Rick Reilly came out last week with an article for ESPN describing what a jerk Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is.
He mentioned in that piece how Cutler went out to dinner with John Elway and Mike Shanahan, and kept his gaze focused on the TV, ignoring any wisdom Elway was trying to impart his way.
He showed the same disdain for advice his rookie season when safety John Lynch was attempting to explain pass coverages to him. Cutler texted away until Lynch knocked the phone out of his hand.
So what does that all mean?
It means Jay Cutler is a jerk, but why does that matter? He's being paid to be a top-notch quarterback and nothing else. Barry Bonds was as big a jerk as there is, but the fans loved him, at least those in San Francisco.
It would be nice if he had an open mind and was willing to extract knowledge from those willing to feed him the stuff, but at the end of the day, he's either a good QB or he's not.
Would he perhaps be better if he listened and wasn't so stubborn: Yes, but that doesn't mean he's not a good quarterback.
Would he be more well liked if he didn't have the chip on his shoulder he apparently does? Probably so, but it still comes down to whether he's good at his job.
Rex Grossman was one of the nicest guys around, but he couldn't get the job done and was run out of town by Bear fans.
It's interesting what Denver Bronco fans thought of Cutler. I happened to be vacationing in Denver not too long after the trade to Chicago. I spoke to some fans expecting them to be outraged that the Broncos traded a 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback to Chicago.
Instead I was met with indifference from them. They didn't particularly care that he was traded for Kyle Orton and some draft picks, and I think I know why.
He never got the Broncos to the playoffs or even a winning season, with 8-8 being his benchmark. That, along with the persona he projected led them to not liking him much.
Winning is everything. You can be the biggest A-hole in the world, and fans will slobber all over you if you win.
Chicago Bulls fans hated Dennis Rodman when he was with the Detroit Pistons. There was a lot of trepidation when he was traded to the Bulls, but all of that disappeared when he helped lead them to three consecutive NBA titles.
His cross-dressing and multi-colored do's just became a part of who he was, and who were we to judge, as long as he helped us win.
There are certain athletes that just have a look about them that makes you want to slug them. A.J. Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox is one of those guys, and former Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett did just that in a game against the Sox after Pierzynski scored a run, clocking him in the jaw.
Unfortunately, they all have personalities to match.
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen commented about Pierzynski, "When he's not on your team you hate him; when he's on your team, you hate him a little bit less."
Part of Reilly's rant against Cutler had to do with how he handled the press conference that Reilly flew in to attend. What he didn't know, since he's not from here, is that Cutler would rather have a root canal than speak to the media. He only does it because it's required.
The 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears also had a quarterback that could be a bit of a jerk in Jim McMahon, known as the "punky QB," but he led the Bears to the championship.
That team was one of the most colorful teams in the history of sports, and their leader was "Da Coach," Mike Ditka, glorified forever in sketches on Saturday Night Live.
The members of that team are still treated like Gods in Chicago, and they only won one time. But they won.
Instead of the charismatic Ditka, this Bear team is led by the colorless Lovie Smith, who has as much personality as hair.
The persona of the team has followed his lead. They're not much fun, and not particularly likable. They don't have a lot of personality like the '85 Bears did.
This is a completely different team, and that's why they have had such a hard time from the media and the fans in this town. People don't want to like them, but everyone likes a winner.
Before the season, the thought was, as Packer fans like to say, "The Bears still suck." Everybody expected the Bears to tank the season, and Lovie Smith to be shown the door.
Well, they haven't sucked this year. Whether they are lucky or good is up for debate, but they're playing to get into the Super Bowl on Sunday against the Packers.
Jay Cutler will be judged by the fandom. And Sunday will take on even more meaning than this game ordinarily would because the opponent is the hated Packers.
If Cutler leads the team to victory, and a date in Dallas, he will be forever enshrined as a hero in this town, despite his outward demeanor.
But if he plays poorly and the Bears lose on Sunday, they'll be lining up in Chicago to punch his "jerk face," at least figuratively, if not literally.
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