Anything Happen While I Was Away?

QB Jay Cutler (Jim Prisching/Getty)

Bear Report publisher John Crist is officially a very lucky man after getting married Mar. 28 to the newly named Mrs. Bear Report. But he picked one helluva time to take the plunge considering he missed out on the biggest Chicago Bears news to come along in years. You won't believe this Jay Cutler story.

You want to know where I was, what I was doing, and how I found out about the Monsters of the Midway trading for Jay Cutler?

So here I am, in the middle of enjoying my honeymoon in beautiful Aruba with the beautiful Mrs. Crist after getting married just a few days before. We had just spent the day scuba diving along the coast, one dive in the morning near a small shipwreck about 25 feet deep and then a second dive in the afternoon to see the remains of the Antille about 55 feet deep – the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean at over 400 feet long. After that jaw-dropping experience, we took in a meat-eater's extravaganza for dinner at a casual joint called Smokey Joe's that features the best ribs on the island.

Mrs. Crist, who I assure you is a pretty sophisticated young lady, even discovered her new favorite dessert of all time: deep-dried Oreos.

We get back to Bucuti Beach, our to-die-for resort right on the ocean – big thanks to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN 1000 here in Chicago for the recommendation – after stuffing our faces to the point of being sinfully uncomfortable. Mrs. Crist mercifully crawled into bed, while I headed into the bathroom to take care of a little personal business before joining her. The calamari and shark bite appetizers proved to be too much on top of a full rack of ribs, so I grabbed a copy of the tiny Arubian newspaper that had been delivered to our room each and every morning and closed the door.

Then I saw the headline on the back page: "Bears acquire Cutler from Broncos."

Let me assure you, when the future Mrs. Crist and I started to plan our wedding, the first thing I did was pull out the NFL calendar. Nothing in February because I was going to both the Super Bowl and the Scouting Combine. March would be fine provided it was after free agency had started to cool down and we got back well before the NFL Draft. May and June would be iffy since I didn't know exactly when the media would have access for OTAs. July would work so long as we returned at least a week before training camp opened.

I didn't leave her many options to be perfectly honest, especially since the few slices of time I had free needed to line up with her dream location's availability.

The last Saturday in March looked perfect, as we could immediately leave for our honeymoon and still be back home with close to three weeks before draft weekend – arguably my busiest Saturday-and-Sunday of the entire year and a crucial time to attract new subscribers. The wedding turned out to be a smashing success and our Aruba adventure couldn't have been more amazing, that is until I read that AP story while on the throne. Mrs. Crist and I made a promise to bring no cell phones and no laptops on the trip, but news of the Cutler deal found me anyway.


QB Jay Cutler
Jim Prisching/Getty Images

Not silently watching "SportsCenter" while sipping an ice-cold Balashi at a bar. Not half-listening to Fox Sports Radio while sitting in the back of a cab. It was an Arubian newspaper that gave me the biggest Bears news in recent memory – on the back page, while a story about turtles graced the cover.

Please be aware of turtle eggs on the beach because the species is in danger. Join us for bingo Saturday evening at the Alhambra Casino. Oh yeah, and the Bears traded for Jay frickin' Cutler.

So, how do I feel about the big deal? Personally, I think the Broncos made out like bandits. While I figured new head coach Josh McDaniels and Co. would eventually come to their senses and do everything within reason to keep their rocket-armed signal caller, it appears the rift was unmendable and they got what they could for him. And they got a lot. Matt Cassel went for a second-round draft pick when he was shipped from New England to Kansas City. Cutler went for two first-rounders, a Round-3 and Round-5 flip-flop, and Kyle Orton.

Cutler is obviously much higher regarded throughout the league than Cassel, but now McDaniels has Orton, who is less than a year older than Cutler, to groom plus two more first-rounders the next two Aprils to help rebuild his defensive unit.

Cutler is also a big winner here, as his hypersensivity to trade talk eventually landed him in the Windy City and playing for the team he grew up rooting for as a kid in Santa Claus, Indiana. It's easy to look at the former Vanderbilt Commodore's career record of 17-20 and say he still hasn't proven a thing, but it's impossible to ignore the fact that he was forced to make up for a dismal defense on the other side of the ball. Throwing 18 interceptions this past season is forgivable in my eyes when your D can't stop anyone – racking up 4,526 passing yards and 25 touchdown tosses is impressive no matter the won-lost record.

Will he grow up a little bit and finally put all his talent on display in the playoffs this season? That remains to be seen.

Sure, the O-line is a question mark and the receivers scare nobody, but the Bears suddenly have instant credibility on offense with No. 6 at the controls. If Cutler can become the first passer in franchise history to eclipse the 4,000-yard mark and leads the team of his youth deep in the postseason, then the heavy price paid by general manager Jerry Angelo will have been worth it. Angelo is rolling the dice like never before, and chances are he'll ultimately be remembered as a hero or a villain based on how well Cutler does under center.

Only one thing is for certain: When Mrs. Crist and I go away for our first anniversary next year, I'm bringing my cell phone and laptop whether she likes it or not.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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