Part of fandom is passion; you don't sit through 17-65 seasons without passion for your team, nor do you shell out thousands of dollars for tickets and gear or commit thousands of hours in time to a brand without caring deeply about that which you follow. Passion is often the enemy of prudence. Passionate people feel very visceral emotions, and often cannot explain or squelch them.
When Jay Cutler ended the Bears' Super Bowl bid early Sunday night by sitting with what has been determined to be a torn MCL, fans and analysts alike raged. There's no need for me to go into specifics; Cutler was injured, but remained on the sidelines, walking around without crutches, wearing a parka, riding a stationary bike, looking like he always does. But the reaction -- just brutal. Jay Cutler is a quitter, because he didn't try to compete on a torn MCL.
Being a sicko Kings fan, I immediately thought of Kevin Martin.
Of course, the NFC Championship Game coincided with my weekly Kevin Martin ritual, in which I shove a lit Roman Candle with a five-yard wick into a Hot Pocket, watch the Spurs playoff buzzer beater on repeat and do the Running Man until there's flaky puff pastry and lava-like cheese everywhere. But still, Cutler brought Martin to mind. Specifically, I thought of the Great Soft-pocalypse of 2009.
If you'll recall, Martin hurt his wrist in the fourth game of the 2009-10 season. He considered sitting out the fifth game while team doctors worked to ascertain what was wrong with Martin's wrist. Grant Napear took the airwaves to say that fans could definitely call Martin soft if he sat. Sam Amick wrote about it. Martin played, and well. After the game, it was determined Martin had a broken wrist. He missed more than two months of action. Playing on the injury almost assuredly didn't help.
Napear stuck to his guns, saying that he believes that so long as a player isn't in danger of causing more damage to himself, he should play. Rub some dirt on it, kids. And so it is with Cutler, who was pilloried all night on Sunday, and all morning, and who will still take heat in Chicago despite the MRI results. He's soft, he's a quitter. Just like Martin was soft, and a quitter.
Instead of looking like a nation of idiots when these injury results come back, can we just agree to withhold judgment on a man's toughness until we actually know something about what happened to his bones or tendons or ligaments or brain? Can we please stop pretending to be doctors just because we've watched sports for dozens of years? NBA League Pass is not a substitute for a Ph.D, bros.
The second I hear someone else talk about "how it looked," I shall scream thrice and send them a link to Spencer Hall's fantastic piece on the NFL's Moron Soap Opera.