Some Former Anti-Media Athletes Sing a Different Tune Once They Get Into Sports Media

si wireSo Jay Cutler, the former quarterback of the Chicago Bears, is going to go into broadcasting. True confessions, I’m a Packer fan so when the Monsters of the Midway signed Cutler to a seven-year, $126.7 million contract in 2013, off went the champaign cork. Said differently, in my mind, there was no way Jay was going to consistently defeat the Vikings let alone the Packers in the NFC North. I publically said it was a big mistake not only because he was a 2nd or 3rd tier quarterback who committed turnovers during critical points of the game, he was often a PR nightmare.

Over the course of those 8 years with the Bears, how Jay portrayed himself on the sidelines or in a news conference did not always help his brand. How did Jay handle throwing an interception or fumbling the football? He appeared to sulk along the sidelines or show no emotion whatsoever. Look, he may be upset or angry with himself after committing a turnover but you’d never know it from his demeanor. I don’t have a magic bullet on how to act after throwing a pick but one thing is certain, how he handled things didn’t bode well for his image. Often, his press conferences were not much better. He’d regularly not show much emotion or could get combative or surly with certain members of the media.surly1

Now he’ll be working for Fox Sports. Not sure if he’ll eventually get back to the gridiron but for the time being, he’ll be part of the second Fox broadcast team along with Kevin Burkhardt. So will he become warm and fuzzy? Will he smile more often? Will he project a warmer demeanor than when he played for the Bears? A cynic may say he’ll do whatever it takes to be paid. I’ll say one more thing here, if he’s warm and fuzzy, will this further aggravate Bears’ fans who still may not know the true Jay Cutler. 

This change of image to help prepare for sports media reminds me of LaDainian Tomlinson and Sterling Sharpe. Being a Packer fan, Sterling Sharpe boycotted the media for many years in Green Bay. A fantastic player but often didn’t warm up to the media or fans. Turning to the West coast, LaDainian was often sour and contentious to the media during his playing career. When these two great players retired and needed a new gig, they turned to sports media. Did they grow up or just change their manner when the camera was on? Or both? Did they decide to change their personality in order to get hired in sports’ media?

Look, I’m not challenging the intelligence or insight of these 3 former NFL players; but I’m challenging their persona and character. Doing a complete 180, commonly not being accessible to the media and now being part of the media they once had contempt for or sometimes shunned. Having said that, I’m sure they’ll provide much insight, intelligence and entertainment to the sport’s media.

surly2I watched LaDainian on the NFL network last night and the thought continues to hang with me, his analysis is strong and insightful but often I can’t get over his past character while playing the NFL. When he shows his pearly whites on the NFL network, I realize that I’ve seen him smile more over the last year or so as opposed to this entire 11-year career with the Chargers and Jets.