Was he or wasn’t he? 23 January 2011

The big story out of yesterday’s NFL playoffs wasn’t the fact that between the two Super Bowl contenders there are 18 NFL titles (12 for Green Bay, 6 for Pittsburgh); not that Pittsburgh won its third AFC title in six years; not that the Packers reached their first Super Bowl since the end of the Favre era (with a quarterback that may someday surpass Brett’s achievements in Titletown); or even that Chicago’s third-string quarterback put in one of the most impressive performances by an essentially untested quarterback in memory — under the most extreme of circumstances.

No, the story, fueled by players’ tweets and fumbled by the media, was Jay Cutler’s injury, or lack thereof.

I watched the game, and, like everybody else, had no clue that Cutler was injured, beyond the two blood stains on his elbow that evoked memories of Barnabas Collins (for you younger readers, think “Twilight”).  A knee?  Didn’t see that hit. Neither did the TV crew, apparently. The normally astute Buck and Aikman were strangely uninformed. The camera crew only showed Cutler standing, walking or generally being aloof. No report from the sideline, just shots of Cutler riding the stationary bike. His return was “questionable.”

I’m not going to pass judgment. I’m not a Bears fan, so, far now, I can only take the Chicago staff at its word. I will pass a little judgment on the broadcasting team, though. This wasn’t a regular-season August game that will be forgotten about before next weekend. This game was monumental. Besides the Super Bowl implications, this was Packers-Bears! The oldest, and some would say the fiercest, rivalry in all of football. Where were the reporters with the microphones jammed in the coach’s face? Why didn’t we get any word? Who knows.

The astonishing part of this was the multitude of tweets by NFL players and former players who fired off their opinions of Cutler’s status during the game.  Yeah, you can say it’s just jealousy by a bunch of sour grapes guys who are watching, rather than playing, the NFC Championship. Or it could say something else that has nothing to do with our instantaneous media madness.

Did Cutler violate the unspoken honor among players — that if you can walk, you can play? Or are hens coming home to roost for a player who has been roundly (and justifiably) criticized for his attitude toward fans and reporters, his cavalier approach and his (perceived) lack of respect for football’s authority?

I don’t know, but it’s interesting, especially on a Monday! Here’s the NFL network’s story:  NFL Network

And here’s a sample of some of the tweets, courtesy of Yahoo.

Form your own opinions.

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