When Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler stood on the sidelines for most of the second half in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against Green Bay, he must have known there was a storm brewing.
The Bears' starting quarterback left the game early in the second half with a knee injury and didn't return. The Bears went on to lose, 21-14.
Many NFL players tweeted and texted during and after the contest, questioning Cutler's toughness and desire for coming out of a game of such magnitude. Although his Bear teammates were quick to jump to his defense, other current and former NFL players were in near-unanimous agreement: Cutler's injury, a possibly torn MCL, didn't hurt them at all.
"There's no way I would let an injury to Jay Cutler keep me out of a championship game like that," said a relaxed Maurice Jones-Drew, lounging by the poolside in Miami. "I would tough it out and play no matter how badly he was hurt."
"Of course I would play," said linebacker Derrick Brooks , grittily working his way through another round of golf. "As long as the injury happened to him, I would absolutely refuse to come off the field."
"I'm not questioning his toughness, just his manhood," said Deion Sanders, who hasn't played in years and never tackled anybody when he did. "I could've played that game running backwards. Just like I played every game."
Cutler, who gave way to backups Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to the Packers, was said to be distraught over the treatment from his fellow professionals, and coach Lovie Smith indicated that the decision was made by the medical staff to pull the fifth-year starter. It was claimed that the knee, which Cutler could not remember injuring on any specific play, was having stability issues and prevented the quarterback from planting and throwing. Still, other players were having none of it.
"I don't care how much pain he's in," chimed in Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes, grimacing from a deep tissue massage. "They would have to drag me off the field. We all play hurt this time of year. I mean when we're playing, that is."
Cutler is expected to have surgery on his knee, which is fine.
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