My Take on Cutler: Intersection of Sports Culture/ Media/ Psychology

I was asked my opinion by a national sportswriter yesterday, of my analysis of why: " so many NFL players  had talked to (this sportswriter) in the past week, who believed that Cutler violated some macho code."

My take:  Had Cutler made a few more pass plays, or had Lovie Smith and Mike Martz called a much better game plan, the dialogue would not have been as harsh. But much more has surfaced since the NFL Championship game, which requires attention and acknowledgment. 

My field of clinical social work, for over 30 years, has taught me how to "read" peoples' body language and facial expressions.  This is a common activity we all engage in.  As to Cutler, arm chair football players and sports' show analysts  have inferred certain conclusions made of Cutler's behavior by what they were shown and what we saw ,through our TV screens.

With this in mind,   TV producers choose to display & present certain shots of athletes - during a game, at a press conference, etc., which then allows the audience to make their own "judgments" about the player's' facial expressions and body language.  All of these decisions are highly subjective in the court of public opinion.

Because Cutler has less of a "media persona" (compared with many other QBs), than what we have come to expect from our major athletes, he can be appear somewhat "aloof" to most people.  Rick Reilly's piece was very subjective and judgmental.  Has he ever sat down with Cutler and talked with him?  Has he ever gotten to know what "makes him tick"?

I do know this from reading the sports' news pages and watching post-game interviews: Chicago Bear players, such as Urlacher, Tillman,  Kruetz, and others, reported being quite upset about the negative tweets and accusations made about Cutler. Cutler has taken 52 sacks this year, which I believe, is one of the highest of any QB this year.  These teammates defended his "toughness", period.  They reported that Jay never complained about any pain, and came to practice every day, and worked as hard as possible.

Sunday:  The Bears' organization, which includes GM Angelo and Coach Smith, did a huge disservice to Cutler, by not informing FOX sports during the game, or even after the game, what the nature of the injury was, nor that it was their decision to sit him.  

In addition:   FOX Sports did a terrible job by not going after this story in the 3rd quarter - when Jay was taken out after 2 incomplete passes (apparently he could not plant his knee since the injury was that bad).  Had the audience known during ,or right after the game, it possibly would have silenced some of the vitriolic tweets and commentators' analyses.  

Finally, on Monday, Lovie informed the public, (after the constant barrage of media hits against Cutler), that Jay  WANTED to continue playing, but it was Lovie's decision, and the decision of the team doctors, to not allow him to continue playing. Another sack could have been career ending.  Has this made the rounds in the media?  Not really - people love to hear more "negative news" and hype, than being provided an explanation of why his QB was taken out.  

That being said:  Cutler probably needs a PR person, or someone to help him with "his image,"  especially in this day and age of media-driven/ tweets/ social networking stories, and paparazzi followers.

The machismo of players to challenge others' stamina or laziness, is just that: macho men making macho taunts.   I never heard another female basketball player go after another woman re: her mental or physical "toughness" or "desire" to win.

Finally - I read/ heard a newscaster on Chicago Comcast Sports:  when Cutler was told about these accusations and negative comments, at his locker after the game, he got teary - eyed.  So the next thing we hear is that football guys are calling him a "sissy" for crying. Yet others are saying Jay doesn't care what people think, from his type of  "matter-of-fact responses given during interviews,  So -  damned if you do and damned if you don't.  

Politically speaking now:  did anyone call Rep.  John Boehner a "sissy" when he cried several times in press conferences last November, when he knew he'd be the new Speaker of the House of  Representatives?  No - instead he was praised.  Wasn't Patricia Schroeder, past- Senator from Colorado and VP candidate, criticized by politicians for "crying" on TV when announcing her retirement?  A little sexism never hurt anyone, right?    

And now, no one has called out  Roethlisberger for his alleged sexual assault on 2 young women.  These women saw what Kobe Bryant's accuser had to endure in court.  So why should they put themselves out there?  What Ben did/ how he behaved with HIS machismo towards young women, is ignored, and even supported as "good ol' boy behavior."  He is still called a hero because he can throw a pass and win games, right? 

Simply stated,  our culture's media response is this:  we love winners, and we'll blame losers, period. All can be forgotten and forgiven, as long as you win the game.  Right on Ben, we love ya. Take my daughter out on a date.  

Let's call it like it is:  Cutler had a bad game by missing key passing plays.  Lovie and Martz called a bad game. The Bears offensive line did a bad job at protecting their QB.   It was an ugly game - and people are/ were using Cutler's "so-called lack of toughness" as an excuse for what the fans,  FOX ,  the sponsors,  Godell, and the NFL would have preferred to see in the NFC Championship game:  2 QB's bringing us a competitive game.  

Rodgers did a  good job the first half, but not as well the 2nd half.  And he won. And Cutler did not. But this South Side Sports Chick firmly believes that the vitriolic atmosphere which has graced  and side-lined some of the NFL commentary this week, is a prime example of how sports culture/ media/ psychology/ and economics can be warped, and wrapped, into one story line. And the beat goes on............... 


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