Bulls guard Derrick Rose is letting down his teammates by not playing this… (Scott Strazzante/Tribune )
Derrick Rose and Jay Cutler are so different that it's actually funny to me to imagine them together. I imagine their conversation as follows:
(Jay makes uncomfortable sad faces while Derrick stares at the ceiling eating Skittles).
End of conversation.
But their knee injuries have given them something in common. While Cutler's decision to not re-enter the NFC championship game wasn't up to him, Rose has been reportedly cleared to return a month ago and faces no greater risk for re-injury than at any point in his career.
If you questioned Cutler's toughness, you should do the same for Rose. Frankly, what Rose is doing is worse.
Rose says he's not "mentally ready." Which is basically the real-life equivalent of "I choose not to run" in "Seinfeld." Rose has put himself above the team, afraid to show weakness and harm his own brand. The idea of a comeback where he drops 40 sells more sneakers than a game where he scores 12. The other players seem to support him, but deep down, how can they not wonder about Rose's thought process?
And yet we'll always love Rose more than Cutler.
Rose is basically getting a free pass because he's Derrick Rose, our Chicago kid, and we like him. And in all likelihood this lost season will end up just as a footnote (kneenote?) on his career, the same as Michael Jordan's lost 1985-86 season. Rose will be defined by the championships he wins, not by skipping the season.
Why? The hometown bit helps. Rose has never done anything to ever suggest he wasn't doing everything he could for the team. And he smiles sometimes.
But Cutler could never get away with doing what Rose is. Perhaps some of it is the football mentality of being a MAN. But if he were to demand a trade this week, the first paragraph on his time with the Bears would probably include the words "tumultuous," "injured in the NFC championship game" and "proposed via text message."
We have every right to be upset at Rose. His job is to play, for the fans, for his teammates, for, you know, the team that is paying him. But as soon as he steps on the court again, all will be forgiven. It's just too bad he wasted his teammates' great season.
Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor.
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