Jay Cutler Bashing: A Classic Case of Projection?

By Greg Hyatt, SacMidtown.com

I have to start this off with a huge disclaimer: I am a big Chicago Bears fan.

So automatically, some reading this will brush it off as a fan’s bias. Fair enough. Although I’m a California kid, I decided to adopt them as my team in the mid 1990s, after living in Illinois for a few years.

Also, I am not a psychologist and have no formal training in psychology, but I’m going to attempt to play one in this article (End of Disclaimer).

The tough defeat the Chicago Bears took in the epic NFC Championship game Jan. 23 against their rivals the Green Bay Packers became even tougher when current and former NFL players, analysts, and some of the general public decided to rip quarterback, Jay Cutler. The blasting came immediately after the Bears lost a  close game, 21-14. Hell, even some Bears fans started ripping the quarterback (and a few strange videos of burning his jersey).

And the discussion continued on sports talk radio, ESPN, etc. the entire Monday after the game.

Cutler came out of the game early in the 3rd quarter after suffering an MCL injury and never returned. Within minutes, a number of current NFL players jumped onto their twitter accounts and immediately starting blasting Cutler for coming out of the game (despite not having the facts about the injury. It was later revealed by Bears head coach Lovie Smith and others that Cutler attempted to return to the game, but the trainers and coaching staff thought it best he sit. He appeared to be hobbled).

Coach Lovie Smith after the game: “Jay didn’t take himself out of the game. If you’re going to attack somebody, you should be attacking me as the head football coach, and our medical staff. We’re the ones. He wanted to go back in. He was injured and went back in the second half. I see it the complete opposite of how it’s been portrayed right now.”

Indeed, after watching the game again, it was clear that the hit that caused the injury happened about halfway through the 2nd quarter. Cutler was clearly hobbling the rest of the 2nd quarter, but finished the half. He came out to start the 2nd half, went about one series, and then was replaced with backup quarterbacks Todd Collins and then Caleb Hanie.

But just minutes after Cutler came out of the game, NFL players took the opportunity to blast Cutler mercilessly…on twitter.

Maurice Jones-Drew: “Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now… When the going gets tough……..QUIT. …“All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.”

Kirk Morrison : “If my knee was hurt or acl/mcl/pcl sprain, I would not be standing up on the sideline. #jaycutler . . . Never questioned injury but Attitude & body language.”

Gerald Alexander : “I’ve never played in a playoff game. This guy was one game away and he quit! That’s BS!”

Hall of Famer Deion Sanders @DeionSanders: “Im telling u in the playoffs u must drag me off the field. All the medicine in pro lockerooms this dude comes out! I apologize bear fans! . . . i never question a players injury but i do question a players heart.”

Former player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth: “As a guy who had 20 knee surgeries, you’d have to drag me out on a stretcher to Leave a championship game! #justsaying”

Now, lets step back for a second. Long before Sunday’s championship game, I know many people who tell me they can’t stand Jay Cutler. A typical reaction from someone I meet for the first time, and tell them I’m a Bears fan is: “Oh, the bears are cool. But I hate your quarterback.”

Ever since his days on the Broncos, Cutler has been perceived as being aloof, not caring, being a “douchebag”, called a punk, not showing enough emotion, etc etc. He is constantly ripped for having bad body language, not being friendly enough with the media, and even for not having endorsement deals.  Sportswriter Rick Reilly of ESPN.com recently referred to Cutler as one of the most hated players in the NFL.

In a league where players are getting arrested or getting into other trouble, Cutler has no baggage in that department. Rather, people seem to be really pissed off and irritated about his personality, or since they don’t know him, at least their perception of his personality. It seems like the ripping against this guy is unprecedented.

Which brings me to this psychological concept: projection.  I do not have a psychology degree, but I do like to study up on some topics, and I find the concept of projection to be pretty fascinating.

Projection occurs when a person sees “negative” qualities in a person that they themselves possess. According to some psychologists, whenever a person is convinced that the crappy qualities seen in another person have nothing to do with him or herself, a projection is mostly likely taking place. On the flip side, we also project positive qualities onto people, the same qualities we have, but probably don’t lead with enough in day-to-day life.

I do it. You do it. We all project. It happens daily and we usually don’t even realize it.

So when I first heard about the Twitter bashing on Cutler, I immediately starting thinking about this projection concept.

Deion Sanders ripping Cutler for sitting out?  Gary Davis, a Yahoo! Contributor, noted  in a Jan. 24 article that Sanders’ comments: “come from a guy who missed two seasons for turf toe…in psychology, they call that projection.”

Maurice Jones-Drew blasting Cutler? According to reports, Jones-Drew missed the final two games of the season even though the Jaguars were in the AFC postseason hunt.  (Disclaimer: I had Maurice in my fantasy league. Jones-Drew later backed off his twitter comments, a classic projection move when people realize they’ve gone a bit too far)

What about people who aren’t NFL players ripping Cutler’s personality, his body language, or what is perceived as his pouting on the sidelines?  Are these all legitimate arguments? Maybe. I’m sure we all could use some work in those areas. I’ve never met the guy. I’m willing to bet many NFL players are “douchebags” off the field. But why single out Cutler so much? He hasn’t been arrested. Is liked by his teammates. Strong arm. Gives to charities. Got sacked probably more than any other quarterback this year, and oh yeah, he has diabetes.

But maybe the negative qualities people assign to Cutler are actually the same ones they themselves have deep down inside. Maybe aloofness, arrogance, other perceptions of Cutler,  maybe these are qualities WE ALL have subconsciously, but refuse to admit or look at??  (Crap, somebody get me a shrink).

Coach Smith added after the game in regard to the Cutler bashing by players on Twitter:  “I haven’t seen it before,” Smith said. “It seems like if you were in that fraternity you would be stepping up for your fellow man, especially when you don’t know what’s going on.”

So it’s an interesting discussion to have. Perhaps you just don’t like Cutler’s play? Fine. Or you still think he’s an ass? Talk amongst yourselves.

In the meantime, I’m gonna go online and blast Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Man, I hate that guy.

About Jimmy Spencer

Jimmy Spencer has extensive experience in journalism and new media. As the founding editor of SacMidtown.com, Spencer combines his writing, reporting and editing skills to produce a "pretty good site about midtown." During the day, Spencer covers government and also covers the NBA. At night, he watches T.V. and plays on the Internet. Every now and then, he walks around his midtown neighborhood. Spencer began his professional journalism career with The Sacramento Bee, finishing his tenure with the McClatchy-owned newspaper in the new media department. Spencer moved to Connecticut where he continued his growth in new media as a writer/content producer for NBC Sports. Spencer also worked in media relations with the Sacramento River Cats, Minor League Baseball Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Spencer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University, Sacramento where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The State Hornet campus newspaper. Spencer was raised in Marin County and currently lives in Sacramento, Calif. Spencer works in the community as a high school basketball coach in the Sacramento area.


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Posted by on Jan 25 2011. Filed under 49ers/Raiders/A's/Giants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment for “Jay Cutler Bashing: A Classic Case of Projection?”

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