Brian Urlacher says Jay Cutler is one of the toughest players on the Bears. | Getty Images
Updated: June 30, 2011 3:49PM
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who was among the first to defend his quarterback in January, still is seething about questions regarding Jay Cutler’s toughness.
“It was stupid,” Urlacher said Sunday, referring to other NFL players who criticized Cutler on Twitter after he left the NFC Championship Game in the third quarter. “Then all the guys that were trying to get attention, it was just dumb to me. They’re not playing, so don’t talk [trash] about someone who is playing.
“If Jay could have been in there, he would have been. That’s all I know. He’s not a little [expletive]. He’s a tough dude. He played hurt, and anyone who watches our games knows how tough he is.”
Still the face of the Bears, Urlacher vouched for Cutler, who missed nearly the entire second half with a Grade II tear of the medial collateral ligament, immediately after the 21-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
“Jay was hurt,” Urlacher said at the time, also dismissing “jealous” players who were calling out Cutler on Twitter. “He’s one of the toughest players on our football team.”
There are varying degrees of a player casting support for a beleaguered teammate.
And since Cutler arrived via trade during the 2009 offseason, there have been rumblings that the quarterback and revered linebacker didn’t like one another, most notably with former Bears receiver Bobby Wade telling KFAN-AM (1130) in Minneapolis last July that Urlacher referred to Cutler using a vulgar word for a female body part. Urlacher insisted at the time he never said that, and Wade later apologized for the incident.
Cutler isn’t overly concerned about how he’s perceived, but he has benefited from not having any teammate privately question his toughness while most teammates publicly have backed him.
None more candidly than Urlacher.
During an interview at St. Rita High School, where he was an honorary captain in the Chicago First Responders Memorial Bowl, Urlacher singled out Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, one of the most vocal to attack Cutler.
“He missed two games,” Urlacher said of Jones-Drew, who didn’t play in the final two games of the Jaguars’ 8-8 season. “I don’t know what was wrong with his knee, but don’t sit on the couch and talk about someone who is playing.”
Urlacher also is bothered by those who suggest that Cutler isn’t a leader for, among other reasons, not being outspoken.
“He doesn’t have to be vocal,” Urlacher said. “He shows up to work every day, he’s the first one in the building, practices his [butt] off and he does all the extra stuff. He does the right things.
“He sets up guys on offense, and he lets them know when they [screw] up. In practice, he gets after people. He’s the leader of our offense.”
Urlacher said following the lockout is “like a roller coaster,” but he believes the Bears’ leadership will help whenever football resumes. One of the regulars at the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, Urlacher said he misses the camaraderie more than anything.
“I don’t like the meetings,” he said, “but I like being with my teammates. We’re a close team. No matter who comes in and who leaves, our core guys stay the same.”
With that, Urlacher plugged the re-signing of a free agent.
“We’ve got to get Olin [Kreutz] back,” Urlacher said of the veteran center. “He’s been a core guy since I’ve been here, and there’s a reason our team has always been so close.”
Urlacher also cast support for the return of defensive tackle Anthony Adams.
“Double A is huge for us. He’s a great teammate,” Urlacher said. “He’s the guy who is there on time, practices every day and makes work fun for us.”
Last week, Urlacher generated some headlines when he told the Albuquerque Journal that the Bears — not the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers — were the NFC’s team to beat.
On Sunday, Urlacher expounded on that comment.
“Who doesn’t feel that way? You could go 0-16, but you’re still going to say that. If you don’t say that, then you don’t believe in your teammates,” Urlacher said. “Every guy on our team should say that, just like every other team is going to say that. That shouldn’t be a big deal.”