Some people need to keep their mouths shut and fingers still

January 25th, 2011 - 9:50 am

I’ve always lived by the motto, don’t speak unless spoken to. Or, keep your opinions to yourself unless you’re asked for them.

Even as I type this blog entry, I’m giving my opinion without it being requested by anyone specific. But at least through blog format, the reader can go to a different page if he or she doesn’t want to read my views.

My, how nice it would be if we could do that in person. If somebody is saying something we don’t like, how great would it be if we could use a computer mouse to close them and open up somebody else with a different opinion? Or use a TV remote to “change the channel?”

In today’s day of the Internet and social media, it’s even harder to escape criticism because everybody with an opinion can let the world know what they’re thinking in a matter of seconds. This kind of easy publication of thoughts is not only harmful to the recipient of the criticism, but it’s also dangerous to the one making the comments.

Such is the case with the many football players, past and present, who criticized Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during Sunday’s NFC Conference Championship before the details of Culter’s knee injury were revealed. The game hadn’t even ended before players were “tweeting” their two cents about Cutler’s “fake” injury.

When Cutler’s MRI revealed that he suffered a Grade II tear of the MCL, a more than significant injury that is a legitimate reason a player would be unable to complete a game, those players who criticized Cutler must have felt a bit ignorant for shooting from the hip before they had all the facts.

At least, if they had a conscience, they’d feel remorse for doubting Cutler’s toughness.

I guess what’s worse than a collection of players spouting off prematurely about Cutler’s toughness and desire is the fact that these players are in the middle of a labor dispute with the owners. They’re supposed to be one “fraternity” or “brotherhood.” Which means that the “show of unity” prior to the kickoff of Week 1′s games, in which players from each team took a few steps onto the field and held up one finger to signify that they were one union, was really just a show of crap. It was hypocritical nonsense. The only thing these players are united about is getting their grubby, greedy paws on more money.

Furthermore, aside from ill-advised comments from players, the reaction of fans and media — while it’s to be expected — was overwhelmingly critical.

Fans notoriously react based on emotions. When something good happens, they’re excited and overvalue the significance of the achievement. When something bad happens, they’re angry and overemphasize the negatives and repercussions of the event.

My faith in the intelligence of the common fan has always been teetering on a wall like Humpty Dumpty, but there was one poll that made me feel a little bit better. On ESPN.com’s SportsNation, there was a poll yesterday asking: “What is closest to the truth when it comes to criticism of Jay Cutler relating to Sunday’s game?” The choices were:

A) He’s being unfairly criticized because he’s disliked.
B) The criticism is fair and proof of why he’s disliked.
C) Any quarterback in that situation would draw similar criticism.

The correct answer is A, and fortunately that is the answer that was receiving the most votes. SportsNation gives you a chance to view the results of the poll state by state. There were four states that voted for Option B, saying the criticism of Cutler is warranted. Two of those states are Alaska and Wyoming… why, I have no idea. But the two others are Wisconsin and Colorado.

Now there’s a big surprise! Packers fans — rivals of the Bears — and Broncos fans — who still feel spurned by Cutler when he demanded a trade from the organization — think the criticism is fair. They’re thinking with their hearts, not their brains.

As for the media, if we circle back around to the first point of this column, because Internet users can get news and opinions in a matter of seconds, the media has to be the first to “get the scoop” and to present potential readers with the newest and freshest content available on the web.

It’s a noble goal, to be sure, but it’s not always the best way to conduct business. If certain media outlets want to be the first to report unbiased, breaking news, more power to them. But if they have opinions that they’d like to share, maybe they should wait until the full facts are revealed before brandishing a player as a coward who lacks toughness, especially considering that particular player is the exact opposite of that.

I often wonder how much better the world would be if more people used their brains before using their mouths and fingers.