After undergoing an MRI today, the Bears announced that Cutler suffered a Grade II MCL sprain in his left knee—meaning a partial terror of the MCL—an injury that typically requires 3-4 weeks to heal. The injury is of the type that would warrant one’s removal from the game, as such a sprain would limit Cutler’s lateral movement and inhibit his ability to plant his front foot when making throws.
But, the interesting aspect of the whole ordeal wasn’t that Cutler failed to finish the game. The most fascinating development was how quickly and venomous the anti-Cutler sentiments began flowing. The anti-Cutler reaction resulted largely because of his reputation. He is not known to act friendly with the media or fans, but rather he comes off as aloof and disinterested. His body language is notoriously poor, and he appears as a moping whiner. The anti-Cutler reaction snowballed largely because few members of the blogosphere/Twitterverse had interest in defending Cutler’s toughness or the legitimacy of his injury. Consequently, the anti-Cutler cries grew louder and louder, unrestrained in large part.
If Jay Culter held a stronger reputation for toughness in the football community, neither the media nor his peers would have piled on their negative remarks the way they did. Did the local Seattle media or other players around the league throw Matt Hasselbeck under the bus when he was unable to play in the Week 17 game against the Rams with the playoffs on the line? No, because Matt Hasselbeck is well-liked, and maintains a strong reputation among fans and his peers.
The Cutler saga relates to a developing situation in Seattle.
Milton Bradley’s reputation suffers from his actions both on and off the field. He’s built his reputation over the course of his entire career, over multiple seasons and with multiple teams in both the American and National Leagues. His most recent run-in with the law, regardless of whether he’s convicted of anything, will only further damage an already-tarnished reputation. Last week, when the story broke that Bradley had been arrested in Los Angeles County, nobody in baseball rushed to Bradley’s defense, cautioning critics to wait until all the facts came in. But, while current/former players weren’t Tweeting about Bradley, the comments section of every newspaper read as if Bradley was already guilty of whatever he’d been accused.
In the end, players who develop negative reputations have their work cut out for them. The media won’t jump to their defense, and fans won’t hesitate to blog/Tweet negative posts about these guys, simply because they aren’t likeable. Jay Cutler and Milton Bradley have overstayed their welcome in their home cities the eyes of some, as evidenced by Bear fans burning Cutler jerseys in the Soldier Field parking lot after the game—and Mariner fans calling for Bradley’s release on word of his arrest.
Let this be a lesson to upcoming stars. Be likeable, and make smart decisions. Poor reputations are difficult to improve.