|12-19-2008, 05:01 AM||#1|
highly touted recruit
Join Date: Mar 2006
Good Article about Jay and Santa Claus
Cutler's hometown Santaland diaries
By Woody Paige
It's a big week in Santa Claus, Ind.
But not just because of that.
Santa Claus' favorite elf has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl, and he could lead his team to an NFL division title Sunday.
Ho. Ho. Ho.
"Half of me is ecstatic. The other half wasn't surprised a'tall," says Jay Burch, the athletic director at the high school in Kringleville. "I always figured great things would happen after he grew into his britches."
Jay is talking about the other Jay.
When Burch arrived in the tiny holiday town on the Indiana-Kentucky border in 2000, he began studying tapes of the team's games the previous season.
"There was this scrawny little kid at quarterback, and, anyway, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to him until the first game. He returned a couple of kicks for touchdowns, played every down and threw a bunch of touchdown passes, and we were ahead 60-something to nothing, and I turned to somebody and said: 'Oh, my gosh. Jay Cutler is going to be something very special.' "
Was it because they shared the same first name?
"I hadn't even thought of that until you brought it up," Burch said by phone from his office at Heritage Hills High School on Thursday. "No, we have a pretty small school (730 students), and Jay was a three-sport athlete. He dunked 15, 20 times in basketball, and he was a great switch-hitting shortstop who could have been a major-league baseball player. He had all the talent in the world, and he had a confidence I hadn't seen since I played college ball with Steve Finley (who spent 19 years in the majors)."
The young Cutler had agreed — sight unseen — to a football scholarship at the University of Illinois and coach Ron Turner.
"When Jay went for his official visit, the coach told him they were rescinding the offer because they had some hot-shot quarterback from California. It was so late nobody else was interested, so I decided to help. Jack (Cutler, Jay's father) and I put together a tape, and I called everybody I could think of. All the scouting services and the major universities were only interested in the same guys. Made me want to throw up."
Heritage Hills went undefeated, but college recruiters didn't see Cutler at his best in the championship game. Cutler had sprained his ankle in the state semifinal and was questionable for the championship game against a powerhouse in Indianapolis. Think "Hoosiers" in football. Cutler played, but threw three interceptions. In overtime, he lateraled to a halfback, who passed back across the field to Cutler for the winning 12-yard touchdown pass.
Vanderbilt was the only Division I school willing to take a chance on Cutler as a quarterback.
"Jack wasn't too thrilled because, well, Vandy didn't have much of a football program, but I thought it would be good for Jay to play right away and develop his skills," Burch said. "He struggled for a couple of years, but it made him a terrific college quarterback."
Coming into the NFL, Cutler was passed over again, by 10 teams, including the franchise that played in Vanderbilt's home city, Nashville. The Titans took Vince Young No. 3 overall, and the Arizona Cardinals picked Matt Leinart 10th. Mike Shanahan traded up to acquire Cutler with the 11th choice.
"Shanahan is a very wise man," Burch said. "I wonder if Ron Turner now would have wanted Jay at Illinois and in Chicago."
Turner, fired by Illinois in 2004, is the offensive coordinator of the Bears.
Burch read in the local newspaper this week about Cutler being named to the Pro Bowl and was thrilled.
"I know Jay doesn't play football for the money or the Pro Bowls. All that matters is winning the Super Bowl. People get the wrong idea about Jay because he doesn't particularly like to do interviews and doesn't dress up or act like somebody he's not," Burch said. "They don't understand that he's just a kid from a small town in southern Indiana, and he's got a passion for playing football. I laughed out loud when I saw that thing about Jay saying he had a stronger arm than Elway. It's the same confidence he had when I first met him.
"I remember he threw an interception, and his coach, Bob Clayton, a taskmaster, chewed him out on the sideline, and it didn't faze Jay. He knew he'd come back and throw a touchdown on the next possession. A few weeks ago I saw him throw an interception against the Jets, and he knew he'd come back and win the game. That's just Jay."
Burch said the Santa Clausians are excited these days — "Christmas is a wonderful time around here" — but are facing a holiday dilemma.
"Everybody loves Jay, and he's sort of put our town on the map" — other than that — "and a lot of folks have become Broncos fans, but the Broncos could play the Colts in the first round of the playoffs, and Indiana loves the Colts. They all hope that Jay throws for a bunch of touchdowns and 400 yards, and the Colts win by one point.
"Tell Jay Santa Claus wishes him a Merry Christmas."
Last edited by chaz; 12-19-2008 at 05:05 AM..
|12-19-2008, 05:13 AM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001
People get the wrong idea about Jay because he doesn't particularly like to do interviews and doesn't dress up or act like somebody he's not," Burch said.
|12-19-2008, 09:21 AM||#3|
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: The Backside of the Internet
Jay is kinda like Larry Bird in that regard.
Except that he isnt a legend....yet. Larry Legend was a kid from a small town in Indiana too and was a prick to the media, hated doing interviews.
Must just be the ****ty culture of Indiana where people are rude to strangers.
|12-19-2008, 09:56 AM||#4|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V
Larry was a nice guy to fans. I had a teacher in high school that was a ref in the NBA, and he did quite a few Celtics games. He said Bird was big trash talker on the court and that he'd talk trash to the team's coach. Not "potty words" but stuff like "I'm going to make you take this guy out of the game" and whatnot. But I guess to fans he was pretty cool and after the game he was much more toned down.