In a classless and "terrible" move, anonymous New York Jet teammates of Tim Tebow drove their defenseless backup QB and personal punt protector into the proverbial ground by publicly and thoroughly disparaging his QB skills. But the blame for these cheap shots does not just lie with those gutless sources.
Tebowmania is also at fault.
Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News spoke to 12 Tebow-naysayers on the Jets squad, which included left guard Matt Slauson, who was the sole Tebow critic to give his teammate the dignity of going on the record and lending his name to the following assessment about the QB situation:
“It’s not even close,” Slauson said. “All the other quarterbacks know it. I have all the confidence in Mark. We don’t really have a choice.”
One starter on the defense went so far as to call Tebow "terrible."
This comes only days after John Coblin wrote a thoroughly persuasive piece for Deadspin in which he skewered ESPN for abandoning journalistic integrity while milking the seemingly interminable cash cow that is Tebowmania.
Coblin's logic is unassailable in that article, and—in good journalistic form—it is also evidence-based.
Mehta has provided us with an equally compelling set of data, which at present seems to lead to one logical conclusion: no one on the Jets believes that (barring injury) Tebow should start this year.
That is not an earth-shattering revelation. More distressingly, no one besides Slauson has enough respect for Tebow as teammate to either keep such evaluations close to their chests, or man up by matching public comments with their names in print.
I imagine those players can't even see their garrulous hardworking teammate through the thick cloud of smoke of Tebowmania. A 3-6 record has surely got them surly about all the distractions.
Still, even temporarily blinded, you've got to have a pretty craven heart to stoop that low.
So the best way that all Tebow fans (like me) can handle this unsettling news is to stop clamoring for him to start (I was never doing that but like many around the country I was very intrigued by the possibility).
There is nothing intriguing left in the story about Tebow with the Jets. Nothing.
Tebow's QB future may still potentially be bright, but his professional future in New York is not.
Fans can cheer every play he gets at QB (whether it's three or seven), but tune out from every ESPN discussion that devotes a level of attention to him which is disproportionate to the time he sees on the field (which at the moment is always).
Turn the channel from Tebowmania and make those Tebow-inspired ratings slide.
If there is anyone at ESPN who has both the power to shape programming and a semblance of fondness for Tebow the person (I'm looking at you Skip Bayless), she or he should leave Tebow alone until he has some kind of resurgence in the NFL.
If you care about Tebow the player, and/or Tim the person, it is time to boycott Tebowmania. Tim Tebow has gotten lost in that cultural storm, and he's getting heat from it that he doesn't deserve.
Whether Tebow remains a spot-duty Wildcat in the NFL, lands securely on another team's bench as a backup or one day gets another shot to start, it is now clear: nothing good for Tebow will happen with the Jets.
Free Tim Tebow from New York, and more importantly, free him from Tebowmania.