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.”