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Exclusive: Deion stands by criticism of Cutler

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

ARLINGTON, Texas — NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, who might be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday as a cornerback, refused to backpedal on recent critical comments he made about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

‘‘There’s perception and reality. The perception is he tapped out,’’ Sanders told the Sun-Times on Tuesday. ‘‘The reality is, the kid may really be hurt. But that’s perception and reality.

‘‘I’m not backing down from that statement. But it doesn’t help his cause that he’s walking up a flight of stairs to eat dinner [and] he’s shopping in California.’’

When Cutler was sidelined after trying to play in the opening series of the second half in the NFC Championship Game on
Jan. 23 against the Green Bay Packers, Sanders was among the current and former NFL players to attack Cutler on Twitter, the popular social-media site.

Sanders said on his Twitter account that ‘‘u must drag me off the field’’ in a playoff game. He apologized to Bears fans, questioned Cutler’s heart and even suggested Dr. James Andrews, a famed orthopedic surgeon, needed to ‘‘operate live’’ on Cutler.

‘‘Perception wouldn’t have been as such if people had actually seen the injury,’’ Sanders said Tuesday. ‘‘You don’t even know when an MRI happened. When was the MRI done, the Monday that they showed up at the complex?’’

Later, when he was asked about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Sanders answered the question and looked at a Sun-Times reporter.

‘‘I love Romo,’’ Sanders said. ‘‘I think he’s one of the best in the game, and he showed me a lot when he was injured and they didn’t want him to go back in and he wanted to go back in. I’m looking at [a Sun-Times reporter] when I say that for a certain reason.’’

Sanders lamented that Cutler was filmed shopping with his girlfriend, Kristin Cavallari, at a Los Angeles mall days after his season ended.

‘‘I feel really bad for the kid,’’ Sanders said. ‘‘I hope someone can get to him and help him make better decisions because it really doesn’t help his cause.’’

But Sanders pointed to the maturation of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and
expressed optimism about Cutler bouncing back.

‘‘Michael Vick has matured quite a bit through all the trials and tribulations,’’ Sanders said. ‘‘He’s quite a different guy than what he was several years ago.

‘‘I think Jay’s going to be all right.’’

Never afraid to be outspoken, Sanders outlined what is expected of an NFL starting quarterback.

‘‘Poise, care, charm, directness, believability, mental [and] physical toughness, all of those attributes,’’ he said. ‘‘When your team gets its butt kicked, you take the blame. When you win, give the credit away. But you want to see care and attentiveness.’’

Ultimately, though, every quarterback must do one thing above all else.

‘‘Quarterbacks, as well as head coaches, are measured by wins and losses,’’ Sanders said. ‘‘Winning cures everything.’’

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