It’s far too easy to toss around words like “toughness” and insults like “quitter” from the comfort of home, a place far removed from the physical grind of the football field. The process of public shaming is a brutal one that often ends with the subject who’s the focus of the crosshairs–whether it’s an athlete, politician, or celebrity–left with a bruised reputation and a label they don’t deserve.

Welcome to Jay Cutler’s walk of shame.

Since Cutler left the Bears eventual loss to Green Bay yesterday with a knee injury, his jerseys have been burned and urinated on in Chicago, and players and media talking heads joined the masses who are questioning his commitment and ability to perform under pressure.

Now it seems that it’s more than just Cutler with the sore knee, and there are a lot of aching joints from strong reactions that led to sweeping judgments. As is often the case, reactions in the immediate aftermath of a major loss are fuelled by raw emotion, the kind that leads to unbridled hate. Cutler reportedly suffered a torn MCL, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, and will undergo an MRI to see the severity of the injury.

The Sun-Times’ Sean Jensen elaborated on the potential damage to Cutler’s left knee, the expected recovery time, and the possibility of surgery.

The medial collateral ligament is one of the four ligaments that stabilizes the knee joint. Depending on the severity, an athlete could miss anywhere from one to six weeks, or longer.

A Grade 1 tear, which is incomplete, usually just involves pain and one to two weeks of recovery.

In a Grade 3 tear, which is complete, an athlete could have significant pain and swelling and endure instability in that knee. Surgery is not necessarily required, but the knee needs to be immobilized with a brace and crutches might be needed. It could take six weeks to heal.

We all played our part in tossing Cutler into the fire, literally and figuratively. I’ll own up to my end when I quipped that Cutler has “the toughness of Charlie Brown.”

Bears safety Chris Harris was among those who didn’t like the criticism of his quarterback. During an interview with Sirius NFL Radio Monday morning Harris pointed the finger at other key players who have missed vital games due to injury–like Tom Brady and his absence during the 2001 AFC title game–and said it’s a case of the “pot calling the kettle black.”

“It’s easy to talk a bunch of crap when you’re on your couch watching us play for a chance to go to the Super Bowl,” Harris said.  “So, I mean, it pisses me off.”

Now with 24 hours of sober thought, I think we can agree that “quitter” is an unfair label to blindly slap on a player who has repeatedly taken a pounding behind a brutal offensive line–Cutler was sacked 52 times this year to lead the NFL, 12 more times than any other quarterback–and has missed just one game in four years as a full-time starter.