As grouchy and occasionally downcast as Cutler sometimes looks on the sideline, it's really not about him. It's about the picture the media has painted of him.
This is one of the biggest things I've learned on the NFC North beat—Cutler can't and won't ever get a break.
Every facial expression, every gesture (or non-gesture), every vocal intonation is ripped apart, diagrammed and then, if it doesn't fit the narrative (Jay Cutler is a jerk), set on fire and forgotten.
Heck, it seems as though there is a network camera focused on him as he walks the sidelines just to catch any sneer, frown, shrug or blank expression for use on highlight shows Sunday evening as an example of "Wow, does this guy look like a grouch."
It has gotten to the point where he is more disliked than a guy who was responsible for killing dogs (Mike Vick), a guy who is perceived as having been involved in a double murder (Ray Lewis) and had people screaming for his head for two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, and a guy widely regarded as one of the dirtiest players in the game (Ndamukong Suh).
Hell, Suh and Lewis aren't even on the list.
What exactly is so easy to hate about Cutler?
It's funny because the easy answer is also somewhat incorrect. Like Barry Bonds, Cutler isn't exactly known for his media warmth—which comes across in what gets written about him.
However, if you listen to him on his weekly spots on the Waddle & Silvy Show, does he come across as nasty or mean?
No, and in fact the more I listened (and watched thanks to the video clips on ESPNChicago.com) this season, the more I felt the vast majority of us outside of Chicago (and maybe a few inside the city as well) have been missing out.
It's not that Cutler is a fuzzy panda bear or ever will be. However, the reality outside the usual media narrative is that he can be open and honest, frank and personable at times. Maybe you need to earn that from him, and maybe that's next to impossible.
But it's there, and it was on display most weeks for anyone to see (or hear).
I'm not saying he doesn't have his moments. We've seen those as well.
It's just that he rarely—if ever—gets credit for them.
Which makes me think that, ultimately, this list (and others like it) are more about perception rather than reality. More about what the media talks about and highlights than what Cutler is really about.
Like most things regarding athletes and celebrities, we don't have the full story on Cutler, and more than likely we never will.
But it looks to me as if he is far from deserving of his ranking as one of the most hated athletes in sports, earned on the strength of a scowl and an ill-considered shove which—let's be honest—did more to help the offensive line performance than Mike Martz seemed to.
I know Cutler doesn't care about being on this list—he certainly wouldn't let us know if he did—but I'll say it anyway.
It's ridiculous that Cutler is on this list at all, much less fourth.
This isn't so much a "Most Hated Athletes" list so much as it is a "Most Commonly Portrayed Badly In the News" list.
At the end of the day, Cutler probably can't do anything about that and, honestly, shouldn't waste his time trying.
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