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Jay Cutler quietly goes about charitable work in Kenya

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

NEW ORLEANS — Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has opted to fly under the NFL radar in the days, weeks and months since he left the NFC title game with a knee injury.

But now Cutler’s not even on the continent.

Cutler accompanied his girlfriend, Kristin ­Cavallari, on a trip to Kenya with the non-profit One Kid One World, which focuses on rebuilding schools and ­providing supplies to ­students and teachers in Kenya and El Salvador.

On March 8, ­Cavallari posted on her Twitter ­account that she would be making the trip to Kenya with the non-profit organization and wouldn’t be ­“tweeting” for two weeks. Meanwhile, there was no mention of Cutler’s whereabouts on his website.

This, of course, should come as no surprise.

Cutler hasn’t spoken to the media since Jan. 23, when the Bears lost 21-14 to the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. He endured an unprecedented multimedia attack as players, fans and analysts questioned his toughness because he didn’t finish the game. Even after it was reported that he suffered a Grade II tear of the medial collateral ligament, Cutler’s critics didn’t back down. Yet the quarterback didn’t step up to address the clamor.

And just as he did in December, when he quietly visited sick children at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital with Cavallari, Cutler again passed an opportunity to publicize his charitable endeavors.

“That’s the side of Jay a lot of people don’t know,” Bears president Ted Phillips said Sunday. “He does have a caring side to him.”

But his image, apparently, isn’t among his points of emphasis.

And therein lies one of the reasons Cutler is unique. Other big-name NFL players, particularly quarterbacks, are diligent about their public perception. Whether of his choosing or not, Cutler doesn’t pitch products. And certainly of his choosing, Cutler also agrees to interviews very close to the NFL mandate.

Two years ago, when the Denver Broncos hired Josh McDaniels, Cutler’s relationship quickly soured amid reports that the new coach was ­interested in acquiring one of his former New ­England Patriots players, Matt ­Cassel.

Cutler told the Sun-Times last September that he confronted McDaniels about the rumors.

“He acted like he had no idea what I was talking about,” Cutler said. “Then it took him two or three days to finally admit that he tried to trade me.”

Then, during a meeting, McDaniels told Cutler that any player could be traded at any time.

“By that point, I was like, ‘You know what? Just trade me now,’ ” Cutler recalled.

So it should come as no surprise that the Bears are showing Cutler love, even if he has been out of pocket. Phillips admitted members of the organization “really haven’t talked to him.”

“Maybe some of the coaches did,” Phillips said. “Now, with the work stoppage, we can’t talk to him. But when the time comes, we’ll sit down with him and see how things are going.

Asked if the Bears would consider trading Cutler, Phillips said, “I mean, no one is untradeable. But we couldn’t be happier with Jay as our QB. He’s our guy. Our organization has never wavered in saying, ‘Jay’s our quarterback, and we’re excited to have him.’ ”

If the Bears plan to keep him, then Phillips is taking the right tack.

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