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Friday, January 28, 2011
BBAO: The never-ending (Jay Cutler) story

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Most of us keep waiting for the Jay Cutler story to blow over. Thursday's news event -- TMZ.com shot video of him walking and shopping with his girlfriend -- suggested we could be in for the long haul.

Two ESPN.com national columnists weighed in during the past 24 hours.

Gene Wojciechowski writes that Cutler has become a sympathetic figure: "But in four bizarre days, Cutler has gone from aloof, underachieving quarterback to accused quitter to owner of a partially torn MCL to -- wait for it -- heroic victim of a post-NFC Championship Game smear campaign."

Michael Wilbon, meanwhile, is trying to figure out exactly how much staying power this story will have: "Maybe, on the other hand, the Bears themselves are just fine with Cutler's personality, and they, like many of us, think he can come back on a sound knee after an offseason of work on footwork/fundamentals and take them one step further, which would likely stop the questions about his toughness and his personality. But if he doesn't, and if members of his own fraternity continue to publicly question his courage and whether he'll do whatever necessary to win, whether or not Bears fans think it's warranted, the referendum on Cutler and his worthiness will be up for discussion long after this Super Bowl is over."

Honestly, I think the next true step is hearing from Cutler. He spoke briefly after Sunday's game but issued a quick no comment when informed that other NFL players were criticizing his early departure. But how Cutler handles the controversy, both publicly and privately, will play the biggest role in determining its long-term direction.

Continuing around the NFC North: