Chicago Tribune
During the Sept. 11 Bears-Falcons season opener, Fox Sports flashed three newspaper headlines across the screen:

Cutler Leaves With Injury
Cutler Lacks Courage
Cutler's No Leader

Announcer Daryl Johnston told viewers that "these are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago"; the Tribune sports staff didn't buy it and started an investigation.

We searched throughout Illinois newspapers for those headlines -- Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily Herald, every other paper in the state. What did we find?

Nothing.

In fact, we could not find any such headlines in any newspaper in the United States.

So, we called Fox to get an explanation.

Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell acknowledged to the Tribune that the headlines shown were fabrications. "It was misleading," he admitted. (Because the Chicago Tribune graphic is hard to read, I've posted the entire story after the jump.)

FOX SPORTS: "MISLEADING"

During the fourth quarter of the Bears-Falcons season opener, Fox turned its attention to Jay Cutler. Announcers Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston -- known as "Moose" during his playing days -- addressed Cutler's injury in the NFC championship game against Green Bay, including questions and criticism that arose concerning the nature of his injury and his toughness. The broadcast then flashed three "newspaper" headlines across the screen:

Cutler Leaves With Injury
Cutler Lacks Courage
Cutler's No Leader

For good measure, Johnson said on air: "These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago."

The whole production rang false to us. The headlines didn't look real. The language used in them was off. And since we know that most Chicago media had defended Cutler, we looked into it. We searched throughout Illinois newspapers for those headlines -- Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily Herald, every other paper in the state. What did we find?

Nothing.

In fact, we could not find any such headlines in any newspaper in the United States.

So, we called Fox to get an explanation. Finally, late Friday, they called back.

"The wrong word was used," said Dan Bell, Fox Sports spokesman. "Our attempt was to capture the overall sentiment nationwide following that game."

That "sentiment" and the harshest criticism of Cutler came largely from fellow NFL players. If Fox had taken no more than a half hour to do a little research, they would have found Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew's tweet that questioned Cutler's toughness: "All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee ... I played the whole season on one." Fox Sport has a lucrative deal with the NFL. Perhaps they decided it was easier to pin the criticism on some fictitious newspaper headlines. Or maybe that's just our "sentiment."

Bell acknowledged that the "headlines" shown were fabrications. "It was misleading," he said.

Thanks, Fox. You can use this headline for today's Bears-Saints game. It's all yours.