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I’ll admit it, when I saw that Jay Cutler was out of the NFC Championship Game so quickly, I was like Dude, suck it up and play. Turns out I wasn’t alone. Several NFL players were vocal, either on radio or via Twitter, about Cutler and his “level of toughness.”

Here’s a sampling:

Derrick Brooks from Tampa Bay said via Twitter, “I have to be crawling and can’t get up to come off the field.” A few minutes later, after the Bear’s third string quarterback was in, Brooks continued, “There is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart.”

Heart was the question of the day when it came to Cutler. Deion Sanders said, “I never question a player’s injury, but I do question a player’s heart.”

If Cutler had shown the least bit of pain for his MCL tear, we might feel differently. If he had shown the slightest bit of disappointment. Instead, he mentally shut down, furthering the belief that his heart was not in the game. He had a zombielike stare while watching his teammates play their butts off.

Mark Schlereth, once an NFL lineman (and now talking head on ESPN) said, “As a guy [who has had] 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on stretcher to leave a championship game.”

Finally, Maurice Jones-Drew sent out a Tweet that said, “All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one”

And yet, there were some that felt Cutler’s treatment in the Twitterverse and elsewhere was uncalled for. Some even questioned why we (fans and players) had the right to judge him.

Here’s why. Because as fans and players we dissect every inch of a game. We wonder why a coach calls a bone-headed play, why a player celebrates when his team is losing, and why teams that should be prepared for games are not.

If you’re going with the argument that fans aren’t allowed to judge because we aren’t qualified and don’t know what it’s like to put your body through what those players do, I can give you that. But what about other players? Cutler was getting called out by players as much as he was fans.

Brian Urlacher, who played his heart out in the Bears loss, defended Cutler and went as far as to say that the players who criticized him are all “jealous guys, sitting at home watching on TV.”

I’m not sure about that, but I do think they’re guys who know what’s like to be in a playoff game (or at least know that they want the opportunity to play in one) and can’t imagine the way in which Cutler left. If Cutler had had a better game, would we be easier on him? Maybe. But he didn’t, and because he didn’t seem to feel that burning desire to get back in and show the Packers what he had, he’s being judged today.