For those who live under rocks or (for some unknown reason) do not follow professional sports (I'm joking, I'm joking), Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears football team. In Sunday's NFC Championship Game, he was injured at the end of the first half and tried to play to begin the second half. After one pass attempt, the coaching staff (at the recommendation of team doctors) pulled him from the game and sent in the 2nd string quarterback (and quickly pulled him in favor of the 3rd string quarterback, who played VERY well in a losing effort).
Within minutes some of his fellow NFL players - who are done for the season and were sitting in front of the TV - were commenting on Twitter that Cutler is soft, that he "tapped out" (an MMA term for admitting you have been beaten - you literally tap the other guy and the ref stops the fight). These quotes comes from a Fox Sports post by Nancy Gay (Cutler lacks grit in loss against Packers):
These are unfair criticisms in my opinion.
By not fighting to play when he knew he was hurt, he acted in the best interest of his team. He also may have saved his next season from being one where he was rehabbing a major reconstruction of his knee (again, this is also in the best interest of his team).
In essence, Cutler sulked on the sideline and later shed a tear when he heard about the criticisms from his fellow players (I would have, too, especially after losing a game that would have put them in the Super Bowl). If they had lost and he had played the whole game, and he was then spotted shedding a tear, no one would have said a thing. It's no wonder that his teammates are standing up so strongly in his defense. He showed himself to be a team player, not the selfish player I always thought of him.
In the end, though, having played my share of team sports (including football), I should not expect any different from NFL players than what we saw. Teams are notoriously tribal and authoritarian in their worldview. Teams become insular families - and there are strict rules of conduct, especially for men.
Cutler honored his responsibility to his team, to his family. But he is seen by his peers, some in the media, and about half of the fans, to have violated the male athlete's masculinity code.
That code needs to go the way of leather helmets.