Report: Cutler headed to Colorado for surgery

November 23, 2011 5:06:55 AM PST
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to have surgery in Vail, Colo., Wednesday for his broken right thumb.

Cutler broke his thumb in Sunday's game at Soldier Field.

Though the Bears will not officially confirm where Cutler is having his treatment, a specialist who performs hundreds of similar hand surgeries a year will reportedly operate on Cutler.

The fall that broke Cutler's thumb was not unlike the types of spills snow boarders experience, which may be why Cutler's hand will be in the hands of a surgeon who knows the injury well.

"The surgeon performing the procedure is someone who has done nearly 200 of these operations within the last year," said Jeff Dickerson, of ESPN Chicago and ABC 7 News, who was the first to report Cutler was heading to Vail. "He works wtih a lot of X Games athletes, snow boarders, and skiers."

"It just tells me that this person who is handling his operation is probably the best in the country, nothing against the people here in Chicago but they obviously feel like his injury matches up with doctor's expertise," said Dickerson.

The world-renowned Steadman Clinic, an orthopedic surgery and sports rehab facility in Vail, won't confirm or deny that it is treating Cutler. Doctors there treated tennis star Monica Seles after she was stabbed by a deranged fan. NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant underwent surgery at Steadman the day after a sexual encounter that would lead to rape allegations.

Cutler's only comment so far on his injury came Tuesday on Twitter. "Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers," he wrote. "The support has been great. Going to get my thumb fixed and be back as soon as I possibly can."

With Cutler out, the Bears now turn to back up Caleb Hanie, whose football roots can be found in Texas where he was a standout quarter back for the Forney High School Jackrabbits.

"It's a different world, but I'm sure he'll step up. His arm strength is incredible. He used to break our hands in practice," said Chris Zmolik, former Hanie high school teammate.

This isn't the first time a playoff-contending Bears team has had to rely on a backup quarterback. In 2005, rookie Kyle Orton led the Bears to a NFC North championship. And in 1984 and '85, backup Steve Fuller won several games when Jim McMahon went down.

"The best part about Caleb Hanie in that situation is he's already been in a harder situation psychologically and that was last year...with Green Bay," said sports psychologist Dr. Neil Curran of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Other former Steadman patients include tennis great Billie Jean King, golf's Greg Norman, and hockey's Mario Lemieux. Quarterback John Elway was also treated there and afterward went on to win two Super Bowls.

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