Bears QB Jay Cutler heckled by fans in his return to Invesco FieldBy Pat Graham, AP
Monday, August 31, 2009
Cutler jeered in his return to Invesco Field
DENVER — Filling up at a gas station before the game, Ryan Aloi was booed. Getting food, he was jeered.
From there, the razzing only got worse for the 32-year-old fan. The taunts weren’t personal, just directed at his Chicago Bears Jay Cutler jersey.
Wearing Cutler apparel is an easy way to get under the skin of Broncos fans. The mercurial quarterback made his return to Invesco Field on Sunday night, facing his former Denver Broncos team and drawing a chorus of boos from the legion of supporters who once hailed him as the next coming of Hall of Famer John Elway.
Aloi was an easy mark for insults donning Cutler’s No. 6 Bears jersey, which was precisely his point.
“I wanted to heckle Broncos fans a little bit,” said Aloi, a Chicago fan who lives in Fort Collins. “I bought it just for this game.”
This game has been circled on the calendar ever since the Broncos dealt Cutler to the Bears on April 2, ending a six-week feud that began when Cutler decided he didn’t want to play for rookie coach Josh McDaniels.
In exchange, the Broncos received Kyle Orton and draft picks.
To some in Denver, Cutler is viewed as a passer known as much for his petulant behavior as his big arm. One fan wore Cutler’s Broncos jersey with white tape over his name and “Crybaby” scribbled across the top. Another held a sign that read “Nothing but a Crybaby.”
In the minds of others, though, Cutler remains a franchise quarterback that McDaniels let get away — a decision that could make for a long year. Cutler completed 15-of-21 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown against his former team.
“I think (the season) is going to flop,” said Dave Gilmer, a longtime Broncos fan who attended the game from Missoula, Mont. “(McDaniels) sent away half our talent.”
The Broncos were without Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, who missed the game Sunday after he was suspended for the rest of the preseason for what McDaniels called “detrimental” conduct. Like Cutler, Marshall asked to be traded. His request so far has been denied.
Showing up in a Cutler Bears uniform, Jeran Dahlquist of Boise, Idaho, expected to be teased. Maybe it was his intimidating blond Mohawk, but Dahlquist was left largely alone.
Dahlquist said the Bears acquiring Cutler was a day he’ll never forget.
“I was home sick, laying in bed, writhing in pain,” Dahlquist said. “Then I got the news. I flew up out of bed, danced around the room and was screaming. I’m so stoked to have him.”
Andy Schieltz is reserving judgment. That’s why the longtime Chicago fan opted for a Lance Briggs jersey at a Bears tailgating party outside of the stadium.
“He has to prove himself,” said Schieltz, who was born in Chicago and now lives in Parker.
How does Cutler go about that?
“Win the NFC North,” Schieltz said.
In the days leading up to the game, Cutler said he expected a rude reception.
He received just that from the fans he recently dissed. Cutler said during a radio interview in training camp that Broncos fans rated a six and the Bears were a nine on a scale of one to 10. He later clarified his remarks, saying he was referring to the crowds at training camp practices.
Still, the fans hooted and hissed Cutler at every opportunity.
Some Broncos supporters, though, vowed to remain loyal to Cutler no matter what. Frank Wheeler, a software engineer from Parker, wore Cutler’s Broncos jersey over a Bears T-shirt.
“I’ll remain a Cutler fan even though he’s no longer with the Broncos,” Wheeler said. “He’s not afraid to take a little bit of a risk. He’ll throw in tight situations where a lot of other quarterbacks won’t. That’s a trait that’s admirable. I almost want to say it goes back to the immortal Elway days, just not quite as spectacular.”
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