Remember when Jay Cutler got injured in the NFC Championship Game and everyone freaked out about him being tough? That was a big story in 2010. It's still -- for whatever reason -- kind of important.
Probably because it gets fans riled up. But that doesn't excuse FOX Sports creating fake newspaper headlines on Sunday to run as an on-screen graphic.
Per Jim Romenesko of Poynter, Fox announcer Daryl Johnston told viewers that "these are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago" as the following "newspaper clips" rolled across the screen:
- Cutler Leaves With Injury
- Cutler Lacks Courage
- Cutler's No Leader
And guess what? They found no such headlines. So they asked FOX Sports about it, and FOX admitted that such newspaper headlines never existed.
"The wrong word was used,” said Dan Bell, Fox Sports spokesman. "Our attempt was to capture the overall sentiment nationwide following that game."
"It was misleading."
As Gregg Rosenthall points out at PFT, "misleading" is a bit of an understatement -- it's just, um, "lying." Or, at the very least, "purposely distorting the clear-cut truth."
The reality is that most Chicago-area papers defended Cutler following the NFC Championship Game -- it was NFL players (like, say Maurice Jones-Drew) who ripped Cutler publicly. Fox didn't have to look that hard to figure out a way to stir up some controversy with Bears fans.
And yet they did anyway, continuing an outstanding year for Rupert Murdoch-owned media properties.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.