Tuesday, January 18, 2011

3 comments The Chicago Bears Owe Rick Reilly a Thank You Note

Rick Reilly may have inadvertently cost the Green Bay Packers a chance to advance to the Super Bowl.

I have no doubt that many of you, despite despising every word that emerges from the ESPN.com's second best featured writer (I guess worst since he's 2/2), read him anyway. But recently he wrote an article berating Jay Cutler for being, well, everything we already knew him to be. A party boy. Unfriendly. Kind of a dick, to be honest. But that's okay. As long as he performs on the field, we really shouldn't care. In fact, what's really the difference between Cutler and Belichick (in terms of personality)? We only revere Belichick because he gets it done on the field. Sort of. To go on a tangent for a second, isn't funny how the media has completely ignored the beloved Brady/Belichick duo's three straight playoff losses? Had this been Peyton Manning, we would not be hearing the end of it.

Anyway, back to Reilly and his latest gem. Since it's not my specialty, I won't analyze and pick apart all of Reilly's words. And greater men have already said it better than I ever could, including the pioneers over at Fire Jay Mariotti and the Daily Herald's Bob LeGere. I will, however, comment on the interesting dynamic that Reilly unintentionally created.

I never cared about Jay Cutler. Sure, he and Philip Rivers were involved in numerous, 15-year-old girl-like scuffles back in the AFC West, but he was nothing more than a mildly entertaining character. And then Reilly blasted Cutler for all of his faults. Not only was I shocked at the blatant callousness of the article, but his possible swinging of an entirely pro-Green Bay national fan base.

Let's be honest for a second. The national fan base would prefer Green Bay to win. Even Vegas has pegged Green Bay as the 3.5 point favorite (and they're on the road). Not only can the entire franchise shove a Super Bowl appearance in the face of Brett Favre, but they can completely vindicate their choice of moving on from the sub-par quarterbacking that dominated Green Bay's latter half of the 2000's. In only 3 seasons, Aaron Rodgers has captivated everyone. His "aw-shucks" attitude is every bit endearing as Brett Favre's annual off-season circus is off-putting. Especially in comparison to Jay Cutler, he seems like everything right with the NFL and the quarterback position.

But Rick Reilly had to intervene. His baseless accusations that merely stemmed from frustration over Cutler's unwillingness to divulge his every secret has, in some way, made Cutler and the Bears likable. At the beginning of the season, morale towards Chicago swayed in the opposite direction. Lovie Smith's firing was long overdue, Jay Cutler was nothing more than an interception-prone gunslinger and Chicago's early success was nothing more than a fluke. Now, it seems, the tables have turned. As I wrote last week, Chicago seemed to be an underdog. No one wanted to see them succeed. Seattle was the feel-good story which had to move on. They even possessed the same "you should not even be in the playoffs" feel as the '06-'07 Golden State Warriors. And then, just as Seattle's upset over New Orleans and crushing loss at the hands of Chicago, they outperformed their skill level and the entire nation jumped on the bandwagon. Five games later, the Utah Jazz had brought them back to reality.

Before Reilly, it was fashionable to hate on the Bears. After Reilly, I just feel bad. In the back of our minds we know that the media portrays athlete's in a manner usually far from the truth. yet it's easier to just accept mainstream ideas. They spread like wildfire. How many times has someone said to you "I heard that...," and you, without verification, believed it. As much as I try to use my rationality, my perceptions are ultimately swayed by what the media chooses to report. Reilly's article, however, compelled me to see the light. Without Rick, I would have never thought otherwise of Jay Cutler. Through this process of swaying my perception of Jay Cutler, I realized that a common occurrence was happening. The Bears, the favorite, were truly an underdog, not only in the points spread. In fact, they have three of the most defining qualities of an NFL underdog.

1) No one trusts their regular season success.
2) They've already lost to the same team at home.
3) They have a QB whom everyone criticizes in spite of their record.

And now, thanks to Rick, they the 4th, and most important quality: a QB who has been personally attacked. I, at least, feel bad. To a degree, I'm afraid of the motivation that Reilly has created. Jay Cutler may not publicly admit it, but Reilly has definitely lit a fire. They already shut him up with a decisive victory over Seattle. I would not be surprised if they shut him and the rest of the haters up again against Green Bay.

Our NFL picks, which shall rear their beautiful heads this Thursday, were pretty easy in my mind. But now that I consider the cherry that Reilly placed on top of the Chicago motivational cake, I'm not so sure.


Bengoodfella said...

I have a hard time seeing Jay Cutler as defensible and I did pick the Packers to make the Super Bowl. I do have to admit when I saw that article by Rick Reilly I thought it was a terrible hack job. It is a great example of a sportswriter not liking a certain player and essentially telling everyone else, "hey, you shouldn't like him either."

Of course ESPN has no problem with Reilly writing such an article, probably because they are just happy he isn't writing an article ripping off a prior article he has written.

I don't know if this will motivate Cutler, he seems like he is kind of in his own world. Reilly's article was terrible though and I am sure there will be some people cheering for Cutler to prove him wrong.

your favourite sun said...

2) They've already lost to the same team at home.

Not in 2010 they didn't.

Dylan said...


Cutler is definitely in his own world. I just would not be surprised if this did not motivate the rest of his team. Also, this is the kind of thing to bring him back to reality.


You're right. For whatever reason I had it in my head that the week 17 matchup was at home. Obviously, it was not. Hopefully that does not completely invalidate my point.