AL HAMNIK: Cutler's MNF toughness should send a message to all

2012-10-23T17:00:00Z 2012-12-10T22:37:05Z AL HAMNIK: Cutler's MNF toughness should send a message to allAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 23, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Goodbye Super Bowl. Farewell New Orleans. The season is over. When do the Bulls open?

Oh, the deep, deep depression.

After watching franchise quarterback Jay Cutler be smothered Monday night by the human avalanche known as Ndamukong Su, anyone tuned in figured (a) concussion, (b) separated right shoulder, (c) broken arm or (d) broken ribs.

Cutler couldn't have hit the ground any harder if he had fallen from a plane.

He left the game for a locker room exam at halftime, then returned to start the third quarter. Say what you will about the guy, and his critics usually do, but this Indiana native is one tough hombre.

That should mean more than charm and media accessibility.

ESPN had a lot of fun at Cutler's expense in their pregame reports and studio babble Monday night.

In one lengthy segment, a reporter walked through downtown Chicago with various large headshots of Cutler frowning, grimacing, smirking, acting indifferent, grumpy, bored and smug, while getting public reaction to each.

The reporter even positioned Cutler's photos with landmark statues, on park benches, and using any other "prop" that would draw a chuckle.

Yes, his behavior often warrants such needling. But on the field, where you want Jay Cutler to lead the Bears and win games, you can see his true value to the organization and the city.

He is no coward, no quitter, and quite talented.

Yes, he can be a pain to deal with, but most professional athletes are at one time or another.

Monday night, though, Cutler may have won over a few more fans, at least those sitting on the fence.

"I wasn't feeling exactly 100 percent but we had to fight through it," he said of his second-half struggle to grip the ball firmly and throw with any velocity.

"At that point when (Suh) got a hold of me, I knew it wasn't going to end well."

The 5-1 Bears, their bust-your-lip defense leading the way, will host Carolina on Sunday and Cutler is certain to still be recovering.

"I think later in the week it's going to be a little difficult," he said of simple routines like breathing, bending and sitting.

He should wear a flak jacket from now on.

"I wear one anyway," Cutler said.

The Lions game was easy to forget if you're a stats freak. Cutler completed 16 of 31 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown, and  ran three times for 34 yards. Not bad, considering.

"I missed some throws," he said, sounding apologetic.

The fact Cutler returned at all wasn't lost on teammates or the Lions' defense, which appeared very concerned as he lay there, writhing in pain.

"It's what he is. He's just a tough guy and that's what you should have as your Chicago Bears quarterback," coach Lovie Smith said.

Brandon Marshall said Cutler's return gave the Bears "an emotional lift."

And this, from Earl Bennett: "He's a competitor. No matter how beat up he is, he wants to get back in there and help us win the game."

Who would you rather have? Ryan Seacrest or a fearless QB? I thought so.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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