Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference. It may be too late for Jay
Cutler to alter his public image.
But he could have helped himself by following the unwritten rules that
apply to an NFL quarterback who leaves a playoff game under less-than-clear
Jay Cutler, perceived as vain and arrogant, did not look concerned
enough. He did not present himself as a counsel to either Todd Collins or
Caleb Hanie. He did not arrange to have himself tended to by medical staff
often enough so people would at least think the decision not to return
wasn't his. He just looked and acted like, as someone has put it, a guy in
the way. But he has never seemed to care about cultivating a positive
image, and this was not an occasion for him to start doing so.
But the real story is the insidious damage caused by an instant form of
communication known as "Twitter." People no longer keep their in-game
thoughts to themselves. People send messages nationwide, often commenting
on things, the truth of which they can only guess at. And when some of
those people are NFL players, past or present, that itself becomes The
Story, as it did in this case.
I don't want to hear from Deion Sanders, the only All-Pro cornerback
who eschewed tackling as if it were a math course. I don't need to know
what Mark Schlereth is thinking on the subject. I mean, I already know.
He's a certified tough guy who had 29 surgeries during his career, 15 of
them on his left knee alone. So, duh, yeah, he's going to vilify Jay
Look, I'm predisposed to dislike Jay Cutler myself. You don't hear
anything good about him. But wouldn't you think someone we all believe to
be vain and arrogant would want to stay in and become a hero? He's a smart
guy. I'm going to guess he actually belonged in Vanderbilt. He might be
smart enough to know that he was not going to be of any use to the team in
the state he was in yesterday.
That said, he was never going to get the immediate benefit of the
doubt, and the existence of Twitter made this into a far bigger story than
it should have been.