Recently, Rick Reilly of ESPN.com said Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler was in the running for "The Most Hated Man in the NFL". Reilly proceeded to mock Cutler for his seemingly indifferent attitude at press conferences and his general lack of cheer. Reilly even called Cutler out for his ambivalence towards endorsements, as if such sycophantic behavior towards the media is expected from quarterbacks in the NFL.
Reilly isn't alone in his dislike for Chicago's newest franchise Quarterback. Cutler is far from a media darling. He's best known around the league for his inconsistent play, pouty sideline scowl, and three lackluster seasons in Denver that ended in a mysterious feud and trade to Chicago. But that's only part of the story.
During his first two seasons in the NFL, Jay Cutler was playing with undiagnosed Type One Diabetes. It wasn't until the 2007 season ended that Cutler received the diagnosis and started measuring his blood sugar and receiving insulin. He spent most of his 2008 season figuring out how to manage both the game and his fluctuating blood sugar on the field.
Anyone familiar with the symptoms of Type One Diabetes will know how difficult it is just to get through an average day with the disease. The symptoms of Diabetes include physical exhaustion, extreme thirst, weight loss, and blurred vision. It's impossible to imagine that all of these symptoms wouldn't have a major effect on athletic performance. But Cutler played on. In light of his condition, the fact that Cutler was able to throw for almost 3,500 yards during the 2007 season is beyond remarkable.
Today, Cutler receives treatment for his diabetes. He can often be seen on the sideline checking his blood sugar before games. In just a few years, Cutler has found a new home team, mastered the regulation of his disease, and learned a complex offensive system designed by Mike Martz. He deserves credit for these accomplishments, although he certainly won't go looking for it. He's just not that type of guy.
Off the field, Cutler keeps a pretty low profile. You won't see him doing goofy commercials or modeling for cologne ads, and you won't see him laughing very often, although he did smile on camera after his first playoff victory. But most of us in Chicago don't care. We never asked for a charismatic playboy for a quarterback. We asked for a quarterback who can win games for us. And Cutler can.
Cutler's playoff debut was impressive. Despite an underlying consensus outside of Chicago that Cutler was going to choke, he did quite the opposite. His first playoff pass was a 58-yard laser thrown to Greg Olsen for a touchdown. He proceeded to throw for one more touchdown, and had two rushing touchdowns to top it off. Chicago hasn't seen a Quarterback run for a touchdown since Jim McMahon.
Regardless of what happens this weekend against the Packers, Cutler has proven himself to be a playoff-caliber quarterback. And that's something Chicago has been dreaming of for a long, long time. Whether the media is ready to embrace Jay Cutler or not, we here in Chicago are proud of him.
And we're not alone. Cutler's beautiful celebrity girlfriend, Kristin Cavallari, has been known to proudly tweet about her boyfriend after he throws touchdown passes. In fact, she just announced to People magazine that she is "in love" with Jay Cutler.
Well, Kristin, we are too.
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