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National Columnist

Tebow deserves respect, not scorn, for sticking up for himself

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Let's assume the worst, that the latest batch of anonymous sources to savage Tim Tebow are telling the truth. Let's assume that Tebow did stage a mutiny when he told Jets coach Rex Ryan he wouldn't play in the wildcat package Sunday against San Diego, a game the Jets lost 27-17.

So?

Sorry. Not expansive enough. Let's try that one more time, again assuming that Tebow really did tell Ryan he wouldn't play in the wildcat against the Chargers.

So what?

More reactions come to mind, too. Like this: Good. Also: Well done.

And furthermore: It's about time.

Of course, people are crushing Tebow for doing it. Anonymous sources scuttled to the New York media to rat him out. Sportswriters are tsk-tsking Tebow, even one of my favorites here. And fans are just hammering him on message boards, like the one below my story on Tebow on Monday, when I said Tebow deserves better than to be used like a circus act next season by the Jaguars.

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Tebow also deserves better than to have his career sabotaged this season by the Jets.

The Jets acquired Tebow because their owner wanted him, but the coach didn't -- and Rex Ryan runs the team. So he kept Tebow out of the picture at quarterback, even as Mark Sanchez stunk and Greg McElroy wasn't much better and the team was terrible and really, what could it hurt to play the quarterback the Jets acquired in the offseason for two draft choices and a small fortune?

Tebow didn't have to be with the Jets this season, either. See, the Jets weren't the only team that wanted him after that bizarre, magical season of 2011 when Tebow played poorly and still guided the Broncos to the playoffs, where he threw for 316 yards against the Steelers to win a first-round game.

Even so, the Broncos wanted no part of Tebow as their long-term quarterback, and that's fine. You don't see me ripping the Broncos for that. They didn't want Tebow, so they acquired Peyton Manning and put Tebow on the trading block.

The Jets and Jaguars made offers, and the Broncos did the classiest thing imaginable -- they left it up to Tebow. They told him the Jets wanted him, and the Jaguars wanted him, and that he could choose. So Tebow chose the Jets.

Never dreaming that Rex Ryan wasn't going to play him, no matter what.

But that's what happened. Ryan didn't like having Tebow shoved down his throat like a size-19 shoe, so he refused to play him. Not in a meaningful way, anyway. This wasn't about Tebow; it was about Rex Ryan sticking it to Jets management: Force a player on me? I'll show you.

Tebow was a pawn, and finally -- assuming he did in fact refuse to run the wildcat on Sunday -- he realized it. Days earlier, Ryan had completely laid bare his "no Tebow, no matter what" stance when he benched Sanchez and replaced him with McElroy. The team already had been eliminated from playoff contention. McElroy had done nothing to deserve this shot. But even then, Ryan wasn't going to play the quarterback foisted upon him by owner Woody Johnson.

So Tebow fought back. He said, fine -- you're not going to play me as the starter? Then forget about playing me at all. No wildcat for me. No nothing. Two can play at this game, Rex Ryan.

This wasn't about an employee refusing to go to work. Don't turn this into some legitimate job beef, because there's nothing legitimate about the way Ryan has treated Tebow this season. Tebow quit on his team? Nonsense. His team is already out of the postseason. There are no participation trophies in the NFL. The 53 players on roster won't get trophies and a pizza party after the season. Instead, the Jets will dump the players they don't want and bring in new ones.

It's called business. And the Jets have been giving Tebow the business all season. Now he gives it back ... and some of you people are upset with him?

Are you people nuts?

I'd kill to be in the NFL, and I'd never do what Tebow did last week.

Guess what? You're not Tebow. You didn't win a Heisman Trophy at Florida. You didn't get drafted in the first round by the Broncos. You didn't win seven of your first eight starts last season in Denver, lead the team to the playoffs, beat the Steelers. You weren't dangled as trade bait and watched as two teams nibbled at the hook. You didn't choose the Jets over your hometown Jaguars because you sensed the Jets had a legitimate desire for your services, while the Jags just wanted to move merchandise.

What happened between Tebow and Rex Ryan this season was between two people: Tebow and Rex Ryan. And if you can honestly sit there and say you wouldn't have done what Tebow did Sunday -- that you wouldn't have stuck up for yourself in the only meaningful way possible -- then keep that information to yourself.

Because that would be naïve at best, pathetic at worst.

And Tim Tebow, it turns out, is neither. After turning the other cheek all season, he finally looked Rex Ryan in the eye and said, "[Screw] you."

Good for Tebow.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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