Jay Cutler will technically play on the road Sunday when the Chicago Bears face the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn., but the game will also be something of a homecoming for the former Vanderbilt star, writes Melissa Isaacson for ESPN Chicago.
Cutler, who keeps his offseason home in Nashville, is still considered "a legend" by Commodores fans, ex-Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson told Isaacson. A three-year captain at Vandy, Cutler was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 and led the school to its first victory over Tennessee in Knoxville since 1975.
But Vanderbilt finished just 5-6 that season and Cutler ultimately fell short of his goal to lead the Commodores to their first bowl berth in 22 years. Still, many considered it a natural fit for the Titans to select Cutler with the No. 3 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. They instead selected Texas star Vince Young in a decision that is still discussed by fans in Nashville.
Those close to Cutler believe the quarterback carries a constant chip on his shoulder from his years at Vanderbilt. It's one that he'll bring with him to L.P. Field and the town he still considers home, and that still views him as a local hero.