One thing about fans is we’re definitely the forgiving type. As long as my guys hit with runners in scoring position, they could lie, cheat and steal all they want. We don’t care how many women you impregnate or how much time you spend at the blackjack table the night before a big game; hit free throws down the stretch and we’ll call you misunderstood. That’s what gives guys like Michael Vick hope. I mean Ray Lewis murdered PEOPLE and still made the cover of Madden.
But there’s one group of players we just refuse to support. They can be great men, good fathers, standup citizens, but we’ll still trash them whenever we call into The Big Show with Cowboy Billy Barnes and his sidekick Rex. Of course, I’m talking about the over-sensitive guys, the ones who read everything written about them, find out about every trade rumor and immediately go in the tank.
We’ve seen some great talents fade into obscurity because they were unable to handle the pressures that come with being famous – think Ryan Leaf. We’ve also watched players like Donovan McNabb, a borderline Hall of Famer, whose thin-skin has never quite allowed him to win over the hostile fans of Philadelphia. Now you can add two more athletes to the endless list of celebrities who simply cannot get past the opinions of others: Greg Oden of the Portland Trailblazers and Jay Cutler of the Denver Broncos.
This week, Oden and Cutler showed us signs that they might be a little too fragile to handle the public spotlight. Oden, the top pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, told The Oregonian he feels like he can’t do anything right and doesn’t like the way he’s been portrayed. The oft-injured big man has watched Kevin Durant, the second pick in 2007, blossom into a top ten player while he has drawn the comparison to one of the league’s all-time busts – Sam Bowie. Cutler meanwhile, hasn’t been able to get over the rumor that he would be traded this off-season and has now suggested that he may skip upcoming workouts.
These guys have to be driving fans in Portland and Denver out of their minds, which says a lot considering they rooted for the Jailblazers and Bill Romanowski, respectively. Oden has been considered a gentle giant, but with that comes the idea that he’s soft. And who could argue? This is a guy who can chip a bone reaching for a bag of chips. When you’ve never proved yourself as anything but brittle, you can’t complain to the media that you’re being portrayed in the wrong way.
Cutler, on the other hand, is over-confident in his ability yet too weak to take any criticism. He’s the kid on your little league team who was told by his father that he is the star, yet can’t handle being brought back to earth. It’s almost like Stephon Marbury. He believes he’s the franchise when he’s really just an average member of the team.
One is no better off than the other. This week, both Oden and Cutler proved they can’t handle what others think about them. What makes it worse is that the media isn’t wrong about Oden being soft and the Broncos aren’t wrong for discussing Cutler’s future with the franchise.
The guys can’t even handle the truth.
Who knows what’ll happen when everything else gets thrown at them.