CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 14: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears runs through smoke during player introductions before a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 14, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 27-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jay Cutler
In a league where players Tweet their every thought and star in dating reality shows, are followed through training camp by HBO cameras and even have an entire network devoted completely to them, fans have gotten used to being "close" to their players. This is especially true in Chicago, where we take players in our arms and celebrate their accomplishments, even 25 years later. A city where we pack a stadium to mourn our most beloved Bear. According to a national sports columnist, it's also a city where we have no connection with our star quarterback, and that's all Jay Cutler's fault.
ESPN the Magazine's Rick Reilly says that Cutler is disconnected from the fans and in the running for the most hated man in the NFL. He supports this with anecdotes about Cutler's years in Denver -- when he was an unseasoned rookie -- and with his uncomfortable performances at press conferences. He brings up Cutler's charity work, which includes delivering toys to sicks kids at a hospital during the holidays and raising money to fight diabetes. But then Reilly criticizes Cutler for not publicizing his kind efforts, and not taking advantage of his role as the star of the Bears to get more endorsements.
So, because Cutler acted like an aloof 23-year-old (when he was 23), didn't like talking to press, and didn't want to trumpet his own good deeds, he's the most hated man in the NFL? More hated than the man who dropped his pregnant girlfriend to marry a supermodel? More hated than the man who allegedly sexually harassed team employees, made his own retirement/unretirement/re-retirement spectacle a national, months-long saga? More hated than the man who killed a pedestrian while drunk driving? More hated than the commissioner and owners who are pushing for a lock-out that could rob fans of a football season?
Are you serious, Rick? Cutler's reticence to engage media makes the job difficult for my colleagues and I, but it's pretty arrogant to call someone else arrogant for not wanting to talk to you. It's equally arrogant to swoop in on a city, sit through one press conference and criticize our connection with a player.
We do love our football players in Chicago, Rick. What we really don't like is arrogant out-of-towners telling us how to think.