Jenna Cutler says her misunderstood brother is just hysterical
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org January 16, 2011 11:06PM
Updated: April 8, 2011 5:00PM
Twenty of Jay Cutler’s relatives and friends lingered in a private suite at Soldier Field on Sunday evening after the Bears’ 35-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, anticipating his news conference in the bowels of the stadium.
The Bears quarterback had been thrust under the media microscope in the days leading up to his first postseason game since high school, yet the focus was more on his off-field personality than his on-field performance.
So those closest to Cutler reveled in all that transpired Sunday, starting with his four-touchdown performance and ending with his pleasant — and sometimes playful — news conference.
Asked if he’s going to be “warmer” with the media moving forward, Cutler quipped, “I’m trying.
“Can’t you tell?”
Reporters chuckled in the interview room, and relatives and friends smiled and laughed in the suite.
“He was so much fun,” said Jenna Cutler, Jay’s sister. “That’s Jay.
“He’s down-to-earth, and he’s a really funny guy. Actually, he’s hysterical.
“He just doesn’t like all the attention.”
Cutler downplayed all the interest in him last week, most notably a piece by ESPN.com columnist Rick Reilly, who wrote that “If he’s not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he’s in the running.”
“Mr. Reilly wasn’t very happy with me; I saw that,” Cutler said. “It is what it is. Like I said, nothing outside that building [Halas Hall] is going to affect me, or, hopefully, anybody on our team.”
Jenna said her brother doesn’t read stories or watch newscasts. Once in a while, if anything, she e-mails Jay links to stories involving him and his girlfriend, actress Kristin Cavallari.
Jack Cutler, their father, is the one Jenna worries about.
“I tell my dad, ‘Do not read that!’ He doesn’t get it, and he gets frustrated with it.
“But what can you do?”
They insist that Cutler is miscast as a miscreant.
“The most unlikable player in the NFL? I don’t know where they’re coming up with that stuff,” said Jenna, who runs the Jay Cutler Foundation. “That kind of ticked me off.”
Criticism has been unfair
So has criticism that Cutler didn’t widely publicize his visit with young patients at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, the day after the Bears defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football last month.
“He wanted it to be intimate,” she said.
“I know he’s the Chicago Bears quarterback, and he’s going to get a lot of publicity. But he likes to do his job, get in and get out. I don’t know what people want from him.”
To a man, Bears coaches and players aren’t complaining about Cutler.
Coach Lovie Smith gushed about his quarterback Sunday, noting that “it starts with Jay Cutler.”
He accounted for four touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground, and didn’t turn the ball over.
“That’s about as good a quarterback play as you’re going to get,” said Bears tight end Greg Olsen, who led his team with 113 receiving yards. “But he had control, and we consistently moved the ball.”
Asked about Cutler’s game, Bears center Olin Kreutz said, “It was awesome.
“The work Jay puts in, he deserves it, and hopefully people see what kind of quarterback and person he really is.”
So what is Cutler really like?
“Jay is the kind of guy who isn’t fake,” Kreutz said.
Perception isn’t reality
Bears running back Chester Taylor is new to the team, signing as a free agent after playing for the Vikings, but he said perception isn’t reality with his new quarterback.
“I know he has his temper tantrums,” Taylor said, “but he’s a great guy. What I respect most is his toughness. He’ll stick it up in there, when he runs it, and he’ll take the hits.
“And he is a fiery guy. I also like that.”
Jenna may have stoked that passion.
“We’re 15 months apart, and we grew up super competitive,” she said. “If he was going to ride a bike, then I’m on the bike the next day, and I was going to ride it.”
But he was protective, especially of her.
“Everybody was scared of him and scared to ask me out,” she said. “Jay had to leave high school before I got my first boyfriend.”
Teammates from Vanderbilt and the Denver Broncos were in town for Cutler’s playoff debut. But, fittingly, Cutler and his clan celebrated in a private room at a downtown restaurant.
“Everyone is ecstatic,” Jenna said. “It’s such a great win, and we’ve got the Packers next week.”