Let's assume the worst-case scenario: that Jay Cutler said exactly what it looked like he said as he walked off the field at halftime Sunday of the Chicago Bears' 23-22 victory over the Carolina Panthers. For the sake of this post, let's agree that Cutler profanely objected to the boos he heard from the home crowd at Soldier Field.
To which I say: So what?
Cutler has earned plenty of scrutiny in our hyper-quick and highly sensitive world of presumed decorum. Much of it has been earned. But are we now no longer able to grant Cutler the courtesy of muttering under his breath with impunity?
That's the implication of any criticism Cutler has received for this latest episode, which became a hot topic Sunday afternoon after several websites posted video or gifs and played lipreader. I get it. Some of Cutler's previous objectionable actions and attitude, for which we've hammered him on this blog, have left him with little breathing room moving forward. But I feel like any sliver he has remaining should be granted in this instance.
It would be one thing if Cutler profanely criticized fans during a postgame news conference or on his Monday afternoon radio show on ESPN 1000. He didn't. Instead, he has repeatedly said the Bears deserved to be booed based on their first-half performance.
People must own everything they say, be it in frustration or after much thought. But it's also fair to judge the words in context. It seems reasonable to expect Cutler to be grouchy and sensitive after taking six sacks in the first half against a team that is now 1-6.
He refused to be drawn into a discussion about it on the radio, which some will interpret as a passive admission that he said some things that weren't nice about the fans who booed him. For the record, here is what he said when pressed: "Is this court? Are we in court right now? Are you a judge and jury? … I'm not going to get involved in that. I can't control these things, what websites say. We should have been booed. Rightfully so, we got booed. We've got to get better and that's that."
Over time, Jay Cutler has given us plenty of real and legitimate reasons to question his leadership and on-field personality. We don't need to lipread and interpret under-the-breath mutterings to find more.