A few days before the NFL Draft, the Monsters of the Midway invite the Windy City media to Halas Hall for an opportunity to discuss the organization's strategy heading into one of the most important weekends on their calendar.
Granted, general manager Jerry Angelo and Co. blow a lot of smoke at the annual luncheon in an effort to deceive the other 31 teams in the league as to which players they like and don't like, but there is still good information to be uncovered provided you ask the proper questions. While I would be foolish to predict with any degree of certainty which prospect the Bears will now select at No. 49 overall in Round 2, I do feel as if I have a clearer understanding what the decision makers have prioritized and how they'll go about solidifying the 53-man roster. Just like you did in geometry class, use deductive reasoning to make your best guess and go from there.
What did I take away from the press conference with Angelo and director of college scouting Greg Gabriel? Drafting a receiver on Day 1 is not a foregone conclusion, there isn't enough ammo left to trade up, and medical reports will be taken much more seriously this time around – those were the highlights for me.
What did the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times take away from the very same press conference? Jay Cutler may have a drinking problem.
Near the end of the meeting, Angelo was asked about a compromising photograph taken of Cutler shortly after he arrived from Denver with that big bow on his head. The franchise passer was seen carousing with tight end Greg Olsen – and some lady friends, as you might expect – tipping back a few cocktails at one of the hotspots in the trendy River North neighborhood. Cutler is just shy of his 26th birthday, already a millionaire many times over, and freshly anointed as the savoir of a football-starved town, so who could blame him for soaking up a little of his exponentially-increasing celebrity during the offseason?
Apparently, dropping a ceremonial puck at the first Blackhawks playoff game in seven years and throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field is a bad idea, despite almost six months before he actually suits up for the Bears in a game that means anything.
"When we did our research," Angelo said when asked about Cutler's affinity for enjoying an adult beverage from time to time, "we know he goes out. We know he does those things. We talked to our medical people. We talked to the Denver medical people. It comes with the territory. We're comfortable with it. I really can't answer it beyond that."
And Angelo shouldn't have to answer it beyond that. The last time I checked, the legal drinking age in Illinois is 21. And the last time I checked, Cook is not a dry county. If Cutler had gotten into a brawl that resulted in the shooting death of his bodyguard, like Tank Johnson did, then Angelo would have to answer it beyond that. Or if Cutler had fled the scene after wrecking his Lamborghini on the expressway, like Lance Briggs did, you bet Angelo would have to answer it beyond that.
But if all we're talking about is a Pro Bowl quarterback enjoying the enviable spoils that go along with being a Pro Bowl quarterback, then let's get back to the business of blocking and tackling, please.
However, that didn't stop the Trib from running "Jay Cutler's night life not an issue for Bears" on its Web site shortly after the presser came to a close. The Sun-Times went an awfully similar direction with "Cutler talk of draft: Angelo addresses QB's nightlife" atop their online Bears section.
While I readily admit it's not my place to tell established media giants like the Trib and Sun-Times how to go about the business of covering professional sports teams, I firmly believe this is one of the reasons why so many people aren't interested in reading daily newspapers anymore. Yes, the popularity of tabloid magazines is off the charts these days, as practically every girl at West Loop Athletic Club flips through a People or an US Weekly in zombie-like fashion on the elliptical machine. But football fans – well, the overwhelming majority of true football fans – aren't interested in how much Cutler was drinking, where he was drinking, and with whom he was drinking unless it directly led to a Bears loss against Green Bay.
Nevertheless, both major newspapers practically threw away all of Angelo's talk about which pass catchers he likes, the club's new philosophy for evaluating offensive linemen, and where you can find quality safeties.
"I'm not going to micro-manage a person," Angelo said when asked if he needs to keep one eye on Cutler's evening activities. "If we have to do that, that's not a good sign. Some lessons, they have to see and learn for themselves. I don't think that's a big thing at this point. It's what he does on Sunday is how we're going to evaluate him. That's the bottom line. He gets it."
Do the heads at Halas Hall have a minor concern on their hands, especially since Cutler is a known diabetic? Perhaps, but only if images like the one in the body of this column turn out to be a regular occurrence. Remember, it was the last player under center for the Bears, Kyle Orton, who spent a lot of time with a gentleman named Jack Daniel's – the Internet has some photos to prove it – earlier in his career, yet he grew up, learned from his mistakes, and was ultimately voted a team captain.
There is no reason to suggest that Cutler's social life is any different now than it was last season in Mile High, where he threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also no doubt threw back his share of Jager bombs and allowed himself to be chased by a few adoring women, yet he still remains the gem of a QB draft class that included Matt Leinart, who is currently riding the pine behind Kurt Warner, and Vince Young, who is presently second banana to Kerry Collins. If Cutler can lead the Midway Monsters to a Super Bowl title just like another notorious wild man, Jim McMahon, Bears fans won't care what he does on Saturday night provided he gets the job done on Sunday afternoon.
Maybe the Trib and Sun-Times do, but I certainly don't care what Miley Cyrus wore to the Kids Choice Awards or where Zac Efron bought a latte last week.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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