Cutler criticism could have been contained by better P.R. effort

As we reluctantly accept the reality that the things said on PFT Live possibly will be missed by those of you who have not yet made PFT Live part of your daily routine, we’ve decided to periodically mention in this space some of the takes that otherwise have been confined only to our new non-radio, non-TV, radio-TV show.

As to the Jay Cutler conundrum, which still has legs (and both MCLs) more than two days later, we outlined our views on the matter during Monday’s PFT Live.

For starters, Cutler’s toughness should not be questioned.  The guy played with undiagnosed Type I diabetes in 2007, losing more than 30 pounds and never missing a practice or a game because of it.  Unless the team doctor in Denver was Nick Riviera, M.D., Cutler also said or did nothing to prompt the medical staff to think that maybe a simple blood test was in order.

Here, the issue arose from the perception that Cutler wasn’t flustered by his inability to play.  And that perception was fueled by televised images of a disinterested player who didn’t seem to be upset about the situation — and who wasn’t (at least in one image) actively helping Caleb Hanie sift through the information he was feverishly processing while sitting right next to Cutler.

So here’s what should have happened.  Once it became apparent that Cutler had a knee injury that likely would keep him from playing again in the game, the P.R. person assigned to the sideline for the game should have gotten word to coach Lovie Smith that the smart move would be to leave Cutler in the locker room and to tell the press box that he would not return.  (Or, after he tried to play and couldn’t in the third quarter, Cutler should have been sent to the locker room.)

Sure, Cutler still would have been criticized for disappearing.  But that would have happened without FOX being able to broadcast from sea to shining sea images of Cutler looking not obviously injured and obviously not troubled by his predicament.

Would such a maneuver have been unprecedented?  Not really.  In October, when the Eagles hosted Mike Vick’s former team at a time when Vick was injured and relegated to No. 3 quarterback duties, the Eagles kept Vick in the locker room for the entire game.

Why?  Because FOX would have been televising reaction shots of Vick after every good or bad play by Kevin Kolb.  And everyone would have been scrutinizing Vick’s demeanor for evidence that he wasn’t properly supporting Kolb in the game against the Falcons.

The goal of P.R. isn’t to simply issue press releases regarding photo opportunities.  The P.R. staff should protect and advance the image of the team, the players, the coaches, and the front office.

On Sunday, the Bears’ P.R. staff should have urged coach Lovie Smith to leave Cutler in the locker room for the second half.

64 responses to “Cutler criticism could have been contained by better P.R. effort

  1. And during the second half someone from the Bears coaching staff should have approached the Fox sideline reporter with news that team doctors kept Cutler sidelined.

  2. Some people have to see it to believe it I guess. Just because he didn’t look injured doesn’t mean he wasn’t, and just because he didn’t look upset about it doesn’t mean he wasn’t.

  3. You must be joking. This is the championship game. The object is to win, not worry about bad press. No reason to be talking about public relations and no reason to ever force a player to stay in the locker room.

  4. cool spin… blame the bears pr instead of the uneducated morons “tweeting” like teen aged girls. i wish real life was like sports.

  5. Or they could have simply told Cutler that he looked bad because of what he was/wasn’t doing

  6. Cutler’s normal expression looks like he’s pretty much disinterested; I don’t think his demeanor on the sidelines Sunday was any different from how he’s looked all season.

    Agreed, the Bears could have held him in the locker room (or let him return to the sideline in sweats) but it’s pretty pathetic that – in the midst of a championship game – the call here is that the Bears should have simultaneously been worried about appearances.

    Bottom line is the speculation and tweets were uniformly uninformed, and frankly pretty classless. I’ve lost a lot of respect for MoJo and Prime over this; they both owe Cutler an apology.

  7. Can we move on to other stories already. You guys have made major hay out of this. It’s obvious the reaction to Cutler’s injury was unwarranted & overblown. Continuing to post stories about this just perpetuates the overreaction.

    You know the story is getting worn out when you quote, in 2 posts no less, some practice squad guy from the Lions. This is a team with one of the worst defenses in the league & your quoting a guy who can’t even crack the starting lineup on a consistent basis.

  8. Did I miss why the Cutler story is this big where something about it is being mentioned every other post? What’s re big deal and why are we still talking about it?

