfriend John Fox. They featured a clown car of offensive coordinators — from Ron Turner to Mike “Tell him I said (bleep) him” Martz to Mike Tice to Aaron Kromer to Cutler’s current Miami boo Adam Gase to Donovan… Dorian?… Loggains. They had bad drafts and odd receivers and offensive lines that often appeared to be double-agents for the opposition.
So damn right Cutler was worn down. Can you blame him?
Imagine you’re the best quarterback in a franchise’s history, and many of the people who are supposed to root for you instead hate you because you’re not a stereotype and don’t pander to their congestive brain failure. Consider having to tell your home crowd to shut up more than once while trying to call plays in the red zone. And to top it off, the out-of-town stupid of the national media uses you as its favorite football piñata to fuel the memes that should have died with the show 30 Rock.
Yeah, “no one likes going through those situations.” And most of us would have lit the building on fire on the way out. But Cutler didn’t. Maybe he was saving his ire for the broadcast booth, for which we’ve now been robbed and are worse off after he retired, only to return to the field when Miami called after Ryan Tannehill was injured. But I can’t blame him — he still wants to play, always did and would have continued dutifully in a Bears uniform if allowed.
“Just kind of channeled it in a different direction,” Cutler said about his love of football despite the brief retirement. “I still wanted to be in football, still wanted to be around it, and I was going to have that opportunity through FOX. Once this new opportunity (arose), it seemed like an absolute fit for me.”
It’s still puzzling that Cutler was no longer a fit here in what was his final contract year. The Bears still could have drafted Mitchell Trubisky and had him learn the ropes alongside Cutler and another veteran backup. We’d be able to make jokes about Cutler giving the rookie a too cool big brother cold shoulder while knowing full well that he’s more what Bears lineman Kyle Long said of him.
“Whether the public knows it or not, he actually is a funny, nice, cool guy,” Long said via the Sun-Times. “(Media members) have seen that side of him sometimes. You’ve also seen Jay when he’s having maybe not the best day. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the all-encompassing stigma there.”
And Cutler would throw interceptions along with touchdowns, and the Bears would win some games and lose some more en route to a bland year while general manager Ryan Pace attempts to fix a roster left to him from criminally poor drafting.
How it’s more sensible to have Mike Glennon here for more money and far less talent in a rebuild with a head coach who may be on the chopping block escapes me, but then again, I’m not bright and have a hard time letting go of logical stuff.
“I always missed (the game),” Cutler said. “I think I’ve always said that there were going to be days I missed it and days I was content with my decision. There was never a week that went by that I didn’t think about playing football. Did I make the right decision? Did I not make the right decision? That’s kind of life. There’s always situations that come up that you’re not sure which direction to go. You just gotta pick one and roll with it. I was just lucky enough that something like this happened for me.”
So with the Dolphins, the 34-year-old Cutler doesn’t feel so worn down. South Beach has that way with some people. He’s free of the Chicago-style baggage and is playing in the sun with house money.
Without bus-tossing his old team, he, the Bears and the rest of us can finally close the book on the Jay Cutler Experience. (And continue to hope he’s calling Bears games in the booth a year from now.)
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.