Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has tried to lay low since the NFC Championship Game, when he was criticized by players across the league for sitting out the second half with a knee injury. But Cutler opened up about the situation in an interview with Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, acknowledging that it hurt him to get ripped by so many of his fellow players.
“I was gone, and I stayed away from it all,” Cutler said. “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. . . . They can think what they want.”
But as much as Cutler was bothered by critical reactions from players on the 28 teams that were watching the conference championship games at home, he was heartened by the support he got from his own team.
“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 . . . the guys in my locker room have my back.”
Cutler said his knee is healing, and that he expects to get together and work with teammates some time soon.
“If we’re locked out by May, we’re definitely going to have to make something happen,” Cutler said. “Everyone likes to have the time off, but around now, guys get itchy.”
And Cutler, perhaps more than any player in the NFL, is itchy for this season to start so he can start to erase the taste of last season.