There are plenty of scapegoats in the latest episode of the Tim Tebow saga in the Big Apple, but the true culprit isn't who you would expect.
You cannot blame the New York Jets players who spoke out to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Nor can you even blame Tebow himself. Instead, the brunt of this scorn should fall on Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his entire coaching staff.
If you've been on a self-imposed sports exile, Jets players (all but one anonymous) spoke to Mehta earlier this week and had pointed comments about their backup quarterback.
Some players expanded on their points and made valid arguments. Others seemed to be speaking out in favor of Mark Sanchez rather than ripping Tebow. Still, the gist of what New York players think about the media sensation can be boiled down to one quote from a defensive player: "He's terrible."
Believe me, I'm no apologist, but these quotes reek of jealousy. These guys are jealous that Tebow, a player who they deem to be "terrible," is getting all of this attention from the ESPNs of the world.
On one hand, that jealousy is mostly warranted. Tebow doesn't deserve nearly the attention he gets in the media, both mainstream and otherwise.
And these players are allowed to have the opinion that he's a bad quarterback. It's not as if any measurements would point to him being the Peyton Manning of his generation.
Nonetheless, that isn't an opinion that teammates should go to the media with. Tebow is by all accounts a good guy, someone who loves football as much if not more than anyone else on the Jets roster. He's not Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson or Ryan Leaf.
If any of these players have a problem with Tebow's place on the roster, it should have been made clear to management or to the quarterback himself. Instead, the players spouted off their mouths to the media, taking lessons from Ryan, whose candor has been well-documented.
It's Ryan's loose-lipped penchant that made him a star among fans in the first place. However, it also set up a culture of enablement. Where players think every thought must be uttered or the world would crumble in its wake. And where they think there is no accountability whatsoever for pushing a teammate completely under the bus.
At this point, it's hard to see Jets players as anything except schoolchildren who have decided to bully the new kid because the girls (media) think he's cute.
That blame falls at Ryan's feet. He's the man who cultivated this circus-like atmosphere and now stands to lose his job in the offseason because of it.
Without the Super Bowl guarantees and other false bravado, upper management would see this team for what it truly is: An extremely flawed squad that doesn't have the talent to compete for a playoff spot.
They would also respect Ryan for the great football coach that he actually is. However, the Jets' struggles now look like the NFL's troll coach finally getting his comeuppance rather than a complete failure of general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
What's more, had Ryan taken a less brash approach and conducted himself with more professionalism, perhaps his players would do the same rather than whining in the media about a backup quarterback.
The players' focus may have been on Tebow, but their thoughts are an indictment of Ryan alone.