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Reuniting with your ex is always awkward. Do you give them a hug? A handshake? A peck on the cheek? Do you ignore them and try to quiet the screaming voices in your head? This Sunday, Jay Cutler sees his old flame in another jersey. Brandon Marshall... catching passes from another man.
In 2008, they helped each other reach the Pro Bowl. Leading up to this game, you can almost see the thought bubbles above their heads.
"Those were the days," they say with a smile.
Soft focus highlights dance in the corners of their minds. Touchdown bombs. Tight spirals. Fingertip grabs. Those were the days.
Now you get the feeling both men are looking at their current relationships and wishing they could turn back the clock. Marshall is trying to snag passes from the wet noodle arm of Tyler Thigpen while the broken corpses of Chad Pennington and Chad Henne slowly rot in the south Florida sun. Meanwhile, Cutler looks at a crew of receivers who couldn't run a proper route if you drew it on the field with chalk.
This Sunday, there will be plenty of difficult moments. Jay will bounce a pass off Devin Hester's facemask. He'll turn and lock eyes with Brandon and get embarrassed. Brandon will lay out for a pass thrown five yards out of bounds. He'll pick himself up and look over at Jay. They'll shrug. And maybe they'll laugh.
But deep down they'll know, they never should have parted ways. You can't go back.