If anyone should be given the benefit of the doubt about playing through adversity of a physical nature, it should be Jay Cutler.
Cutler is a guy who battles Type 1 diabetes and takes insulin shots every single day. He even played the entire 2007 season without knowing he suffered from it, losing 33 pounds in the process. No one gave him the benefit of the doubt then, and it turned out he was playing with a lifelong disease that many of us have little idea of what it entails. Cutler fought, played through it and came back to have a Pro Bowl season in 2008.
I think a lot of us don’t know Cutler because he doesn’t often let us in to who he is as a person. If you want to criticize him for that, then go ahead. But when you don’t have enough information about someone, you can’t fairly critique or understand them.
I’ve sat and talked to Cutler about his diabetes, and he shared with me what he went through. If anyone would take the time with Cutler, they would understand he’s a very bright young man, he’s not aloof, and he does care about his teammates, winning and playing at a high level.
He’s tremendously tough, tremendously bright and tremendously talented.
How many games has he missed in his career due to injury? One. What prerequisite do we have to gauge that he somehow tapped out against the Packers? In his five NFL seasons, we haven’t seen anything to suggest that. So when he does leave a game, how does the snap judgement swing to the extreme that he’s not tough enough?
Everything we do know about Cutler suggests that he is plenty tough.
The response to Cutler should have been the opposite. I’m not here to tell fans how to respond. But those of us who are working in the media, especially former players, we’re supposed to know better. It’s a critical error not to know the facts or to not use a historical context to fairly judge Cutler. No one wanted to take the time to do that. Instead, they wanted to jump on a set, clip a microphone on and get to talking. Of all people, we should know better.
As for the current players who took shots at Cutler, they are over-reacting just like fans, making the exact same mistake they often criticize the media of making. Maybe it’s where social networking comes into play. Who wants to take the time to wait for his test results to come back before weighing in? No one wanted to wait to see if Cutler was really hurt or to what extent he was hurt.
There are some who have been spending time talking about Cutler’s body language on the sideline. Well, what did it say? How was it translated? That’s a subjective matter that any two people can read very differently. If you can read his body language and come away with an accurate depiction of how Cutler really felt, you should have a different job. No one should be pontificating based on what they thought Cutler’s body language said, as if they were going to be accurate. I think it’s careless. You’re taking that critique to a place where it’s based on frivolous information that doesn’t hold any substance.
It’s amazing how reactionary the Cutler story became, and how quickly it happened. We’re all so quick to judge. Who can get their reaction out the quickest, and the strongest, with the most impact?
Why let the facts get in the way of a good story, soundbite or Twitter update?
Maybe it’s just me.
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