Don’t be mad at Jay Cutler; it’s harder to admit injury than keep going

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler at a press conference earlier this season.

Chicago Bears fans are angry this morning, the day after the Green Bay Packers whopped them on their home field to clinch the NFC championship title. And their anger seems to be focused on injured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Cutler hobbled off the field early in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury.

People all over Chicago, on Facebook and Twitter are calling him a wimp, using other words that I won’t repeat here.

But I’d like to take the opposite stance: I think Cutler did the right thing.

It’s not often that I write about professional sports — this is a running/triathlete blog, after all. But I do write about injuries; this I know a lot about.

And what I know is this: admitting that you’re hurt takes a guts. It’s not easy to say not only to yourself, but in Cutler’s case, also to coaches and thousands of spectators, that your body has had enough.

It took me three years of repeated running injuries to get it through my thick head that the only way you can heal and come back even better is to STOP.

Cutler’s teammates are defending him today, saying he is in fact tough, and citing that he was sacked 52 times this year — the most in the NFL for the season — getting back up after each and every one of them.

Here’s what at least one teammate told the Chicago Sun-Times:

Center Olin Kreutz said he saw Cutler’s knee “shaking” and “swinging like this,” motioning his hand back and forth quickly, an indication of instability.

“I didn’t think he was going to even finish the half,” Kreutz said. “Then when he came out and tried it again [in the third quarter]; that amazed me.

“If you don’t have an MCL injury or whatever, then you don’t understand. It’s easy to question people from your couch, but it’s really stupid.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you haven’t torn a ligament in your knee, it’s difficult to comprehend. I tore my MCL and dislocated my knee cap in 2005. It was excruciating. You can’t put weight on it. You can’t walk. Let alone play a whole half in an NFL championship game?

I get that Bears fans want their quarterback to suck it up, deal with the pain, and keep going — that is what he gets paid millions of dollars to do, after all. But how pissed would they be if their QB did suck it up and ended up in worse shape, only to continue to draw that huge salary…?

Cutler did the right thing. (Even if he had played and carried the Bears to the Super Bowl, he’d have a leg that just dangles there. And that wouldn’t do anyone much good.)

He’s got an MRI scheduled with the doctor today. So I imagine the conversation will continue. UPDATE: Cutler strained his MCL. Ow.

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