- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Popular New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow lashed out at critics who put him through the wringer last week for reportedly asking not to play in the team's Wildcat package. That brought many critics out of the woodworks, including NFL analyst Merril Hoge, who made headlines by calling Tebow a "phony."
Tebow has long been praised for his character and work ethic and didn't appreciate facing criticism in that regard for the first time in his career.
"For people to not know the situation and to bash your character and say you're a phony, you're a fake and you're a hypocrite, I think that's what's disappointing and that's what's frustrating," Tebow told reporters Wednesday. "It's a football game. That's one thing, if you're good or bad at football, but your character and integrity, that's who you are as a man. That's a lot more important. That's what's disappointing for me and frustrating because I take that way more serious than I'll ever take a football game."
Tebow denied ESPNNewYork.com's report that he asked out of the Wildcat package.
"I never said, 'Hey, I don't want to do anything or I won't do anything,' " Tebow said. "That wasn't the talk at all. He knows that and everybody on this team knows I would never not do something if I was asked.”
But this is where things get murky. Does Tebow's story really add up?
If Tebow never asked out of the Wildcat package, why did receiver Jeremy Kerley replace him last Sunday against the San Diego Chargers? Did the Jets, suddenly in Week 16, think Kerley was better at running Tebow's package than Tebow? That's unlikely. Tebow also wasn't injured and practiced all week.
The timing of Tebow not playing in the Wildcat also was conspicuous, as it lined up with the same week Tebow was bypassed for third-string quarterback Greg McElroy. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has dodged questions of about whether or not Tebow asked not to play in the Wildcat.
Tebow also told ESPN's Adam Schefter that he smoothed things over with Ryan Friday and told the Jets' coach he'd perform any role to help the team. But why would Tebow have to say that to Ryan if Tebow claims he never asked out in the first place? Something had to happen prior for Tebow to feel the need to clear the air.
If Tebow didn't tell Jets coaches he didn't want to play in the Wildcat, then Tebow or the Jets need to come forward and explain why Tebow didn't play in the Wildcat last Sunday. Tebow is shooting down reports without explaining why he didn't play in his usual role. That's not something that is hard to do.
Tebow's story appears incomplete and creates more questions than answers.