Tough Times for Rex, but Does Jay Cutler Change His Chicago Legacy?

Sean CassidyContributor IMay 24, 2009

SEATTLE - AUGUST 16:  Quarterback Rex Grossman #8 of the Chicago Bears calls the play during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 16, 2008 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 29-26. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Rex Grossman...His name alone brings about a staggering variety and range of emotions that just might match the peaks and valleys in his play. He is the most polarizing Chicago sports figure of the new millennium, and maybe any millennium for that matter.

Not an easy task when you consider that Sammy Sosa went from helping the Cubs get to within five outs of a World Series to more or less run out of town after the following season.

His fall from grace might have been one of the roughest and most brutal ever for an athlete who didn’t break a rule, law, or get involved in some sort of crime/sex scandal.

As one of the last off the Rex bandwagon I can personally attest it was a bumpy ride.

How did he go from NFL Offensive Player of the Month for September 2006 and starting Super Bowl XLI to:

  • Having his agent twitter about him just to make sure everyone knows he’s still around and didn’t secretly retire or give up football.
  • Watching Kyle Boller, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dan Orlovsky, Patrick Ramsey and Joey Harrington all find jobs before him.
  • And have his name surface as a possible try-out candidate for a new four-team football league that might last slightly longer than the XFL.

Where exactly is the rock that stops this bottoming out?

This is the end result of all the injuries, fumbled snaps, interceptions, constant media and fan scrutiny. A player with obvious talent, that once exuded unshakable and infectious confidence, being so broken that he can’t find a job in a league that employs the likes of Brock Berlin, Ken Dorsey and Marques Tuiasosopo.

But it’s easier to look back on Rex’s tenure in Chicago now, now that we’ve got Jay Cutler.

What was once a painful nightmare, an open wound, is instead just scar. Something fans can look back on with the confidence of someone who’s climbed the mountain and has a begrudging respect for all the trials and stumbles along the way.

The way Red Sox fans can embrace Bill Buckner.

The way Cubs fans will apologize to Steve Bartman—and they will once the Cubbies win it all.

Fans can look at Rex Grossman now and with wistful sympathy say, ‘He was simply over-matched.’ Injuries that derailed his development left him unprepared for the pressure of filling the most important position for the most important team in Chicago, especially during a title run.

Kyle Orton couldn’t do that. Jay Cutler can.

Jay Cutler makes it possible for a fan to suggest bringing Grossman back to be the veteran back-up this team needs and having people in the room pause just long enough to escape without bodily harm.

The Bears may never bring him back for an opening coin toss or to make an appearance at the fan expo, but at least people won’t go out of their way not to mention his name. Jay Cutler has done that.

And whether he plays in the NFL this season—as Rosenhaus insists he will—or not Rex will be remembered differently this year than anyone expected. Maybe he should send Jay a thank you card.