  9. To paraphrase Cheech and Chong–if it looks, smells, feels, and tastes like dog “crap”, it probably is dog “crap”. In this situation, Cutler is the “crap”.

  10. A Public Relations Guru employed by a team on the side lines of an NFL Game?

    You have to be kidding me? Is this where we have arrived as a NFL entity based on the image?

    Hire the right people to be on that field and side lines. Jay looked bad because he was disinterested and smiling.

    Draft well. Trade well and bring people into your organization that do not need some wall street P.R. company to keep them in line for a specific public image.

    If you have to hide your number one asset (Your starting QB) in the locker room for public relations challenges it is a sad state of affairs.

    Vince Lombardi would have slapped the crap out of any Public Relations person who showed up on his side lines.

    Papa Bear would have kicked that Public Relations college grad in the nuts.

    Paul Brown would have used him as a tackling dummy.

    Sad…. Oh so very sad.

  11. I totally agree with the fact that seeing Cutler out of the game and just being shown him on the sidelines walking and watching the games my thoughts focused on how he just gave up. Even though in this situation he should be attended to by trainers, or at least sent to the locker room. Considering neither of these were shown I can only assume it wasn’t something serious. I do not buy that he was hurt still because a football player, especially a quarterback should be on the sidelines, on the medical table being actively looked at, or taken to the locker room for further diagnosis and neither was shown. I bet it would of been shown if more than 1 minute was spent doing just that. Remember Favre in last years NFC Championship game. It was obvious his ankle was hurt and he spent some time being looked at. After Cutler was out of the game they showed him on the sidelines walking around with no emotion to show the fact he was injured seriously. It is what it is and we’re all not stupid. I’d go nuts if he was the QB of my team no matter what has came out about the situation or what will come out about it. It was the NFC Championship game, they, and he should of insisted that he go in the game or work non-stop until it was inevitable he couldn’t go back in and than sit in the locker room. In the future when a quitter quits they’ll spend more time thinking of how to fake it like a European soccer player.

  12. Forget better P.R. – what Cutler really needed better Rx. All the Bears Med staff had to do was wrap his knee at halftime or at least ice it when the 2nd and 3rd QB’s went in. Then, we ALL would have said “Look, Cutler is really HURT!” Instead, they left him untreated and left us all wondering.

    Question – WHY would any NFL team leave a franchise QB with a knee injury totally untreated on the sideline?

  13. Mike,

    I agree. I quoted you several times in my article “CutlerGate: How the Bears dropped the PR Ball.”

    See what you think here:


    P.S. I found your interview with Laurence Holmes very useful for my article as well.

  14. Mike,

    One of the greatest things about your site has always been that you collect data from everywhere and share it in PRINT. And comment on it

    Whether it be articles, game takes, something you saw on ESPN, NFL Network, etc.

    Please don’t change this site to make us have to watch you PFT live segments to get the news…cover your own PFT live segments just as you would the Dan Patrick show if he said something interesting.

    Most of us simply can’t or don’t want to have to listen/watch your “radio” show.

    We came to this site for reading…don’t try to change what has always worked for you. Print media.

    – Tommy

  15. Not that complicated of a situation. Lets crunch the numbers shall we.

    1. Cutler gets hurt
    2. People say Cutler is not hurt and should keep playing
    3. Cutler kind of cries, something that real men like Michael David Smith would never do
    3. People find out Cutler has a torn MCL
    4. People react:
    A) I now understand Cutler’s injury and should have waited for the facts before I made certain observations
    B) He is still a wuss. I play Madden 2011 with a sprained ankle on the daily.
    C) (aka the PFT method) Lets try to milk this crap for as much traffic as possible
    5. Cutler angers people by making them look like douche bags for accusing him of something that he never did and acting like an adult throughout. Cutler is therefore a douche. He should have said he was faking his injury because he is too wimpy to play football and made everyone happy.

    The end. Kiss my rear haters.

  16. No. Cutler should have come out, tried a play or series, returned to the locker room and word been sent he was not returning. Then came back in street clothes.

    The casual fan that never seeks out additional information will only remember what they saw (and heard or read).

  17. Cutler fears his failures rather than embracing them and growing from them. This is a turning point for him b/c the loss to the Packers lies squarely on his shoulders. He needs to face his failure, He needs to admit he quit. If he displaces the blame … the team will let him go.

