When reports started circulating that Tim Tebow asked out of the Jets’ Wildcat package after being passed over for the start in the team’s game last weekend, a predictable media circus followed. Some called the NFL’s most polarizing (and yes, possibly worst) quarterback a phony while others thought he was just conducting business, but because it’s Tim Tebow, everyone had an opinion on one extreme or the other.
So, unsurprisingly, “everyone” includes Tebow himself. Speaking to reporters today, Tebow sought to clarify the situation… and defend his reputation as a team-first guy:
Tebow denies asking out of Wildcat. Says Friday convo was to reiterate he would do anything to help. #nyj
— Conor Orr (@ConorTOrr) December 26, 2012
…and that, at worst, the whole thing was a case of crossed signals:
Tim Tebow said he did not ask out of Wildcat in meeting w Rex Ryan last Tuesday, but admitted coach may have misunderstood.
— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) December 26, 2012
So what did happen? According to Tebow, he made clear he wanted to play “regular quarterback” and that he was tired of just being called in to run up the middle all the time. On the first point, I suppose I can’t blame Tebow for wanting a shot, but as I said when Greg McElroy was named the starter instead: playing McElroy was the right move. Tebow has a prior body of work for the Jets to judge. They needed to figure out if they had anything in McElroy.
On the second point: well, yeah, based on Tebow’s rushing numbers this season, there’s a legitimate gripe to be had. 32 carries isn’t a gigantic sample size to work off, but those 32 carries Tebow had with the Jets produced just 102 yards (3.2 per carry). He averaged over five in both his seasons with the Broncos, so it’s hard not to wonder if the Jets could have used Tebow better in the rare times they actually put the ball in his hands. Yeah, most of those Broncos carries came with him as the starting quarterback rather than as a change-of-pace option, but it’s not like he was much of a threat to throw as the full-time signal-caller, either.
Mostly, though, Tebow lamented the attacks on his character that arose from the asking-out-of-Wildcat reports:
“You work your whole life to build a reputation, then people try to bring you down when they don’t understand.”
To which I can only say: well, not much, because I wasn’t there. Maybe Tebow actually asked out and is trying to cover his tracks now, and maybe it was completely blown out of proportion. (For the record, regardless of whether the initial reports were accurate, Merril Hoge’s attack on him seemed a bit over-the-top to me.)
What I can say with more confidence: if, one day, everyone who talks about the NFL collectively looks back on the Tebow era, and especially the Tebow Jets era, we’ll say: man, that was kind of dumb, wasn’t it? All that attention given to a guy who attempted eight passes and ran the ball 32 times? The real question isn’t whether the attacks on Tebow were warranted – it’s why we all kept caring. Meanwhile, a shattered Tebow must pick up the pieces:
Tebow said Christmas “wasn’t the best” because of criticism he received. #nyj
— Seth Walder (@SethWalderNYDN) December 26, 2012
Getty photo, by Rich Schultz