It's time for ESPN to come out already and identify their latest "sources" questioning Tim Tebow's character.
ESPNNewYork.com reported Sunday that (according to multiple sources) the New York Jets quarterback asked out of the Wildcat. The request was apparently made because Rex Ryan chose Greg McElroy as the starter over Tebow.
Tebow is denying he asked out of the Wildcat, as he now has to defend his reputation and integrity.
So, let's start from the beginning.
The Original Story
ESPN New York's Rich Cimini and Jane McManus talked to multiple Jets sources and were told Tebow opted out of the Wildcat.
Tim Tebow was so frustrated when the starting job was conferred upon Greg McElroy early last week that he told the coaches he didn't want to be used in any Wildcat packages Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, multiple Jets sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
Tebow was disappointed and upset enough to say he didn't want to be used situationally, sources said. He told the Jets coaches this early in the week, giving Kerley time to take practice reps. Soon reports emerged speculating the backup was looking to play outside of New York next season.
So, who are these sources?
Tebow has gone on record and said he would do anything asked to help his team. The story by Cimini and McManus bring his integrity into question. If he did in fact opt out, then Tebow would have gone against his word. Thus, we have an integrity issue on our hands.
Tebow has said, while disappointed in Ryan's decision, he never opted out of the Wildcat.
In a story posted by Cimini (ironically), Tebow denied those claims.
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. 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.
Tebow said he had a meeting with Ryan and admitted it got heated at times, but that he never asked out of the Wildcat.
We now have a conundrum on our hands.
Who Are the Sources?
Right now, the integrity of Tebow is being called into question while the ESPN staffers are having their integrity called into question.
Are these "mysterious" sources really sources at all? Or are the ESPN writers taking a page from Stephen Glass?
Or, are these sources legitimately telling the writers this information when they don't have all the information themselves?
In a contest that pits Tebow's integrity versus the integrity of McManus and Cimini, the ESPN writers would be best served to reveal their sources.
By revealing their sources, their journalistic integrity will be saved. However, it will also throw certain people in the Jets organization under the bus.
So, what do they do?
What Should Have Happened
If in fact Jets players made those claims, the next thing the ESPN writers should have done is confirmed that with Ryan before publishing those claims.
Later in that same story, McManus and Cimini did have a quote from Ryan from a Monday conference call.
"I'll say this: I believe if Tim's number was called, he would've went in and played—I don't think there's any doubt about that."
So, what's the truth?
McManus and Cimini failed to do their due diligence and find out all the facts to the story before reporting them.
If it was just sour apples from certain Jets players, then that's one thing. But to bring into question the integrity of one of the highest character players in all of sports was simply wrong.
Without identifying an actual person as its source, the ESPN writers are now engaged in an integrity battle with Tebow.
I wonder who will win that one.
The ball is in now in ESPN's court.