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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Overshadowed

This should have been a huge week for the National Football League.  Two teams with rich histories, Pittsburgh and Green Bay are headed for the Super Bowl.  The game will be played in the league's newest and plushest stadium, Dallas.  Playoff games the last three weeks have been filled with excitement.

Instead, we're getting a steady stream of stories, across all media, on Jay Cutler and his knee.

Let me, briefly, get you up to speed.  Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback,  pulled himself out of the N.F.C. championship game Sunday afternoon because he said he hurt his knee.  The criticism started immediately.  There are many who thought Cutler should have stayed in the game until he was carried off the field.  There are allegations that Cutler is a quitter.

I've never heard anything good about Jay Cutler, but are you ready for this?  I'm coming to his defense.  No one knows what's in Cutler's heart and head.  At the time, we didn't know what was in his knee, but an MRI Monday showed there is indeed some damage.  Was it enough to leave the game?  There is only one person who knows the answer to that.  None of us are in a position to second guess.

If Cutler wanted out, that's okay by me-- and it's for a reason that enters through the back door.

Let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time, I worked at a TV station with a very talented individual.  That person got a great job offer from a station in a much bigger city.  The station wouldn't let this person go, and the individual was held to the terms of the contract.

So, what happened next?  This person became an absolute bear (Cutler's a Bear.  Get it?) to work with-- not a team player, lazy, self centered, unhappy, downright miserable.  The moral of the story?  I'd rather have a second stringer who wants to be there than top line talent who doesn't.

I realize if you let one person out of a contract, you have to do it for everyone.  What good is a contract if you're not going to live up to your end of the bargain?  If they cut loose the miserable person, it would have opened up a whole new can of worms.

If Jay Cutler was too timid or too hurt to carry on, let someone else carry the ball.  Sorry about the pun.  What good is all that talent if you're not going to use it?  Jay Cutler wasn't helping the team.  My former co-worker wasn't helping the station.  I should add that this person and I got along great.  I was not a target of the discontent.

Jay Cutler's most important contribution Sunday might have been walking off the field.