Jay Cutler is missing the extra ‘something’ best QBs have
RICK TELANDER email@example.com January 24, 2012 9:24PM
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Injured starting quarterback Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears stands on the sideline during their game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 27, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\134185946.jpg
Updated: January 25, 2012 2:17AM
Guess who’s in the Super Bowl?
Tom Brady and Eli Manning.
Any surprises there?
The quarterbacks for the New England Patriots and New York Giants, respectively, will be making their seventh combined Super Bowl appearances (five for Brady, two for Manning), with four victories — and a fifth guaranteed — and three MVP awards between them.
Four years ago, they faced each other in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. In that game, Manning threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Giants to a 17-14 victory and ruin the Patriots’ perfect season.
This season, the two were at the top of their game. Brady passed for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns with 12 interceptions; Manning threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.
In the playoffs, Brady has a 105.8 passer rating; Manning is at 103.1.
It’s not like these guys dropped on the scene with no credentials. Indeed, Brady, who holds all kinds of NFL records, is 34, and the still-improving Manning (Peyton’s little brother, remember) is 31.
Plus, they have established connections with their coaches — Brady with Bill Belichick, Manning with Tom Coughlin — that make them steady and unconfused in moments of crisis.
A lot of great quarterbacks have bitten the turf in this postseason, and no team consists of its passing offense only. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are out, and those guys are as good as it gets.
But it takes something special to be a Super Bowl quarterback — one with a good chance to win, that is — and besides skill, good luck and a lack of injuries, it has to do with that intangible that simply can be labeled ‘‘Leader.’’
Which brings us to Chicago.
There is no question the Bears’ Jay Cutler is the most talented quarterback any of us who is not a senior citizen has seen in this city.
Fired general manager Jerry Angelo basically staked his career on that premise, and it’s possible his only major flaw was that he didn’t also snag a decent backup to lead the Bears when Cutler got hurt. Hindsight is terrific, isn’t it?
But what’s more troubling is that when compared to quarterbacks such as Brady and Manning — or Rodgers, Brees and maybe even Matthew Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger and others — Cutler seems to lack that extra ‘‘something.’’
His lack of media skills and personality are well-known, and that’s fine. But does he have the locker room behind him?
It seems Cutler’s blank-faced nothingness must affect those around him. It certainly has affected certain professional people who have had contact with him and have wanted nothing more than a simple smile or ‘‘hello.’’
‘‘He’s a sh--,’’ says one member of the Bears’ extended staff, a man who wishes to remain anonymous. ‘‘You see him, and he doesn’t even acknowledge your presence.’’
If you don’t like unattributed quotes — and I’m not a fan of them myself in most situations — simply dismiss that last statement. But Cutler’s disconnect is a trait that has to be dissected because it might be the one thing that will prevent the Bears from achieving the heights of success.
Does it concern anyone that while sports media members are cranking up their inspection of Brady and Manning, what we get from Cutler is gossip-item stuff suited for People or Us Weekly?
To wit, Cutler and his back-again Hollywood girlfirend, Kristin Cavallari, ‘‘are pregnant,’’ and a baby is due sometime in late summer. There is no wedding news, of course, because that is the Hollywood way.
Cutler hates publicity, but he is with a woman who lives for it. Indeed, a starting nickname for her might be ‘‘Mom From ‘The Hills.’ ’’
No sportswriter wants to get into anyone else’s love life, but if Cutler is so media-shy, why did he feel it necessary to tweet Monday: ‘‘For the record, I never broke up with Kristin.’’
See, they had a wedding planned for July, and Cutler dumped her — or not. Well, let’s let the Aug. 8, 2011, issue of Life & Style Weekly tell the tale: ‘‘Alone, heartbroken and no longer wearing her magnificent 5.2-carat Asscher-cut diamond engagement ring, Kristin leaned on her good friends Nicky Hilton and Alessandra Ambrosio. Instead of letting her curl up with a pint of ice cream on the couch at home . . . the girls convinced Kristin to join them for a night on the town at L.A.’s Beverly Lounge.’’
I know, who cares?
And didn’t Brady have a child out of wedlock with an actress named Bridget Moynahan before marrying a Brazilian supermodel?
Yes, he did.
And I feel creepily like a TMZ stringer just bringing that up.
But Brady is a freak. And he has matured.
The Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo went down that celeb path awhile back, and it seems he has wised up a bit, too — now that he has been aced out of the playoffs over and over.
For Cutler, let’s hope for a happy birth and eventual marriage.
Or whatever it is that ‘‘Dancing With the Stars’’ stars do.
Maybe they lead you to Super Bowls, you know?