CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears smiles late in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers aren't in-your-face stars. They're not in every other local commercial, cashing in on their roles as Chicago royalty. They speak with media because it's part of their job, not to push their brand.
When Peppers gave $100,000 to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters and met with 12 students from around Chicago, he didn't seek publicity. Cutler brought toys to the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital and brushed off his questions about good deeds.
They seek glory and success on the football field, but they are private men when they leave it. Cutler's sister said that her brother is funny and down-to-earth, but just isn't comfortable with the attention.
Peppers and Cutler take their cues from an equally stoic coach. Lovie Smith has been criticized for not being fiery enough on the sidelines, but that's just how he operates.
"In the end, if I felt like me doing a whole lot of talking would help us play better, I’d start doing a whole lot more of that," Smith said.
He's been with Chicago for seven years, and has yet to have a hissy fit on the sidelines or press room. It's not likely to start this week.
Chicago is not used to quiet stars. We're used to Jim McMahon, Dennis Rodman and Patrick Kane. We're used to coaches who yell and players who enjoy the spotlight. We want to compare our current teams to the teams of the past, teams who have brought us winning and glory and laughter and joy.
These Bears don't fit that mold. They're making their own way in the landscape of Chicago sports.