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Cutler finds himself on disliked player list, but is he that bad?

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler

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Updated: February 6, 2013 11:11AM

If it weren’t enough for Jay Cutler to learn that he isn’t as good as Joe Flacco, that he won’t, yet again, be going to Disney World and that, barring some sort of miracle, won’t win a Super Bowl, he “found out” Tuesday that he’s not very well liked.

Cutler finding out that he’s not popular is like the rest of finding out that we’re not amphibians.

The Bears quarterback finished fourth behind Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o and Tiger Woods in recent Nielsen/E-Poll survey of the 10 most-disliked athletes in America. The damning part is that he didn’t need injections, a nonexistent girlfriend or sex-addiction rehab to get there. I’d like to think he’d rise to No. 1 if he’d rob a candy store, but I don’t want to give his fiancee, reality star Kristin Cavallari, any ideas.

We in Chicago have learned to live with Cutler’s personality, and I mean that sincerely. Where others hear grunts from him, we hear sentences. Where others hear non-answers, we hear criticism of the offensive line. Where others see him bumping tackle J’Marcus Webb in anger, well, OK, we see that too.

The rest of the list includes Metta World Peace (former crowd brawler), Alex Rodriguez (steroid user), Michael Vick (dog abuser), Kurt Busch (hot-headed gearhead), Kobe Bryant (hotel employee devotee) and Tony Romo (Cowboys quarterback who’s not Roger Staubach).

Wait, Cutler’s ahead of Ray Lewis?

Some of what’s behind this ranking comes from the Jan. 23, 2011, NFC Championship against the Packers, when Cutler suffered a knee injury and hardly played in the second half. Several NFL players took to Twitter that day and ripped him for not playing hurt.

Their criticism was misplaced. They could have ripped him for being a whiner, a bad teammate and something of a social misfit. But given an opening, they went after his toughness. Uh, wrong. Say whatever you want about Cutler, but don’t question his toughness. He too often plays when he shouldn’t.

The blame goes to the Bears, who refused to say specifically during that game what was wrong with their quarterback. Their silence allowed lots of players to criticize him on Twitter.

“Cmon cutler u have to come back,” Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes wrote. “This is the NFC championship if u didn’t know!”

Wrote Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew: “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee ... I played the whole season on one.”

Those comments have something to do with why Cutler is on a list populated by some of the biggest jerks in sports. The Bears didn’t help him when they refused to let anyone know during the game that Cutler had suffered a medial collateral ligament injury.

I have the feeling that Cutler would have done fairly well in those popularity surveys on his own. A germophobe wouldn’t consider him touchy-feely. He can be standoffish, boorish and pretty much any ish besides impish.

But … I don’t know. Cutler in the same ballpark as Armstrong, Te’o and Woods? Wow. That’s some heavy-duty talent ahead of him. Remember, Armstrong is one of the all-time con men, as good as any snake-oil salesman who worked out of a covered wagon. Te’o finds himself on that list because he’s from Notre Dame and because he’s in the middle of one of the most bizarre stories in decades. Woods couldn’t be any more of a lightning rod if he held up a 3-iron during an electrical storm.

There are unpopular people, and then there are odd people who belong in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. Cutler belongs in the former group. His people skills are not what you’d call refined. I can’t remember a time when he called anyone in the media by his or her first name, and that includes the people on his radio show. OK, maybe Tom Waddle, who was a Bear in a former life.

Cavallari told E! that she and Cutler will get married this year. And, yes, the ring has been delivered.

“It was so silly,’’ she said. “I was in the airport, leaving Chicago. We had just spent however many days together and we were text-ing and somehow it came up, like, ‘Oh, shall we get married?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, OK.’ And then he sent my ring in the mail.’’

Hey, my wife told me we were getting married. That has to put me on the top 10 of any hated list, doesn’t it?

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