In the NFC Championship game, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left the game in the second half with an apparent knee injury. We don't know the severity of it yet, as an MRI will happen today or tomorrow, but because of Cutler's body language it lead to a plethora of people and NFL players to question his toughness. Knee injuries are a touchy thing and most players aren't going to risk their careers, even in a conference title game. Cutler clearly couldn't throw properly in the second half when he tried to come back in the game. Because of how Cutler was walking around and standing on the sidelines however, it led some to question him.
Two of the NFL players to question Cutler were Jaguars runningback Maurice Jones-Drew and linebacker Kirk Morrison.
"Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now... When the going gets tough........QUIT.."
All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee... I played the whole season on one..."
"Jay Cutler better go put some Tussin on that knee and get back out there. Tussin cures all. #Robitussin"
"If my knee was hurt or acl/mcl/pcl sprain, I would not be standing up on the sideline. #jaycutler"
I'm not one who's quick to call players soft, especially with a knee injury. I've injured my knee and played on an injured knee (albeit baseball) and it's a very touch and go thing. I hurt my knee in a game in the second inning and sat the rest of the game. I played two days later and for the rest of the season, but I had no idea what I had done to my knee when I injured it, so I didn't want to risk playing on it. I'm inclined to give Cutler that benefit of the doubt, even given the magnitude of the game. There's a lot of talk about him not being seriously injured because he was walking around, etc. on the sideline. Well, I've seen players run off the field on torn ACL's. Just because you tear something in your knee doesn't mean you can't walk around. Some people have pointed to Philip Rivers playing on a torn ACL in the playoffs a few seasons ago. While that's commendable and shows his toughness, it's not even close to the same. The same goes for Jones-Drew and playing with his MCL injury. And just to be clear, no Jones-Drew you didn't play the whole season. You missed the last two games while your team was still in the playoff hunt and you were completely ineffective against the Colts in your final game, partly because you played on an injury, an injury you knew exactly what it was.
I think ESPN.com's AFC South Blogger Paul Kuharsky summed it up nicely.
Standing on the sideline in a parka is a much easier thing than dropping back, dodging a rush or absorbing a hit and stepping into throws. If he limped more, grimaced more, stayed in for a few more plays to make bad throws to prove just how bad it was, would that have made it more palatable?
Cutler's teammate Brian Urlacher took exception to the question in the post-game press conference. He made it a point to say Cutler is tough and none of them believe he's soft or question his toughness. While it could be good teammate lip service from Urlacher, he did seem upset at the claim of his quarterback's toughness being questioned. "It's easy to talk [expletive] about someone when you're sitting on your couch watching the game," Urlacher said in response to Jones-Drew.
I think we should all wait until Cutler's knee has been examined before we question his toughness.