Sometimes pure talent, or determined will, or even blind luck isn’t enough to create a successful NFL career. There’s a “tongue in cheek” saying that the football gods have to align the stars to ensure everything will fall your way, much like the mythical Greek gods controlled mankind from Mount Olympus.
Who would have ever thought that the 18-0 New England Patriots would lose to the wildcard New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII? How about the journey of the Pats starting QB Tom Brady? From an obscure 6th round backup to face of the franchise Drew Bledsoe, to potential first ballot Hall of Fame inductee.
Speaking of quarterbacks, what about the journey of the Chicago Bears’ polarizing signal caller Jay Cutler? It was Cutler who was selected by our staff with the 11th overall pick in 2006 to return the Denver Broncos back to their glory years of the late ’90’s. But the Football Gods had other ideas for both the Broncos and for Jay.
Now both find themselves in a star crossed year; Denver with a clock ticking on another sure fire Hall of Famer at QB, and Jay Cutler entering his final contracted season with the Monsters of the Midway. With the many changes brought about by GM Phil Emery in Chicago, will this be the year that Cutler brings the Bears back to the brink of a Super Bowl Championship?
Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times spoke with me about the very journey that has brought my former quarterback to this point in his career.
Former Broncos GM says Bears finally are doing right by Jay Cutler
It was time for the Denver Broncos to find the next John Elway, their next franchise quarterback. Several seasons of varied success with Brian Griese, Jake Plummer and others left them yearning for more.
The year was 2006.
Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler were the top three college quarterbacks. And although the Broncos were coming off an AFC Championship Game appearance with Plummer, their brass thought it was time to secure the next face of the franchise.
A three-way trade had moved the Broncos from 29th in the draft to 15th, and they decided they wanted to move up even more to snare a quarterback. It was a foregone conclusion the Tennessee Titans would take Young with the third pick, but the Broncos were content with Leinart or Cutler. They just had to get one of them.
After Leinart went 10th to the Arizona Cardinals, the Broncos swung a trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up to 11th. They took Cutler. ‘‘I personally was a Jay Cutler guy,’’ former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. ‘‘I liked his mobility. I liked his strength. I liked his ability to make plays off-schedule. I liked his presence in the pocket. I liked the fact that he was at Vanderbilt, which is an academic school. He was a smart guy.
‘‘I saw a guy with the tools that in our system, surrounded by guys like [then-head coach] Mike Shanahan and [then-assistant head coach]
Mike Heimerdinger, would develop and grow and be the type that we were looking for.’’
It didn’t pan out.