Things didn’t get off on the right foot when Jay Cutler first joined the Chicago Bears and he had a lot to prove to the face of the franchise, Brian Urlacher. While Cutler still has plenty of detractors, don’t count the retiring Bears legend among them. Even though Urlacher called Cutler a p**sy when he first joined the team, he leaves with quite a different impression.
Urlacher has been going on the retirement radio tour over the last couple of days and I was able to catch his segment with ESPN’s Mike and Mike this morning. As they were wrapping up the interview, they asked Urlacher about the toughest player he’s played against. His answer was surprising to some:
“I played against him, and played with him, (Jay) Cutler is tough, man,” Urlacher said on “Mike & Mike In The Morning” on ESPN Radio. “I know a lot of people don’t like him, and this and that, but I played against him when he was in Denver and I played with him in Chicago, and I’d just rather play with him in Chicago. He’s a tough dude.”
While that view might be surprising to some, it’s not the first time Urlacher has come out and acknowledged the toughness of his former teammate. Rewind to just after the NFC Championship game, when the “hater-ade” was flowing and Cutler was being torched by “experts” and casual observers alike.
There was Urlacher, the ultimate teammate, sticking up for his QB:
“Jay was hurt,” the linebacker said. “I don’t question his toughness. He’s tough as hell. He’s one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn’t bitch. He doesn’t complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays his ass off every Sunday. He practices every single day. So, no, we don’t question his toughness.”
We shouldn’t be surprised. Like many of us, Urlacher has learned that you can’t judge a book by a pouty face. If you’ve watched the Bears over the last few years, you’ve seen Cutler get beaten and bruised more than anyone deserves.
Now that Urlacher is gone, was this his way of handing the keys to the C-emblazoned Cadillac to Cutler? Was his endorsement of Cutler as a “tough dude” a way to tell Bears fans that it’s time to move on from #54 and get behind #6?