Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
By John Mullin
If the Seattle Seahawks know as little about Jay Cutler as the general public, the Bears should be in very good shape on Sunday.
As he does most weeks at his standard weekly press conference, the Bears quarterback took questions Wednesday. One was from an out-of-town writer, wanting to know from Cutler how many in the crowded media room really knew Cutler.
I dont know, Cutler said. Youre gonna have to poll these guys, I guess.
A couple of hands attached to senses of humor went up in the back of the room.
Right there, thats one, Cutler said, smiling. Two.
Why is that the case? he was asked.
Because they raised their hands, Cutler said, deftly dodging the real question. I dont hang out with anybody in this room on a regular basis except for Wednesday press conferences. So Im sure its kind of hard to get to know somebody within a 10-minute weekly press conference.
But if his demeanor, the looks away from whoever is talking to him or the other indicators suggest standoffishness, those who see him the most insist thats not the real Jay.
There have been Bears quarterbacks thoroughly disliked by teammates. Cade McNown comes immediately to mind. Jim McMahon had the offensive side of the locker room behind him and some on the defensive side ready to punch him out. Olin Kreutz once had to be restrained from taking out Moses Moreno during a pre-practice snapping drill in training camp.
Derisive comments were made by the likes of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher about Cutler when he was acquired. But those were taken largely out of context and fell under the general heading of defensive guys considering all quarterbacks a sub-species.
Cutler is nowhere near that list or description.
I probably know him better than yall do, said running back Matt Forte. I will tell you that hes probably the opposite of what you media guys portray him to be. Jays a good guy who comes to work every day to work hard. A lot of guys get this perception of Jay as whatever, arrogant, but I think hes the opposite of that.
Of all the quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck and Cutler Cutler has perhaps the poorest reputation, something that followed him from Denver. (Ben Roethlisberger is also still in the playoffs but neither Cutler nor the rest of the group deserve to be lumped into any reputation or personality sentence with Roethlisberger and his off-field conduct.)
Cutler is active through his foundation in working against diabetes, but his public appearances at schools and such have not always been comfortable experiences for either Cutler or those waiting for him, sources said.
But public perceptions are far less important this time of year than what teammates think of him. Cutler, as quarterbacks routinely do, occasionally attended the traditional weekly offensive line dinner, although that custom was discontinued some weeks ago after being moved to Monday nights.
Cutler and the team have strictly limited his availability to Wednesday press conferences and post-game podium Q&As. So if few people have any real idea what Cutler is like as a person, thats Cutlers choice.
As soon as they put cameras in the huddle and on the sideline and tape everything, which is pretty close, said Kreutz, youll never know who guys really are.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.