Tice takes the high road on Cutler incident
By Sean Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org October 3, 2012 10:16PM
Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice talks to players in the second half of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. The Bears won 23-6. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: November 5, 2012 11:44AM
Mike Tice is unpredictable around cameras and tape recorders and especially reporters armed only with note pads.
Most coaches might zig; Tice will zag.
He’ll surprise with his blunt honesty and even reveal too much about his own physical challenges.
But on Wednesday, Tice followed convention in addressing quarterback Jay Cutler sulking away from him in the second quarter of the victory Monday over the Dallas Cowboys. Tice took a page from his former coach with the Vikings, who once famously said, “If you’re looking for Denny Green, look on the high road ’cause that is where you will find me.”
Asked if he was surprised that Cutler walked away, Tice laughed and said, “He probably had enough of me telling him why the play didn’t work.
“I get enough of me sometimes, too. I can talk a little bit, as you guys know. The heat of the battle, it’s tough. A lot of things happen on the sideline. A lot of things happen over the course of a game. I was really angry about the fact that we didn’t make that third-and-one. I was in his ear from the time he came off the field to the time he went over and put his helmet down. At a certain point, probably enough’s enough.”
Tice took the company line.
That’s certainly the wise approach, given the circumstances.
The Bears are coming off their biggest victory in over 10 months with his offense trouncing the league’s No. 1-rated defense in Dallas. They’re preparing to face the Jaguars, where Tice rebuilt his reputation after the Vikings parted ways with him in the wake of the Super Bowl ticket and Love Boat scandals on his watch.
During his 14-year NFL career, Tice surely had instances when his emotions got the better of him. But on Monday, he swallowed his pride, and he handled the situation professionally.
Then as the Bears’ offense started to roll, he and Cutler were clearly just fine.
The ESPN cameras showed the walk-off, but Tice lamented that it didn’t show Cutler smacking him on the bottom later in the game.
“They didn’t show that one,” Tice playfully said. “I wish they would have showed that one. And I smacked him back. That’s the way it goes.”
One source said Cutler “apologized” for the incident, presumably to Tice. Asked if he talked to Tice about it, Cutler said, “I mean, we talked about it just because it’s so prevalent in the media for whatever reason.
“But it wasn’t an issue then, and it’s not an issue now.”
Bears backup quarterback Jason Campbell starred at Auburn, and he started for the Redskins and Raiders. He has endured the spotlight.
“A lot of it comes with the territory,” Campbell said.
“People are always watching, and once one incident happens, then you become a target, and people are always watching for the next incident and the next incident after that.
“A lot of times, it may get blown 10 times worse than what it really is. But that’s just the world that we live in.”
Cutler seems resistant to his reality, but he needs to begin to accept it.
There wasn’t a hint of frustration or anger from Tice on Wednesday as he heaped praise on Cutler.
“Jay and I are good,’’ Tice said. ‘‘I really admire his play the other night. I really admire how he’s prepared himself right now. I really admire how he’s bought in.”
But Tice isn’t anyone’s pushover. So as their relationship moves forward, Cutler had better treat him with respect.