  18. I mean i understand completly that he sprained his mcl but hes a professional athlete playing in possibly the biggest game of his career, i mean i know if your hurt your hurt but its a big game and i feel like he should have toughed it out, but heres an example Brett Favre played the championship game last year with a really messed up ankle that need surgery, and played half of this year with a sprained shoulder, fractured ankle, and busted jaw. and hes 41 years old just saying…

  19. Here’s the latest salvo in the “Jay Cutler is a wimp!” argument, saw this tonight on yahoo:

    Cutler and girlfriend Kristin Cavallari dined at Mastro’s Steakhouse on Sunday after the Bears’ 21-14 loss to the Packers in the NFC championship game.

    Cutler, who left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury, was not on crutches but “he limped a tiny bit,” according to a source. The couple was joined by 11 other people in Mastro’s private upstairs dining room, and our spies tell us that he took the stairs rather than the elevator.

    Read it here, folks:

  20. Cutler needs to get out of Chicago. The players are fine but the owners are notorious cheapskates. To top it off the Chicago fans are awful. They talk him up all year and then crucify him at the first sign of adversity. Jets fans, Eagles fans, and Chicago fans are all garbage.

  21. That is one way of looking at it. Others have correctly pointed out that the media deserves blame (ahem) for presuming Cutler was malingering before gathering any facts. Given that it’s the primary responsibility of the media to sift facts from fiction…and that it’s NOT the primary responsibility of the Bears to manipulate public opinion…maybe the focus here should be on the media’s failure.

  22. . The players obviously have a dislike for Cutler and were not going to give him the benefit of the doubt on anything. I think it shows a lack of respect from his fellow NFLers, which can’t be a good sign for a player. Despite his god given abilities and him taking his team to the NFC Championship this year there is definitely something missing in Cutler. I personally think the players had the right to talk because, well, it’s a free country right. However, it can’t be any good for Cutler and Chicago has to figure out where they wanna go with their QB situation because I know a lot of NFL fans are calling for the Bears to go in a different direction.

  23. Huh? Social-relational bullying took place on the part of those who “piled on” because of: 1. Jealousy/envy (Dilfer); 2. Still bitter Broncos Homers (Schlereth/Jackson); 3. People who probably bet on the Bears and lost money; 4. Hypocrites (Sanders).

    “Perception is reality” for the feeble minded and for those who are biased and seek to validate their prejudices. Let us not justify their “relational bullying” by blaming the PR department.

    Sure, it should have been handled more professionally, but the envy/hate “Cutler” crowd was waiting to pounce.

    One good thing came of this: Jay, you now know your enemies. MAKE the WEASELS pay next year!

  24. Or, maybe they could have suggested that Cutler should be actively helping Haine? The hiding in the locker room ploy would have been better than what we all saw, but the best solution would have been a guy that was still trying to do anything he could do from the sideline to help his team win – even if it was as small of a gesture as patting Haine on the back.

  25. I don’t think the PR folks or the Chicago Bears did anything wrong. The people who did do something wrong is the media and the idiotic players sitting on their couches tweeting. They had no business jumping to conclusions before the game was even over. That’s a gutless move!

  26. Maybe. He also could have caught hell for not “at least being on the sideline for his fellow players”. This is about Jay Cutler and the overall perception of him in the NFL and has more to do with his general demeanor as a quarterback than this specific game. It’s a culmination of things. If a similar situation happens to Aaron Rodgers we aren’t having this conversation.

  27. What about the report, on yahoo Sports, that later that night, Quitler was seen eating dinner and climbing stairs to private room? Jay Quitler. perhaps he wouldn’t be facing these slings if he would just admit he sucked sunday and was removed because he stank? Why this injury charade? BS!!! Quitler the Chicago Quitter.

  28. I asked that same question to a p.r director from another team and was told the Bears screwed the pooch on that one. There seems to be a really poor line of communication from the coaching staff to the SID.

  29. I thought Cutler would probably be the first player to be killed on a NFL football field when I watched him get pummeled every week earlier this season. He never complained,

  30. Cutler criticism could have been handled better by the entire sports “media”, including PFT, as well.

    The torrent of criticism from players, current as well as former, who were sitting on their couches comfortably watching the game from afar is shameful.

    The Golics, Schlereths and Dilfers of the sports world are far likelier to get run over by a bus than to ever again face a 300 pound lineman coming at them at full speed with their helmet aimed at their faces.

