Cutler's toughness never an issue in Denver

January, 24, 2011
1/24/11
2:58
PM ET
An AFC West alumnus is at the center of a league-wide controversy once again.

On what was supposed to be a career-day for Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, and further proof that the Denver Broncos made a mistake by trading him, the five-year veteran was instead criticized by players around the league. They questioned his toughness after he failed to return to a the NFC Championship Game following a knee injury.

This has been a white-hot topic in the hours since. Is Cutler not a tough player as some players around the NFL have suggested?

There was nothing during Cutler’s tenure in Denver to suggest that he was not tough. In fact, his Denver teammates often noted his ability to take a hit and keep on going. Once he became Denver’s starting quarterback late in his rookie season in 2006, Cutler started 37 straight games before he was traded.

Cutler’s durability was illustrated in a game at Detroit in 2007. He was taken off the field on a cart after his leg was twisted in a mess and he did not return to the game. But he did play the following week even though it had looked like he would miss an extended amount of time.

While he didn’t show any toughness issues in Denver, Cutler will likely be remembered for leaving a conference championship game. There is also in an intriguing twist of irony, that Cutler is being compared unfavorably to former AFC West nemesis Philip Rivers. Rivers is revered for playing the 2007 AFC championship game after tearing his ACL in his knee the week before.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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