Normally calm and reserved, Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith again sounded off Tuesday on persistent speculation over quarterback Jay Cutler's injury during January's NFC Championship Game loss to the Green Bay Packers.
"I don't think any player should have to go through that because it wasn't warranted at all," Smith told The Chicago Sun-Times at the NFL Annual Meeting in New Orleans. "He was injured; he couldn't play. It's an insult for us to answer the questions on whether he's tough."
Cutler left the game after one second-half series because of a Grade II sprain of a knee ligament. That Cutler left the game under his own power helped spark the following firestorm of pundits and fans questioning the quarterback's toughness.
Smith would have none of it Tuesday, pointing to the NFL-high 52 sacks Cutler absorbed and that the quarterback tried to return to the game after halftime.
"In the old days of football, I was told you never laid down on the football field," Smith said. "If you can walk off, don't let the opponent see that you're injured. So when you're a legitimate tough guy, you know what you do? When you're hurt, you find a way to walk off, not letting anyone see that you're hurt."
Smith said Cutler did that.
But Smith wasn't finished, taking issue with the Fox network for their portrayal of Cutler during the NFC title game and wondering why injured Packers stars Charles Woodson and Donald Driver weren't held to the same standard during the Super Bowl.
"To me, for the network to choose those pictures, it's wrong, too," Smith said. "On the sideline, you can portray a player whatever way you like. You can look at any player that's injured and pick a snapshot of him, and he's not going to be (excited or animated).
"(Woodson) walked off, and he was standing on the sideline," Smith said. "Donald Driver walked off, and he stood on the sideline. But we're not questioning them."