Suddenly, in Chicago, Steve Bartman isn’t looked upon with the same level of scathing disdain as he was a week ago Now, it appears that Jay Cutler has supplanted Bartman as persona non grata in the Windy City after Chicago lost the NFC Championship, the Halas Trophy, and a berth in Super Bowl XLV on home soil.
Two weeks ago, Cutler was king as he joined Otto Graham as the only other quarterback in the history of the playoffs to throw and run for two touchdowns in a playoff game. Leading the Bears past the Seattle and into the NFC Championship against arch rival Green Bay, the returns on the trade that landed Cutler from Denver were beginning to pay off. Cutler was beginning to erase the quarterback ghosts of the past. After all, Bears fans have been aching for a start quarterback to come along and allow them to forget the likes of Shane Matthews, Steve Stenstrom, Cade McNown, Jonathan Quinn and Moses Moreno.
Yuck. In fact, double yuck.
But as we’ve seen in the past, all it takes is a week for your luck to change just that fast, because in the blink of an eye Cutler has gone from hero to heel after sitting out a majority of the second half in last Sunday’s NFC Championship loss against Green Bay with some degree of a knee injury. How could this be? How badly was Cutler hurt? What was the severity of his injury? Was it so painful that he couldn’t gut it out? Why can’t he go back out there? Why does he look it’s no big deal? How come he’s not in the face of Lovie Smith and the coaching staff, demanding to go back into the game? These were just a sampling of questions racing through the minds of Bears fans and football fans alike as we watched the surreal moment of the Bears going it without their starting quarterback and eventually turning to third stringer Caleb Hanie.
His absence in the most critical time of need for the Bears drew the ire from former and current NFL players (Maurice Jones-Drew, Darnell Dockett, Derrick Brooks to name a few). Cutler’s guts, leadership and toughness have all come under heavy fire, without a hose in sight to douse the flames of criticism without knowing the true seriousness of Cutler’s injury. Speaking of flames, photos surfaced after the game of Bears fans burning Cutler jerseys in the parking lot. Cavaliers fans would be proud.
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