Jay Cutler and Perception Versus Reality

Only the MRI will confirm whether there is damage to Jay Cutler’s knee.  How much damage, could he have still played, what was the pain level, did he quit – those are questions that won’t be answered by the MRI.  Those questions are left to the fans to speculate.  And based on the early returns Cutler is doomed.

NFL football is a brutal sport and every week we see players injured from violent hits.  On the biggest stage of Jay Cutler’s career, in front of his home fans and with a Super Bowl birth on the line we didn’t see that violent hit that took him out of the game.  So naturally everyone is questioning what happened.  Now if you knew that he had been sacked more than 50 times this year you wouldn’t question his toughness.

Unfortunately for Cutler, Philip Rivers once played in an AFC Championship with a torn ACL.  This is what it is supposed to mean to players, especially the quarterback, the warrior above all warriors trying to lead his team to victory.  When an injusry doesn’t appear to rise to that level perception takes over.

In Jay Cutler’s case perception took over several years ago when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos.  Petulant, moody, disengaged, removed, not a team player, questionable decision making – all perception-related terms that have been used to describe him.  Notice toughness has never been questioned.  After all, this was a player who played a full season as an undiagnosed diabetic early in his career.  How could you question his toughness?

Then the whole Josh McDaniels saga began in Denver and Cutler was shipped out to the Bears before the ink was dry on McDaniels’ contract.  Cutler took the hit because afterall, he was the one perceived to be the problem.  Two years later and following the complete destruction of the Denver Broncos, McDaniels gets fired and Jay Cutler is playing for the NFC championship.

The perception had been cemented that Cutler’s physical tools were great enough to overcome his mental shortcomings, but were they enough to lead the Bears to the championship?  You heard it from the analysts leading up to the game, that Cutler would make a bad decision or two and that they may be the turning point in the game.

After being largely ineffective through the first half of the game Cutler got hurt and didn’t return.  Immediately his toughness was called into question.  What?  Toughness?  Where did that come from? And it came from everywhere via Twitterland blasting Cutler, his toughness and resolve.

The response indicates that everyone out there has a perception of Jay Cutler being one of questionable character.  Reality is irrelevant.  The speed with which this took hold during the course of the game was remarkable.  It wouldn’t have happened in a tweetless environment, but that’s the new world.  Nevertheless, perception is now in the driver’s seat and Cutler’s reputation has taken such a hit he may never recover.


About Mike

Mike has been an executive in the biotechnology industry for the past 20 years. Mike is a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, earning Bachelors degrees in Business Economics and Geography. Mike also earned his MBA in Finance from California State University, Fresno. Mike is married to the mother of his 3 children and currently lives outside of Boulder, CO. In his spare time Mike enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, reading and coaching basketball.
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