    I think it is unmanly for men, men in the sense that they are beyond a certain age and have obtained enough life experience to be able to purposefully avoid poor decision-making, to judge another’s courage or conviction in a situation in which they have no stake

    It is one thing for Erlacher to judge his quarterback while playing in the same game, it is quite another for a Golic to do the same. One’s judgement is sensible the other’s is shameful. You choose which is which.

  31. Yea, the more time goes on, the more you realize the Bears really screwed the pooch on this one. It’s no wonder they lost.

  32. The problem is that ESPN pays too many analysts and there isn’t enough things to talk about. ESPN has become whats wrong with sports. That and twitter

  33. amen. plus the fact that the players were all semi dismissed and pissed. rumors started internally with no shut off valve.

    Also L Smith’s handling sounded like he wanted to stifle or cut off discussion with a now misunderstood tone to his voice.

  34. Cutler wouldn’t have looked as bad on the sideline if he had an ice pack on his knee which is, you know, what trainers do with sprained joints.

  35. Really? Your suggestion is that they should have hidden him away from the team? It’s the NFC Championship game and you make him ‘stand in the corner’? That’s idiotic.

  36. The shot of him riding a stationary bike just before they declared him out of the game didn’t help either.

  37. They could have at least gave him crutches to stand with. It was also bad that FOX said his return was questionable, which gave all the Bears fans hope.

  38. What about the report, on yahoo Sports, that later that night, Quitler was seen eating dinner and climbing stairs to private room? Jay Quitler. perhaps he wouldn’t be facing these slings if he would just admit he sucked sunday and was removed because he stank? Why this injury charade? BS!!! Quitler the Chicago Quitter.


    Dude, your team lost. Get over it, and stop the name-calling. My team blew a two touchdown lead in the playoffs against a team that will probably win the SuperBowl. Win as a team, lose as a team. Quitler? Grow up.

  39. Right, except the Bears may have been a bit more focused on winning the championship game rather than appeasing the irrational opinions/ideas from X people. Heaven forbid, Jay Cutler had smiled or chuckled ala Derek Anderson. I cant imagine that media storm.

    It is amazing how many “former players” acknowledge the perception based assessment of Cutler’s injury and the limitations of said perceptions, yet still manage to confidently express their opinions. It seems strange to make a statement when it is clear that not all is known.

    The nonsensical nature of this entire Cutler discussion is really just a sad affair by the sports media and ultimately showcases their journalistic inadequacies.

  40. They could have at least gave him crutches to stand with. It was also bad that FOX said his return was questionable, which gave all the Bears fans hope.


    Except often times this information is purposefully left unclear for strategic purposes. One only has to think of the injury report and the measures teams go through to obscure injuries.

  41. he had such a bad knee sprain, that night he went out for steak dinner and walked up a flight of stairs! he has a brain sprain! as long as lovie is coach cutler will be a baby!!

  42. Cutler keeps this up, he’s going to be called out in public and an incident will occur, believe me. Honeymoon will be ending very soon in Chi-Town.

  43. @jharmon64 totally agree. The problem with the media is they think they actually matter. That’s why Rex Ryan has you all wrapped around his little finger because he knows it DOESN”T matter what he says, or what you say. It seems Cutler’s team has his back, that’s all that is important.

  44. This situation is eerily similar to that of Jim Everett in 1989 – and that involved an incident in the NFC title game too.

    And if the Vikings can solve their QB problem and the Lions continue to improve, the Bears may commence a “Terrible in the Teens” run starting next season, just like the Rams were “Nothing in the Nineties” after Everett’s implosion (until of course the very last year of that decade).

  45. Hey, this is Bears management we’re talking about. They’re the gang that can’t shoot straight and this is yet another example of their mumblings and stumblings! PR…no way. What do you expect from this group…professionalism…it ain’t gonna happen!

  46. Cutler needs to get out of Chicago. The players are fine but the owners are notorious cheapskates. To top it off the Chicago fans are awful. They talk him up all year and then crucify him at the first sign of adversity. Jets fans, Eagles fans, and Chicago fans are all garbage.
    Good fans, bad fans, garbage fans…their money all ends up in the same McCaskey bank accounts. People pay their money, they can root as they please…gimme a break.

