Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has faced monstrous defensive linemen and skilled pass defenders, gone through disappointing seasons, and traversed the inevitable NFL churn through two different teams and a revolving cast of characters. So, with all that said, it's a safe bet that Cutler was never going to let Type 1 Diabetes get in the way of his dreams. And he's become a role model for kids living with that same condition.
"It's hard enough as a kid these days to feel normal and just try to fit in." Cutler told Yahoo! Sports. "To be a diabetic is just a dramatic thing to go through."
Cutler, selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, actually played two years in the NFL, his entire college career at Vanderbilt, and his time at Heritage Hills High School in Indiana without knowing that he was diabetic -- he was diagnosed before the 2008 NFL season.
"I think the first thing is, 'Why me? What did I do to deserve this?' You start to feel sorry for yourself," Cutler said of his thoughts when he was diagnosed. "Once you get over that, and you realize it's just something you have to deal with, you just have to be on it each and every day."
The physical demands of the quarterback position at the NFL level are stringent enough, but when you're diabetic? For Cutler, it means that he has to take extra care in maintaining his health. Cutler now has a medical regimen he addressed every day, and gamedays are no exception.
"Because I don't produce insulin, I have to put insulin into my body, which means that I have a pen with a needle on it. I have it with me. You have to stick it in your thigh, or your arm -- a lot of different spots you can put it."
Cutler also has to be more disciplined in his dietary habits.
"You eat as many vegetables as you can, and try to cut your carbs and your sugar. That's going to make the job of being a diabetic so much easier."
That's a good way to put it, and to think of it -- being a diabetic is a job, which means that Cutler has added that position to that of NFL quarterback -- one of the most demanding jobs in all of sports. Since his diagnosis, Cutler has been very interested in helping others, and the Jay Cutler Foundation had a particular focus on kids with Type 1 Diabetes.
"When I found out that Type 1 mostly involves kids, that was an easy choice for me," Cutler said. "Just talking to them one-on-one, and giving them someone to relate to who has the same disease they have -- that's important."
The main thing, Cutler said, is to communicate to kids that a condition shouldn't stand in the way of their dreams.
"It doesn't have to change your goals or your aspirations of what you want to do, or who you want to be in the future. It's just a little speed bump that you'll get through, and you just have to manage it each and every day."
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