Jay Cutler's Face Comes to Philadelphia; Hilarity and Sympathy Should Both Ensue

Jay Cutler's Face Comes to Philadelphia; Hilarity and Sympathy Should Both Ensue

I have an intense fascination with Jay Culter's mannerisms and facial expressions. And you know what? I'm not the only one. These guys seem pretty on board, too.

When Cutler was dealt from Denver to Chicago a few seasons back, I was largely apathetic about the now "embattled" quarterback. The guy was young and had a lot of hype surrounding him and seemed sort of whiny and frequently overthrew receivers and that was about it.

But I was wrong to be apathetic. There's more to Cutler than I previously assumed. A lot more. And it's in his face.

To begin, I know very little about the guy. I've never met him, never spoken with him and have seen very few quotes from him that would lead me to have any insight into his general or specific thought processes.

Still, the more I watch Cutler, the more I become convinced that he does not enjoy playing professional football. I am under that impression, because it's written all over his face.

Say what you will about the general bullshit that surrounded the "backyard enthusiasm" of Brett Favre, but there are guys in the league who outwardly evidence that they find enjoyment in their profession. Cutler doesn't appear to be one of them.

Then again, who could blame him?

He's a guy who gets the living hell beat out of him every week behind a non-existent offensive line, and then gets criticized for not being "tough enough." He's a guy with semi-other-worldly talent who just can't seem to fit it all together, and who isn't necessarily being given the tools to do it. He's a guy who looks like he's absolutely miserable, and it's because so sullen that he's draws the ire of the public.

I've never been repeatedly smacked to the ground by 300-pound pass rushers; I've never had the mantle of "The Man Whose Arm is Going to Solve a Decades-Long Passing Problem in Chicago" bestowed upon me; I've never been criticized for not playing with a torn ACL; so, I can't tell Jay to try doing all of this with a smile of his face.

But, Jay, you might want to try doing all this with a smile on your face.

Sure, I root for you, but that's because I have generally "contrarian" tendencies, legitimately sympathize with your situation and, yet, still take an outrageous amount of comedic enjoyment in your less than bemused facial expressions.

You look miserable, Jay, and to the large majority of those people who aren't myself, it's a turn off.

I'm writing all of this because there's a decent chance you're going to get carried off the field Monday night after Jason Babin shoots an imaginary arrow into the sky performs his best Hulk Hogan imitation. Personally, football will be less entertaining for me without you shaking your head, looking disgusted and waving dismissively at referees who just flagged you for intentional grounding for the second time in the last five minutes. But, as a matter of professional advice, if you want someone other than just me rooting for you, you might want to think about smiling a bit more.

That assumes, of course, you still have the ability to move your facial muscles after you—for the 9,999th time this season—pull your helmet out of the turf and stand up to get yourself some more.

Jay Cutler might just be the toughest son of bitch in the NFL today. Would someone please recognize it?

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).