The ethos of toughness in football can be boiled down to seven words: If you can walk, you can play.
That probably had a lot to do with theof many current and former NFL players when Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler did not go back on the field after only a few plays in the second half of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.
Now, however, reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and team officials indicate those nay-sayers who doubted Cutler's toughness in the Bears' 21-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers were wrong.
It turns out, Cutler could not really walk.
Cutler had a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury to his left knee in Sunday's game, the team said. The Sun-Times called Cutler's injury a "Grade II tear, meaning it will take three to four weeks to heal."
The Bears said Cutler would have been "questionable" had the team made the Super Bowl.
Cutler underwent an MRI on Monday and was at Halas Hall, the Bears' practice facility, the Associated Press reports. He did not make himself available to the media and declined comment on the criticism after the game.
Among the many current and former players who piled on Cutler after the game was legendary former Bears coach and current ESPN analyst Mike Ditka, who said: "I can't speak for Jay Cutler. I can't speak for anybody. Myself, I would have had to have been paralyzed to come out of the game. I don't want to say that word. I would have had to be completely knocked out to come out of that football game."
Bears coach Lovie Smith tried to take some of the heat off Cutler when he told ESPN on Monday that Cutler "wanted to go back in."