Going from star and starter to the role of backup quarterback is not easy. Ask anyone that has ever played the game how much fun that is.
However, most of those backup quarterbacks are not afforded the opportunity to step out onto that playing field. Instead, a clipboard is in their hands and a headset is strapped on.
Thus the main reason why football experts and media talking heads were so miffed at the idea that New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow had reportedly opted out of helping the team as its Wildcat quarterback.
In fact, so angered were some members of the media that Merril Hoge, who has been analyzing football on ESPN since 1996, called Tebow “as fake as a three-dollar bill”.
[Watch Hoge's entire rant here]
On Wednesday, Tebow stepped up to the microphone. Like a responsible adult, he stated to the media exactly what he told — and never said to — his coach, Rex Ryan.
“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 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.”
The issue at hand is the fact that Greg McElroy was named the Jets’ starter over Tebow when the decision was made to bench flagging starter Mark Sanchez.
Tebow was listed as the team’s backup all season long, while also seeing the field as a punt protector, H-back, wide receiver, running back and tight end. Obviously, Tebow was frustrated by the decision of his coaches, but he did not air out his grievances publicly.
Rather, he met one-on-one with Ryan to discuss the issue, but now it looks like Tebow should have taken to the media. In his mind, the attacks he is having to deal with are simply out of a complete breakdown in communication between when he left his coach’s office and when word broke that Tebow would not be the team’s Wildcat quarterback on Sunday.
“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.
“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.”
Tebow continued later on the subject of who he was as a player, and as a man.
“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.”
Now that Tebow has said his piece, how will things be different in New York?
He will most likely be playing in a new city come this time next year, and so will Sanchez. As it stands, Tebow’s hometown Jacksonville Jaguars are the odds-on favorites to enlist the young man’s services.
Of course, it all may hinge upon this he-said-she-said debacle of a season with the Jets. If Tebow’s reputation has indeed been tarnished to the point where coaches might it as a risk to bring him aboard, then why would they?
Quotes from Only Gators Get Out Alive were used in this report.