New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow, infuriated over holiday weekend reports that “opted out” of playing the Wildcat in a conversation with head coach Rex Ryan last Tuesday, disputed those reports, stood up for himself and defended his character when he spoke with the New York media on Wednesday.
“I never said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do anything. I won’t do anything,’” explained Tebow, according to the New York Daily News. “That wasn’t the talk at all. [Ryan] knows that. And everybody on this team knows that I would never not to do something if I was asked. That’s what’s disappointing. People saying, ‘Oh, you quit.’ or ‘You didn’t do this.’ That was not it at all. It was just me asking to get an opportunity to play the position I love, which is quarterback. It wasn’t me asking out of anything.”
Tebow claims that either Ryan, or those the coach relayed the conversation to, misunderstood the message that he was trying to send, which was that he wanted to play “regular quarterback” and wanted to do more than continue “running up the middle” as he had been in the Wildcat plays called for him. As he told ESPN‘s Adam Schefter over the weekend, his frustration and disappointment was built up over the entire season and came to a head when Ryan decided to replace Mark Sanchez with third-stringer Greg McElroy. Tebow was under the impression that he, as the back-up, was in line to replace Sanchez.
A team-first player all season long who saw the field as a punt protector, H-back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end and seldom-used Wildcat player, Tebow wanted to do more than run straight into the offensive line, which was the extent of most of his plays this season. He hoped for the opportunity to see all three downs when he was substituted into the game and play real quarterback at some point during the year.
“I was definitely disappointed and frustrated and I let him know that,” he said. “Just asked for an opportunity to play quarterback. [On Friday, I told him that] I would do anything for this team like I have all year from punt to hands team to catching passes … whatever I could do. He appreciated that. He understood.”
What appears to have bothered Tebow even more than Ryan’s decision last week is how his character has been attacked by the media that jumped on the original report from ESPNNewYork.com and have been calling him everything from a quitter and saying he is as “phony as a three-dollar bill.”
“When people talk about how you play football and how much, that’s one thing,” he said. “That really doesn’t bother me. I think the only thing that’s been disappointing these last few days and frustrating is people saying, ‘Oh you quit on your team or you’re not a good teammate.’ For people to not know the situation and then start to bash your character and then say you’re a phony or you’re a fake or you’re a hypocrite, I think that’s what’s disappointing and that’s what’s frustrating.
“Your character is who you are as a man and that’s a lot more important. … I take that way more serious than I’ll ever take a football game.”
He continued, “You work your whole life to build a reputation. Then people try to bring you down when they don’t understand even what happened. It’s disappointing. You just want to express your side of the story … not just that … your character and who you are. You want people to look at what really happened, not what one person said.”
Much of that response from Tebow seems directed towards ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, who lambasted him as a player and person Monday on SportsCenter.
Hoge said Tebow is “as phony as a three-dollar bill” with this story showing “what he’s really about.” He then opined that the Jets “didn’t realize how bad Tim Tebow was” and said “he’s not really a good football player.” He also warned the Jacksonville Jaguars, reportedly Tebow’s next home, what is in store for them if they sign or trade for him.
“Jacksonville Jaguars beware. If you think you’re going to bring Tim Tebow in there to change your organization around and bring a win, bring fans in there, you’re crazy,” Hoge said. “The only way Jacksonville is going to bring their fans back is by bringing a winning organization together. He is not going to win for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s not going to do that. All he will do is set the organization back further if that is a possible feat because this organization is down as far as you can be. The last person they need is a guy like this, now that we’re starting to see even his true colors. … He has not proven he is good enough to be a starter in the National Football League. If he had shown that, the New York Jets would start him.”