By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Tim Tebow thinks he might have been misunderstood.
The New York Jets backup quarterback insisted Wednesday that he never asked out of running wildcat plays last week, but acknowledged what he said to coach Rex Ryan may have been misinterpreted as such.
“I never said, ‘Hey, I don’t 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 that. I’d never not do something if I was asked, and I think that’s what’s disappointing about the whole situation, people saying, ‘You quit,’ or, ‘You didn’t do this.’ It 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.”
Ryan chose to go with third-stringer Greg McElroy over Tebow in place of the benched Mark Sanchez for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers. After hearing the news, Tebow went to Ryan to discuss the situation.
“I was definitely disappointed and frustrated,” Tebow said.
ESPN New York first reported Sunday that Tebow had asked out of the wildcat, and a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that to The Associated Press. But Tebow thinks it was a situation in which he wishes he was “more clear” when he initially spoke with Ryan.
Tebow realized that Ryan might have misinterpreted his comments when he wasn’t in wildcat packages during practice Wednesday and Thursday, and reiterated to the coach last Friday he would do anything the team asked of him.
“I just asked for an opportunity to play quarterback and he definitely understood that,” Tebow said, “and then Friday, I went up to him again and reiterated that, ‘Hey, I’ll do anything for this team like I have all year.’”
While Ryan never confirmed or denied the reports, the coach said, “If I would have asked Tim to play in anything, Tim would have gone into the game and done that.”
Tebow never played in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Chargers, as wide receiver Jeremy Kerley handled the majority of snaps in the wildcat package.
More than anything else, Tebow said, he’s most disappointed by the attacks on his character and reputation during the last few days — adding that his Christmas “wasn’t the best” because of all the talk about how he let his team down.
“When people talk about how you play football and how much, that’s one thing,” Tebow 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.”