The media loves to create characters in the NFL. In any form of entertainment, really. There are heroes, villains, and those that the media just like to laugh at.
Whether it’s Tom Brady being dubbed The Holy One, Eli Manning the Joker, Cam Newton the Prodigy, the media loves to weave stories with these characters they’ve created and bring us not just a football game every week but a narrative to accompany it.
For some the narrative is complementing. For others, like Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, it’s not as flattering.
Cutler has been dubbed one of the villains of the NFL. Only his title as villain – both nationally and locally – hasn’t been earned as the media would like you to accept. It’s been a narrative that the media has created attributed to the fact that Cutler isn’t exactly the most charismatic guy on the football field. They took something as small as a facial expression and created a persona around it.
When an accused rapist in the NFL gets less hate than someone whose only fault is not smiling to your liking, there’s a problem.
The only thing that Cutler has done wrong in this instance is not be particularly outgoing and smiling. And, heck, I’m sure a lot of us are guilty of the same in our everyday lives. The only difference is we don’t have a camera pointed in our face and millions of people judging us because of it.
But Cutler isn’t without his faults. Sure, he throws interceptions; he fumbles; he makes mistakes on national television that I’m sure he would like to forget. But what NFL quarterback hasn’t?
So that begs the question: what makes Jay Cutler so susceptible to this villain card the media has dealt him?
Simply put, because he doesn’t acknowledge this false narrative. He doesn’t play into it. He focuses on his opponent for the given week; he focuses on his team’s preparation; he worries about what he can control and not people’s perceptions of him. Basically, we should all aspire to be Jay Cutler. Give no shits about what others think about us.
Watching Cutler get blown up week-in and week-out and watching the way he carries himself has granted him a whole new level of respect from me. As a Bears fan, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Cutler in the past. No one has screamed more at Cutler than I have. But I’ve also defended him for a multitude of reasons. He’s not the best quarterback in the league – by far – but he’s not the worst either.
The hatred for Cutler is nothing new. It’s been all the rage since he was traded to the Bears in 2009. And there’s no one that loves to hate Cutler more than ESPN, as evidenced by the fallout following the Bears’ embarrassing 29-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.
Following Monday’s loss to the Eagles, Cutler is of course at the center of the blame. If you think that Jay Cutler is the biggest problem on the Bears then you need help. Or glasses. Or both.
It’s a shame really when a quarterback has to get behind an offensive line that just met this past Labor Day and stand back there and take hit after hit and be on his best in terms of threading passes right where they need to be as receivers drop passes or run the wrong routes. It also doesn’t help when because of this poor pass protection that you’re playing through an injured thumb because you want to help your team win.
It’s not easy being Jay Cutler. And yet he never complains. Not once. Not even when a teammate gets in his face following an interception (really, Pernell McPhee? REALLY?)
The thing that gets lost in the media circus is not only the fact that Cutler has a ton of skill, but also that what the Bears are surrounding him with isn’t exactly recipe for success. For any quarterback. Put Tom Brady behind this offense line, and you’re likely to get a similar result. There’s always talk about whether or not this is the final year of Cutler in Chicago as if the Bears should release him. But tell me a better option in free agency?
But back to the media’s crucifixion of Cutler…
While I was watching the fallout from Monday’s loss, it suddenly dawned on me that the media has been waiting for this moment. For a while. Following a 2015 season that was Cutler’s best statistically, the media has been patiently waiting for a misstep so they could attack. And what they unleashed on Monday night and the Tuesday that followed was a full-out assault.
Whether it’s morons like Stephen A. Smith from ESPN (does anyone even listen to him anymore?) calling Cutler the worst quarterback in the league – I could name more than several that are worse – or Mike & Mike crucifying Cutler for removing himself from the game after his sprained thumb led to an interception and he wasn’t exactly helping his team, the media showed how much they love to hate Jay Cutler.
So let me get this straight, you were mad when Cutler threw an interception, and you’re mad when Cutler understood he wasn’t helping his team given his injury and removed himself? Cutler just can’t win.
Let’s take a quick look at Cutler’s stats from the game: 12-of-17 for 157 yards, one interception, one fumble, one touchdown drive, and a 71.9 QB rating. Not outstanding numbers, but not exactly terrible statistics either. So why is the media blatantly overreacting and dubbing Cutler the worst?
Because that’s how the story works. Cutler is the villain they’ve created. The villain doesn’t get compliments or praise. The only thing the villain get is hatred.
The media has never gone out of its way to acknowledge Cutler’s successes – like the 2015 season – the way they’ve gone out of the way to frequently shout his failures. Media, your true colors are showing.
There are real villains in the NFL – ones that have been convicted of crimes – that the NFL chooses to ignore at the expense of their talent. Yet for those players that haven’t reached the height of the hype – or that the media has fallen in love with – they’re delegated to being puns in the media’s arsenal.
They’ve made Jay Cutler the villain in this NFL culture. But let’s not forget who the true villains are.
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Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment | Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes | Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters | Co-executive Editor for Fangirlish | Managing Editor for Bears Wire at USA Today SMG | Producer/Co-Host of Buffone 55 for Bears Barroom Radio Network | Contact: email@example.com.