'I'm the real Jay Cutler'
Bears QB's namesake has his back -- and a little advice for the embattled passer
Jay Cutler, the world's best bodybuilder, has never met Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears' beset quarterback, but he feels like he knows him.
That's because every day he receives e-mails sent to his website meant for the Bears' Cutler. And regularly at his autograph signings, he will see people in Bears jerseys and know that someone is about to be disappointed.
"Some will come up and say 'Hello,' "said the 37-year-old, four-time Mr. Olympia, "and I'll see others all confused and they'll leave."
It shouldn't be too confusing after the wayward Bears' fan catches a glimpse of the 5-foot-9, 290-pound world champion with the 34-inch waist, the 31-inch thighs and the 22-inch biceps. This Jay Cutler could be his own offensive line.
"I'm very recognizable as Jay Cutler," said the four-time Mr. Olympia. "I'm the only guy on the planet that looks like this. If I wasn't, I'd have more of a challenge as Mr. Olympia. The other Jay Cutler and I do not look alike. But these fans will see that Jay Cutler is appearing at a nutrition store and they'll miss the part that says, 'four-time Mr. Olympia.' "
It couldn't have been too much of a bargain these past 10 days to have the same name as the guy who heaved four interceptions to the same player, particularly when Jay Cutler turns up to be the butt of a Jay Leno monologue. But the "other" Jay Cutler is empathetic and, well, maybe even a little protective of his namesake.
"Everyone loves to be negative and count people out," says the uber Jay, who lives in Las Vegas but is familiar with the Bears' woes via NFL Sunday Ticket. "That's just the way society is. Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but if he didn't have the offensive line he has where he can stand in the pocket and shoot, shoot, shoot, he wouldn't be Tom Brady. And that's the problem Cutler is dealing with in Chicago. He can't use his talent, which is his arm, and his pocket is only so big. If your line can't hold people back, you can't perform.
"He's trying to make things happen, but what can you expect him to do?"
It didn't seem worth going into it. Besides, Giant Jay knows something about misconceptions.
"I weigh 280 pounds. What do you think people think when they look at me?" he said. "You hear comments. I've dealt with it since I was a teenager and bigger than everyone. 'This guy takes steroids.' I grew up working on a farm in Massachusetts. I didn't even know what steroids were."
Fresh off winning the 2010 Mr. Olympia, his second unprecedented repeat, Cutler says he does use supplements such as creatine and ephedra, which are banned in other sports, and reconciles himself to the risks involved.
"When the supplement industry is the biggest supporter of what you do, you're allowed to take these products," he said. "Of course, steroids are involved in bodybuilding and some guys are going to use them. There are drug-testing procedures and, like any tests, some people get away with it."
But the assumption that all bodybuilders take illegal steroids, he said, is "disappointing."
"When people look at the sport of bodybuilding, which is based on performance-enhancement, they assume this is what happens when you take steroids. What they don't realize is the commitment it takes day in and day out.
"When you mold your body to its top form for a lot of years, something you were always good at since you were a kid, and people say it's a chemically induced physique, it's disappointing because I work hard at what I do. We eat, sleep and train, and that's it."
You think football Jay has pressure? Bodybuilder Jay trains all year to be perfect for one two-hour session. "And you can miss it by days, hours, minutes," he says.
Or a judge can tell him it's not perfect enough. "It's crazy," he says.
While our Jay might take his girlfriend to a steak place every now and then, big Jay, when he's in training, eats five pounds of meat a day. He starts out each day with a breakfast of 20 egg whites and dry oatmeal, his first of seven meals and 5,000-6,000 calories per day, and also consumes three gallons of water.
Then he walks outside and people stare. "Honestly, people laugh when they see me," he says.
I resisted the urge to tell him that mini-Jay could no doubt relate lately.
The guy billed as the "most recognized and most personable" in professional bodybuilding is not defensive. And though he is the best in the world at what he does, he is far from aloof. Hey, he even did an interview on a Monday.
"Realistically," he says, "bodybuilding is not a sport. It's not beating someone with home runs or touchdowns. Bodybuilding is an art because you're crafting your best body. It's not about how much weight we lift. It's about carving your physique into its best form with hard work and God-given genetics."
Asked if he had any advice for the sometimes prickly Jay, nice Jay did not evade the question.
"A top professional handles the wins and losses the same," he said. "That's why I'm respected in this business, because I've won and lost and handled both the same way. He's obviously disappointed but he needs to do something about it and needs to realize that dealing with the media things are very, very important for his image."
Savvy Jay's income is laughable compared to his counterpart's, though his $1-2 million per year is as good as it gets in his sport and certainly not chump change. But you believe him when he says it's the challenge that drives him.
"It's the challenges, the obstacles, the people who said I could never be a great bodybuilder, the ones who told me I could never be Mr. Olympia or that I could never do it more than once," he said.
Though he's at the peak age for bodybuilding, he is looking to the future and a career as an actor. He just signed to do his first film, "Hercules Now,'' which he said will start shooting in 2011 and be out in 2012.
A "huge football and basketball fan," he was a talented defensive tackle at Wachusett Regional High outside Boston and grew up a New England Patriots fan, but his allegiance now is to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. He'd like to meet Cutler, the quarterback, and almost did once when football Jay was playing for the Denver Broncos and bulky Jay was contacted by people from his golf tournament and invited to play. But he was booked that weekend.
Maybe someday, he hopes. Somehow it seems our Jay would be the better for it.
"It's funny because everyone I meet asks me about Jay Cutler, the quarterback, and I always laugh about it and just say, 'I'm the real Jay Cutler.' "
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.