By Kristian Dyer
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Oh Jets, just when we thought you weren’t a circus.
With Wednesday’s report that at least one unnamed Jets player called backup quarterback Tim Tebow “terrible,” the focus of the Jets 3-6 season has now shifted from the disappointment on the field to the pending fracture in the locker room.
This is a team, after all, that splintered apart last year to lose their last three games; a locker room that was divided and engaged in bitter finger pointing and the blame game.
Up to this point in the season, the Jets seemed more tight-knit and supportive then at any point last year, even when they started the 2011 season off in relatively strong fashion. But now this is a headache that they don’t need.
Tebow has just been quietly doing his job, putting being a teammate before himself and saying all the right things. Never once has he lobbied for the starting job even though he’s qualified to do so, and never once has he criticized some suspect play calling or his limited role. He has only ever done the right thing by his coaches and his teammates, and Wednesday’s shot at him by an unnamed source is the type of preposterous histrionics that lead afternoon radio hosts to call them “a three-ring circus.”
This is now a true circus, and it has nothing to do with the media creating this mess. The players quoted in the story have everything to do with this. They knew when they opened their mouths what they were getting themselves into.
And now they may not be able to get out.
Targeting Tebow is unfair and unjust for a player who not only has exuded class in how he has handled himself, but also has an unquestioned work ethic. Make what you will of his fundamentals and technique — which are improving — but there isn’t a harder worker on this team than Tebow. He is among the first on the field and the last off of it, and his time spent in the weight room is exemplary. Critics will say that he isn’t a quarterback right now, but to take a cowardly, unnamed shot at him is absurd.
The writer of the story shouldn’t be blamed for asking the question or writing the story, all of which falls under his job description covering the team. Those who should be blamed are the ones criticizing a teammate who is working as hard as anyone — if not harder — to help the Jets out of the muck and mire of their self-made mess of a season. Would these teammates criticize the team’s backup center or backup cornerback in such a brazen fashion?
But Tebow is now being cast by divisive members of the Jets’ locker room as the scapegoat for all their flaws and faults this year, and perhaps it is an act of self-preservation.
With starter Mark Sanchez entrenched on the team and still with four years left on his contract after this season, it is unlikely that he will be moved from the team anytime soon. Tebow, however, has more value, especially if other teams are enthralled with his performance from a season ago in Denver. He also is owed a lot less guaranteed money than Sanchez, and he could be moved out of New York far more easily. Siding with Sanchez is perhaps the safer bet in the Jets’ locker room because he’s more likely to stick around, if only by default.
But that ignores both the short-term and the long-term outlook. Right now, given Sanchez’s string of poor performances, it is far more conceivable that the Jets can win with Tebow as a starter, and labeling him as “terrible” does absolutely no good for a locker room still healing from the convulsions of last year.
Even more than that, the attacks on Tebow are cowardly and baseless. Even if they were true, they are directed at a man only trying to execute his job to the best of his ability.
In no way, at no time, should anyone ever be called out for merely doing his job as well as he can, and Tebow is a player who, no matter what you might think of him, has absolutely no quit in him. He should be commended by his teammates for maintaining this integrity and work ethic through all of the questions and criticisms of this year.
Instead, he is bashed by those lurking in the shadows, hiding behind anonymity. Perhaps if all the players — anonymous or otherwise — worked as hard as Tebow, then the Jets wouldn’t be 3-6. To bash him for doing his job is beyond comprehension.
And that is the great tragedy of this story.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and can be followed on Twitter for news, insight, snarky comments and breaking Jets news here.
We’ll likely never know, but if you had to go with your gut, who would you bet are these anonymous critics? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…