Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jay Cutler's Knee and the Nadir of NFL Content

The biggest news in the last two days in the NFL has been that a Cardinal, a Jaguar, and a few retired players Tweeted that they questioned Jay Cutler's toughness for leaving the NFC Championship game after spraining his MCL. The media blitz continued today with news that Cutler and his disproportionately hotter GF, Kristin Cavallari, walked up some stairs when going out to dinner the night of the loss.

The news should be that the above is news. Sportscenter ran a ticker for much of the day on players' Tweets and updates on the status of the injury. But, guess what? Cutler's not playing football again until September. Whether or not he was really hurt is inconsequential. After missing WRs for three-and-a-half quarters he called it quits and the Packers won.

Regardless, all of the attention on Cutler has nothing to do with Cutler or toughness. It has to do with the fact that ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, etc. does not have two weeks of content on one football game, and mid-season hockey and NBA only matter to serious hockey and NBA fans. In reality, the sports media can dedicate at most 4 or 5 days to analyzing teams in preparation for a game.

After that Mark Schlereth's and Trent Dilfer's emphasis on the offensive line's ability to pick up rushers, and the defense's ability to tackle/ force turnovers becomes yule log DVD redundant. That's why ESPN et al normally feed 1-2 days of human interest stories before and after the 4-5 days of analysis. These stories focus primarily on the positive effect a deceased family member or high school football coach had on a player. In the end, as long as the story can tenuously be tied to overcoming adversity, it gets airtime.

So here in lies the problem. It's 14 days between games but human interest and automaton analysis can only take up 10, 11 days tops. It's too early to run Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr. draft analysis at full speed because that's what fills the February to April void. Until then we will be reminded why individual's with mole-like foresight should have time-delay Twitter feeds, and what the Hill's cast does when 'Teenage Mom 2' and 'True Life: I Used to be Fat' take up all of the MTV time slots.

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