After 36 days of drama it finally happened. Just like that a Bronco becomes a Bear. To be honest it’s almost amusing how something which started as just talk of a trade inquiry bubbled and percolated into a public feud where feelings were hurt, phone calls not returned, and forgiveness gave way to vengeance.
When you boil it all down, at its heart, this is a story that many a grandma has told about the runts coming off the playground, “boys will be boys.” You can almost hear the fuming, “He doesn’t like me so I don’t like him and you know what, I am not going to play with him anymore.”
In the words of Vito Corleone, “How did things ever get so far? It was so unfortunate, so unnecessary,” and in this case, considering the stakes, so fascinating.
Last I checked, 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterbacks aren’t on the shelves at Walmart. In fact, I am still rubbing my eyes trying to get my head around this deal. The answer was to pack Jay Cutler in bubble wrap and crate him off to Chicago for three draft picks and Kyle Orton? Really? I know the draftniks will pull out their geek charts and talk value, but in reality has anyone been monitoring the success rates of first-round picks?
How about the rate at which young quarterbacks actually develop into Pro bowlers? Just ask the Jets, Lions, Bills, Texans, Raiders, 49ers and Vikings. They all can give a symposium on the topic.
Josh McDaniels studied under the hooded genius Bill Belichick, but this move seems like it should have taken place in one of those back rooms at the Bellagio. After all, don’t the Broncos remember how many years it took to actually find a suitable replacement for John Elway and lo and behold their rattling the dice again looking for another seven?
Joe Montana wearing a Chiefs helmet was perhaps the best evidence that no one in this game is irreplaceable. If the Broncos stay on message, we’ll hear about the value of these draft picks — two first-round choices and a third-round selection along with a quarterback that has won 21 of his 33 starts, which I concede is nothing to sneeze at. We’ll hear that ultimately this was about building the Denver Broncos as opposed to the Denver Cutlers. However, the sages of football mandate that winning in this league requires excellence in quarterbacking and trading away a proven commodity, a Pro Bowler at that, is an egregious violation of the “bird in hand” proverb.
As for Cutler’s stubborn stand throughout this ordeal and his subsequent searing by the critics, “Childish … too sensitive … taking his ball and going home … needs to get over it … its business.” I am not in that camp. I don’t have a problem with a guy who has given his heart, soul, sweat and blood to an organization expecting a little honesty and loyalty in return.
When did it become acceptable for a coach to “secretly” plot to replace a player under the guise of business? It certainly was McDaniels’ prerogative, but as we found out, the new coach wasn’t the only one with options. And when Cutler found out third hand the Broncos were trying to trade him, he opted not to make nice. Apparently in Santa Claus, Ind. that “let’s move on … let bygones be bygones” stuff doesn’t fly. And I am with Cutler — forgive perhaps, forget, let’s be real.
Perhaps if Cutler would have heard the truth beforehand from the horse’s mouth, if there was some evidence of integrity. After all, what prevented McDaniels from meeting with Cutler before he made his infamous phone calls and bartering to acquire Matt Cassel?
Instead, somewhere along the line words like honesty, forthrightness and transparency have taken a backseat to selfishness. What McDaniels was thinking seems obvious enough, “If ‘I’ can get ‘my’ guy in here … he knows ‘my’ system … we can move Cutler out and ‘I’ can win right away.”
The only problem is McDaniels’ so-called business inquiry had ramifications. It resulted in Cutler having little confidence or trust in McDaniels, as a coach, and in the NFL a young Pro Bowl quarterback has some business options of his own. I applaud Cutler. When loyalty is violated there is no obligation to forgive.
And so the dissolution of a once-promising marriage is complete. Reason: Irreconcilable differences. Settlement: You get the 4,526 yards, 25 touchdowns and, yes, the 18 interceptions. I’ll take the three draft picks and Orton.
Like most divorces, only time will provide the real conclusion. But if Chicago’s defense bounces back, like most analysts predict, the historical Soldier Field could turn into a nice stage for the young Cutler. As for Orton, he has the opportunity to work with one of the young innovative rising offensive minds in the game. The new Mile high might be just the change of scenery to jump start his career.
Ultimately the selection of those three draft picks, who they become and what kind of contribution they make will go a long way to determining the winner and loser in this dispute. As we know, three picks in the hands of Scott Pioli look a little different than in the hands of Matt Millen. Call it the “X-factor” which for Brian Xanders may not be a bad thing.
So what lesson can we take away from this? In an era where covert transactions domino into devaluation and lead to stimulus package bailouts, we find a shred of the old school American character. You may remember long before they were Twittering with Facebook on their iPhones, a man used to look you in the eyes and shake your hand and that meant something. It seems that Cutler is a throwback, which might not be a bad thing in old Chicago.
– Derrin Horton