Jay Cutler is being punished for being bad.
But it has nothing to do with his performance on the field.
The NFL has fined the Bears quarterback $20,000 for abuse of a game official. Cutler drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing with officials during the loss to Arizona on Sunday at Soldier Field. Lovie Smith talks about how the Bears are a disciplined football team, and how the rash of penalties lately--the team had 10 for 75 yards Thursday night at San Francisco--are out of the ordinary.
This marks the second consecutive season, though, that a team captain has been fined that amount by the league for that infraction. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was also fined $20,000 by the NFL last season after being penalized at Atlanta for the same thing. NFL officials are taught to be careful when penalizing players for unsportsmanlike conduct. Coaches and players can get away with saying a lot. It's not like Major League Baseball where quick-trigger umpires will boot players over the slightest thing.
Defensive tackle Tommie Harris was also fined $7,500 for punching Arizona's Deuce Lutui. The difference in the amounts of the fines gives you an idea how seriously the league believes verbally abusing the officials is.