The one person not to talk about on Thanksgiving

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(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

I’d like to echo what others have said about the importance of not discussing You Know Who at the Thanksgiving table. This man can turn brother against brother, sister against sister, father against son, etc. Do you really want your holiday dinner to turn into a brawl? I don’t think so.

One camp adores the guy and believes he is almost criminally misunderstood. The other camp doesn’t think he’s fit to lead a book-club discussion group.

Believe me, it would be tremendously huuuuge if you didn’t mention him Thursday.

I’m talking, of course, about Jay Cutler.

We are eight seasons into his career as Bears quarterback, and he is still the subject of fierce debate among fans. As someone who believes he is remarkably unremarkable, I still don’t quite grasp how anybody can look at him as anything other than just that. But the other side sees excellence in him, an excellence it says has been diluted by a tidal wave of factors beyond his control. There still doesn’t seem to be any in-between, which is why I’m concerned about the cutlery being used on you and your loved ones instead of on the turkey.

All of this stems from Cutler’s exasperating ways. One game he’s awful, as he was when he had four turnovers against the Buccaneers a week ago. The next he shows off his arm strength and accuracy, the way he did in a tough loss to the Giants on Sunday. Makes you think, “You know what, that old Jay isn’t so bad.’’

He’s the perpetual tease, and eight seasons in, we’re still going back and forth on him in a continuous loop of loud. Just loud. More people have come around to my way of thinking on Cutler, but there are still many who remain true to their guy. If I mention him in any way in a column, if there’s the merest suggestion he has a flaw to him, his terriers are at my ankles on social media.

Their blind loyalty amazes me. It’s like being loyal to a C+.

Since Cutler joined the Bears in 2009, he has had three head coaches and six offensive coordinators. His backers often use this as Defense No. 1: How could anyone excel amid such chaos? What these defenders conveniently forget is that Cutler has had one hand on the revolving door. Is he a coach killer? All I know is that there are a bunch of bodies with whistles around their necks stacked up like firewood at Halas Hall.

Sunday’s game once again puffed up the chests of Cutler’s supporters. Before he threw an interception on second-and-29 with one minute, 19 seconds left in the game, he was 17 of 29 for 252 yards and a touchdown. If some of his receivers hadn’t dropped what should have been easy catches, those numbers would have been even better. That’s the Jay his champions know and love. Who could hate that?

If that were his standard game, no one would hate Jay Cutler. But it’s not. Most people have gotten beyond the debate about how he carries himself on the field and about his toughness. He’s not immune to the occasional moping, but it’s not his default gait anymore. And he has played hurt as a Bear, over and over again. He apparently did Sunday, when he played through a shoulder injury that could cause him to miss some games.

But there’s no getting past his inconsistency. You could set your watch by his mercurialness. Either he’s exactly that up-and-down quarterback or by some bizarre coincidence, it’s always somebody else’s fault when he’s bad. It shouldn’t be much of a discussion anymore, but for reasons that apparently will be forever beyond me, it is.

I don’t see any way he’ll be back next season as a Bear, but I’ve said the same thing in years past. Obviously, the Cutler debate is not just a fan construct. People inside Halas Hall have had the same arguments and, for all we know, are still having them.

So the advice here to the professionals and non-professionals alike is the same: Don’t discuss Cutler on Thanksgiving. Steer clear of him as a topic. Declare it a Jay-free day. No talk of his body language, his “intangibles,’’ his passer rating, his reality show wife, vaccinations, interceptions, play-calling, decision-making and his record as a Bears starter (51-51, by the way).

Find another subject matter to consider, something nicer, something that won’t lead to a full-contact food fight involving your Aunt Mabel. The recent presidential election, perhaps.

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