Look out, CBS. FOX now has a new quarterback in its arsenal, too.
The network is inking former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to a broadcasting deal, according to Good Morning Football‘s Peter Schrager. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo first reported Cutler’s interest in leaving football for the broadcasting booth and added that Cutler would still be interested in playing if the opportunity to be the unquestioned starter came around. The former first-round pick is just 34.
“This got done in a hurry,” Garafolo said on Good Morning Football. “This went from flirtation with Fox to done deal in just a few hours.”
Schrager noted that Cutler would be working a three-man outfit with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis. This is by design, per Garafolo. Should a quarterback opening develop in the middle of the season, it would allow Cutler to exit broadcasting without disrupting the rhythm established by Burkhardt and Davis. Burkhardt previously worked with John Lynch, now the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.
Garafolo received the following statement from Cutler: “I don’t know if retirement is the right word; I don’t feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL. You are either forced to leave, or you lose the desire to do what’s required to keep going. I’m in between those situations at this point in my life.
“Words can’t express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me along my journey. I started playing tackle football at the age of 10 and was so lucky to have supportive parents and great coaches along the way that made my path possible. If I listed each person individually, this would quickly turn into an essay, but you know who you are and I wouldn’t be in this situation without you. So thank you.
“To my parents, my sisters, my wife and kids — thank you for putting your wants and needs on the back burner while I played a game every Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You made it all possible.
“I recently read a quote that struck a cord with me at the time. It was attributed to Henry Rollins (but with the internet these days, you can never be too sure who really said it). “I did that, I gave everything I had to give to that. Now, if I returned to that it would be repetition — it might be fun repetition, but it wouldn’t be meaningful repetition.” Thank you to everyone along the way. You made my dream come true.”
While the Tony Romo hire has dominated the broadcast news cycle for the past few weeks, this could be an under-the-radar coup for a network looking to spice up its coverage. Cutler is known as a player far less concerned with his image. Associated more with a general apathy, Cutler could provide a more honest and uncut assessment of the players and game. It feels like he’s played under half of the NFL’s current coaches and coordinators over the course of his career.
If nothing else, Cutler will give viewers a chance to see and learn more about a player who never allowed himself much time in the spotlight. Cutler, as Garafolo noted, has a higher football I.Q. than what translates to the field. Could he blend his bone-dry sense of humor with analysis to create something we haven’t seen before?
The formulaic rise of today’s NFL broadcasters could leave room for a fresh face or different voice. While the Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser experiments failed miserably on Monday Night Football, Cutler is more of a hedged bet — halfway between the unorthodox and the establishment.
Cutler will give public comments on Friday afternoon in an interview with WMVP-AM in Chicago.