MORRISSEY: It’s Jay Cutler’s fault that he’s a distraction after big win
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com October 2, 2012 10:14PM
Brian Urlacher (right) said if there was a mutiny against Jay Cutler in the Bears locker room, then someone forgot to tell him. | AP
Updated: November 4, 2012 6:23AM
In the blur of late Monday night, shortly after the Bears had dismissed the Cowboys and long after Jay Cutler had dissed his offensive coordinator, the Bears quarterback said something that made my ears perk up.
“I know you guys got to sell papers,’’ he said. “It’s hard out there.’’
What a guy! The newspaper business has indeed been going through tough times, and here was Jay, showing compassion. Or, wait a second — perhaps he has a media empire in mind for his post-football career. Citizen Cutler? Hmmm.
An alternate interpretation: He believes the people who were asking questions about his nationally televised blow-off of Mike Tice are low-lifes looking to increase newspaper circulation and suck more of his blood.
Let’s go with B.
I’ve heard the you’re-just-trying-to-sell-newspapers line countless times over the years, and it has always intrigued me. If it means reporters are always looking for interesting and compelling stories that make people talk, think and form an opinion, then I’d say we’re guilty as hell.
And when a national audience sees Cutler, perhaps the most gifted quarterback in franchise history and certainly one of the most controversial Bears ever, walk away from an offensive coordinator who only wants to have a chat during a game, the question that comes to mind is not about how good the team is.
It’s about why Jay is being Jay again.
On his weekly radio show Tuesday, Cutler said, “It’s unfortunate these things get so much attention,’’ which is like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow complaining that hooves and lanterns get too much scrutiny.
He’s right about at least one thing. Reporters do like to write about him. He might as well be an editor the way he inserts himself in the headlines so often. That’s not us doing it. That’s him. He’s the gift that just keeps giving.
The Bears crushed the Cowboys 34-18 to move to 3-1. That should be the only conversation right now. We should be talking about the defense’s five interceptions of Tony Romo or the fine play of the offensive line.
But no. The cameras caught Cutler walking away from Tice, who had sat on a bench to talk with his quarterback — you know, how adults normally deal with one another. And here we are talking about why the purported team leader, at 29, still doesn’t play well with others.
Again, he made that the story. Nobody else.
Cutler sells papers, the same way the mayor sells papers, a teacher’s strike sells papers or a high-profile court case sells papers. It’s called “news,’’ and when the Bears quarterback continues his childish ways in a town that is obsessed with the Bears, it’s big news.
He has the ability to shape that news. What’s the trendy way of putting it? Ah, here it is: He can “win the news conference.’’ He can win whatever situation he’s in by being civil. But we all know that ship sailed at warp speed years ago, quite likely before he reached his teens.
At the postgame news conference, Cutler feigned ignorance about the Tice incident.
“What are we looking for here?’’ he said.
Answers would have been nice. What was he mad about during the game? Was it a communication issue with Tice and the sideline? Did he regret the way he acted? Did he apologize to Tice?
We know now he was frustrated about failing to convert a third-and-one. He chose to show his frustration by publicly snubbing the guy who calls the Bears’ plays.
How many people get away with treating bosses the way Cutler treated Tice? Anyone familiar with the Bears’ chain of command knows the answer: Cutler is the boss. Tice doesn’t work for him, not officially, but if it ever comes down to who stays and who goes, I hope Tice knows the airlines’ luggage policies.
At some point, though, the Bears may have to decide how much they’re willing to swallow, not in dollars but in dignity.
Cutler says reporters are always looking for controversy, but we don’t have to look for it with him. It will come to us, with a meltdown, a put-down or a tongue-lashing of a teammate. We just have to wait.
When Tice sat down and Cutler stood up, the quarterback had to know ESPN’s cameras were on him. The cameras are always on him, just in case. Just in case something like Monday night happens.
He didn’t disappoint. He rarely does. Start the presses.