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Hey, Twitter, Jay is no quitter


Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was told of the Twitter ­comments from fellow NFL players and said: “Nothing like jealous people who are sitting home watching. ­Players around the league, you said, right? Yeah, love jealous people when they’re watching our game on TV while their ­season is over. For them to question his toughness is stupid to me.”

A sampling of what some NFL players tweeted about Cutler:

• Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now ... When the going gets tough........QUIT..

Maurice Jones Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars running back


Derrick Brooks, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker

• If my knee was hurt or acl/mcl/pcl sprain, I would not be standing up on the sideline. #jaycutler

Kirk Morrison, Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

My goodness, is this what it has come to in our Twitter world?

People watching on TV think Jay Cutler is a wuss?

People tweeting and Facebooking and blogging think the Bears’ starting quarterback was faking a knee injury when he didn’t play in the second half of the NFC Championship Game?

‘‘He’s a tough son of a bitch,’’ hissed Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, barely containing his anger. ‘‘You’ve seen the hits he’s taken throughout his career? And he never complains.’’

Urlacher was standing near his locker, having nearly lost it earlier when he was told yet again by a media questioner that ‘‘players around the league’’ had been wondering whether Cutler was hurt or wussing out.

Urlacher calmed himself while responding to that one. You could see him self-check, stop in mid-flow and slip into vanilla.

But now he was dressed in slacks and a black sweater big enough for a circus animal, away from the pack, and he shook his head thinking about the critics who were so far from the arena and the grand violence of this Packers-Bears thing.

Why weren’t they playing? he asked. He went on a quiet, brief, but profanity-laced, diatribe against those nameless critics. See, if you question a leader’s toughness in a sport like this, after a loss like this, 21-14 to your archrivals, you question the heart and the mission of all who work beside him.

‘‘Who the [bleep] are those [bleeps]?’’ Urlacher said of the doubters. There were a few more choice words, but Urlacher’s point was clear: Based on what?

Cutler played poorly, no doubt about that. He completed only six passes and threw an interception. His two-quarters-and-one-series passer rating was a pathetic 31.8. Nor was it clear when he hurt his knee, although apparently it was on the final play of the first half.

Yes, he threw a long interception on that play, but to think he decided to quit after that — well, that would be high treason. And if it were true, everything the Bears stand for would be vapor.

Still, you don’t base facts simply on what you want to be true.

Cutler has a lot of flaws as a quarterback — throwing off his back foot, streakiness, occasional bouts of poor decision-making — but toughness is not one.

The guy has missed only two games since he became a starter for the Broncos five years ago. He has been blasted and trampled — he was sacked 57 times this season, including the postseason — and he always bounces back.

He has played with Type 1 diabetes for years, and, if anything, he minimizes any of his burdens.

The trouble for Cutler is that he is a person who doesn’t elicit much empathy. He appears cold and aloof in public, steeped in cliches when interviewed, and he neither courts our understanding nor seems to care about it.

In short, he’s not one to get the benefit of the doubt in tough situations.

When he was asked if he could have gone back into the game, and he replied that it was ‘‘probably better that I didn’t — I know my knee, my body,’’ it didn’t help his cause.

You’re not going to take big risks in this, the biggest game of your life?

But that’s Cutler. He doesn’t care if people understand.

The Bears’ team doctors actually told him at halftime that he shouldn’t keep playing. And yet he tried, for one series, at least.

Funny, even the Packers didn’t want him to leave.

‘‘I looked out there, and they had a new quarterback,’’ Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. ‘‘I kinda wish we had Jay in there the whole game the way things were going.’’

Third-stringer Caleb Hanie came in and nearly led the Bears to a comeback win.

‘‘Obviously, you don’t expect to come into a situation like that,’’ Hanie said after Cutler was gone and second-string QB Todd Collins had been yanked. ‘‘But you try to do what you can to win.’’

For the record, Hanie was about twice as good as Cutler, throwing for 153 yards and a touchdown and finishing with a 65.2 passer rating.

Cutler may have proved he is far from being an elite postseason quarterback. True. Very true. But if he quit on the team, well . . . it just doesn’t seem possible.

‘‘I’m proud of our guys,’’ Urlacher said.

And he knows his mates a lot better than the tweeters do.

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