Tim Tebow won't get mad if you call him a bad quarterback. But call him a bad teammate, and that draws his ire.
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Concerned about preserving his squeaky-clean reputation as a team player, Tebow lashed out at critics Wednesday, insisting he never told coach Rex Ryan he wanted out of the New York Jets' Wildcat package.
Tebow said he was so upset with the perception he quit on the team that it dampened his Christmas.
"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," he said. "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."
The controversy began Sunday night, when ESPNNewYork.com first reported that Tebow was so upset at being passed over for the starting quarterback job that he didn't want to be used as a situational player in the Wildcat.
Tebow confirmed he was miffed that Greg McElroy was named to replace Mark Sanchez as the Jets' starter. He expressed that sentiment in what sources called a heated discussion with Ryan. Tebow also admitted he told Ryan he was unhappy in his role in the Wildcat -- but claimed he never asked out of the 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.
"That's what's disappointing, people saying, 'You quit' or, 'You didn't do this.' That was not it at all. It was me asking to get an opportunity to play the position I love, which is quarterback. It wasn't me asking out of anything."
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