  47. uh, you can walk on a torn mcl, and you can ride a bike on a torn mcl

    now side to side? not too much.

  48. Please make PFT Live available as a podcast through iTunes.
    I will listen every day (and support your advertising partners) if you make it convenient for me to listen on my iPhone.

  49. From what i’ve read so far:
    Cutler should have been on crutches….
    Cutler’s knee should have been on ice…
    Cutler should have been in the locker room…
    Cutler should have been helping Hanie on the sideline…
    Cutler should have been banging his head in disappointment on the sideline…
    Cutler should have done this or done that…
    Criticise him for not showing enough emotion is fair, but lack of toughness, I think, is unfair.
    I dont care who you are, if you are lucky enough to play in the NFL, you are tough.
    I’m positive all these would help Cutler become a better team-mate and qb.

  50. At this point, there’s not much the team can do anymore about this. Even if it turns out his injury is much worse than initially stated, it would all seem like PR.

    Cutler just needs to work hard in the offseason, let it leak out somehow, and then come back and win. No one will care about this if he has a great season, the media will play up the ‘Jay Cutler has grown up’ angle and all will be well.

  51. Wow, the Bears lost at home, in the NFC Title game to the Green Bay Packers….that is a hurt piece of Biblical proportions….OUCH !

  52. That poster above that mentioned sending Cutler back out in street clothes…great call. I agree. Whenever players come back out in street clothes no one questions a thing. It’s clear they weren’t cleared to return and the HC doesn’t have to say much about it afterward let alone the player.
    I think when Brady tore his ACL/MCL he never came back out either. In fact I know the Pats didn’t even want him on the sidelines in any game after that because they didn’t want the cameras to fly to him whenever Cassel did something (good or bad). It’s pretty smart actually when a young guy with no experience is replacing a high echelon starter at QB.

  53. I’m late to this blog and my comments will probably be lost but here goes…
    Cutler was hurt and removed from the game, period. Those of you that have a problem with that get over it because you are probably due for more disappointment like this in your own teams as medical restraints on injured players returning to games become more stringent.

    Jay Cutler has taken the Bears to the playoffs and done a fine job. The only complaint I have is I wish he would learn how to set his feet before throwing a pass which might address some of his accuracy issues. What I find amazing in the aftermath of the Green Bay game is the 600 pound gorilla in the livingroom no one is addressing. And his name is Caleb Hanie. As a Bears fan I’m wondering why others aren’t questioning why their first string QB can play 2+ quarters of football and only manage 80 passing yards with no TD’s while the third string QB can step in, facing the same defense, and pass for 144 yards in about 17 minutes of play engineering two touchdown drives. Despite the unfortunate interception for a TD by Green Bay, Caleb still almost pulled a tie in regulation. Why is this guy third string behind Collins? Why is the Bears organization ignoring him? He deserves better and I’m afraid he’ll find it as a restricted free agent.

  54. Cutler has shown his toughness all season. He has Diabetes, so playing through that in itself is not easy. Also, as a Lions fan, I have seen 1st hand how a Mike Martz offense can get a QB beat up. 54 sacks is standard without a Top tier Oline (especially at LT), just ask John Kitna. He took 50+ sacks every season that Martz was in Detroit.

    That being said, does taking that kind of pounding take a toll on a player mentally over the course of a season? Kitna would just freeze up late in the season, or just rush a throw leading to a pick or make mistakes because he was constantly under duress. Cutler showed the same propensity to make mistakes all season while under duress. He also made a lot of big plays, but mainly because he had a quality running game to help him out, and has more talent and a bigger arm than Kitna ever had or will have. Bears fans better get used to the fact that a Mike Martz offense is high risk/high reward!!

    Cutler showed flashes of toughness and Talent all season, but when it counted most, he QUIT!!

    Matt Stafford showed his toughness and endeared himself to his team and his fans by ignoring the trainers who told him to stay out of the game (which is their job) and came back in to win a meaningless game against the Browns.

    Brett Farve played in an NFC championship game after taking a pounding that would put most of us in the hospital. I played games in high school with broken fingers, sprained ankles, hyper extended elbow, broken knose, and I’m not the toughest guy around. If I could walk or stand, I wanted to be in the game, as did my team mates and we played on losing teams.

    Cutler should have stayed in the game as long as he could walk or stand. HE QUIT, PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!!

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