STEVE HANLON: Cutler gets practice in fan friendliness

2013-08-02T19:00:00Z 2013-09-16T18:39:18Z STEVE HANLON: Cutler gets practice in fan friendlinessSteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
August 02, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

Jay Cutler is the Honey Boo Boo of Chicago sports. Bears' fans loved him at first and couldn't wait to watch another episode. Then, after time, some started looking at him like he was Mama June in a bikini.

The Go Go Juice turned to warm, sour buttermilk.

In 2009 Cutler was brought to Chicago as "The Savior." But Bears management wanted him to be Jesus and not a NFL quarterback. A Swiss-cheese offensive line and one bad offensive coordinator after another almost got Cutler killed.

Literally.

Some fans turned on him. His standoffish personality didn't help. He wasn't Ernie Banks with fans because he was probably tired of bad coaching and blocking. Who could blame him for being angry.

He had every right to have such an attitude. Check the cuts and bruises.

But this could be a new era for Cutler and the Bears. Last Friday the Bears opened training camp in Bourbonnais with a new coach, Marc Trestman, and a new attitude.

Portage 7-year-old Brady Quinn McCormack got a taste of what could be the new Jay Cutler. Let's hope what transpired is a trend.

McCormack wasn't feeling too good so he got on the lap of his father, Portage football coach Wally McCormack. An older man in Bears attire and a big badge noting he was important stopped his golf cart.

Brady was wearing an orange Cutler jersey with No. 6 proudly displayed.

"You like Jay Cutler?" the man asked. "Would you like to meet him after practice?"

The youngster almost had his own Honey Boo Boo moment. He asked his dad if he could and the heart started racing as practice went on.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

"I thought it was really cool that I was going to get to meet Jay Cutler," Brady said Wednesday night. "The Bears are my favorite team. Well, my favorite NFL team. The Indians and the Irish, too."

Wally knew the time constraints of a NFL star, especially one known for not spending much time with the people who love him each Sunday. So he told his son to be hopeful, but it might not happen.

At the end of the practice the quarterbacks went to the farthest field from where the McCormacks were standing. Tick. Tock.

"I thought maybe the guy forgot to tell him," Wally said.

"I was worried he wasn't going to come see me," Brady said.

Then, a golf cart with two people drove over to the nearly-empty sidelines. Cutler had a smile on his face. He yelled out, "Are you Brady?"

Cutler got on his knees and signed the jersey. He signed a program. He became an instant hero for a young man and his dad.

"I've been a Bears fan my entire life and Jay Cutler is my favorite Bear of all-time," Wally said. "It was really nice. All I said to him was, 'Thank you."

Brady made a shrine in his bedroom, where the jersey now hangs like a candle in Graceland.

"He asked me if I was in school," Brady said. "He shook my hand like a man. His hands were huge."

When Wally McCormack was an assistant coach at Chesterton he was asked to look up the statistical records of past Trojans' teams. The name Jack Cutler came up at the top of about 30 offensive records, Wally remembered.

Jack, Jay's father, moved his family to Santa Claus, Ind., where Jay starred at Heritage Hills High School.

"I thought it was really cool meeting him because of Jack and his connection to Chesterton and the region," Wally said. "Brady thought it was cool because he is the Bears QB."

The Associated Press published photographs last Friday of Cutler signing autographs of many other fans. This rarity was noted by many.

Here's hoping the new Bears regime will give Cutler and the offense a chance to breath. And a reason to smile.

I need it. You need it. We all do.

"He was a really nice guy," Brady said. "When I watch the Bears this (fall) I can point and him and say, 'I know that guy' and that's pretty cool."

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

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

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