Several NFL players took to Twitter on Sunday to rip Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, questioning his toughness for leaving the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury.
A story written after the game by Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated will do nothing to change that perception of Cutler.
Although Trotter’s portrayal of Cutler is sympathetic — the headline is “Don’t question Cutler’s toughness” — Trotter offers a detail that is sure to add fuel to the fire for those who believe Cutler just isn’t tough enough to be a great NFL player.
“It cut him so deeply that tears welled in his eyes at his locker room stall,” Trotter writes of Cutler’s response to being told other players had criticized him.
Trotter continues: “Cutler appeared genuinely hurt when asked about the comments, saying: ‘No comment on that.’ He then turned his back to reporters, fiddled with some things on a shelf and bit his lip as tears welled.”
Whether you’re a kid getting picked on in school or an NFL player, if people think you’re a wimp, there’s no better way to confirm that perception than to cry about it. Those players who ripped Cutler on Sunday aren’t going to change their minds today when they hear that he had tears in his eyes.
That’s not to say they’re right. For the record, Cutler has missed exactly one game since he first became a starter as a rookie in Denver, and that one game came when doctors wouldn’t clear him after suffering a concussion this season. One missed game in a career that has seen Cutler get sacked 138 times does not make him a wimp.
But Cutler has a long way to go to rebuild his reputation. And crying in his locker isn’t the way to do that.