Ty Montgomery talked to the media yesterday in an attempt to explain the inexplicable. In case you haven’t seen it, you can watch his response via nfl.com. While I don’t think Ty is a bad person and I certainly decry any of the threats and accusations that were made against him, when your own team-mate calls you out, and Aaron Rodgers drops the F-bomb on the sidelines…you had better have a good reason for what you did. If you don’t, you had better fess up and accept the consequences. Ty did neither of these things. While it is very hard to determine someone’s motives for doing something and I hate speaking negatively of a Packers player, here are three reasons Ty Montgomery’s excuse for taking the ball out of the endzone with 2:05 left on the clock doesn’t hold water.
1. “I don’t know if this is gonna land on the goal line…”
I can’t believe that Montgomery tried to get away with this one when the tape is out there and plainly shows he was almost a full yard deep in the end-zone when he fielded that ball. Ty says he didn’t want to leave it in the hands of the refs…which I can understand…if that was even a valid option. In the photograph, the two front red lines cross yard lines. Ty’s footis almost a yard away from the goal line and even more telling in this photo is this…look at Ty’s right knee…yes folks, that is how close we were to having Aaron Rodgers trot onto the field with 2:05 left on the clock and take this over at the 25 yard line. Ty…if you had any question whether that ball was in the end-zone or not…you certainly shouldn’t be returning kicks. I’m calling Bull.
2. “I made a split-second decision…”
Montgomery was clearly leaning into this reception long before the ball arrived, which is very good form for a kick return. The returner should step or run through the reception rather than wait for it. However in this case it betrays Ty’s intentions with the return. I’m not saying that Ty had all day to decide this but it doesn’t look split-second either. I could see if Ty was laying back as if he knew the situation and then quickly stepped in at the last second for the reception. Ty does the opposite. He sets up as the ball is in the air, steps through the return, and brings the ball out from one yard deep. This is a textbook return…accept for the situation. This from the Stanford grad who in an earlier season and a much more difficult situation knew to step out of bounds and tag a ball in the field of play to draw a flag. I’m not buying that one.
3. I he hadn’t fumbled “I don’t think we would be having this conversation”
Wrong Ty. If you hadn’t fumbled you would have been down at the 20 yard line and the decision would still have been the wrong one. The only situation in which a player could even remotely defend bringing the ball out is if they saw a major hole in the coverage and an outlet to the sideline to boot. Ty mentioned neither of these and as the following photo illustrates…he had nothing. We’ve seen how Ty runs against 8-man boxes and it isn’t pretty. Well, this was no “opportunity” to make a play, this was either just and out and out mistake or direct defiance of the coaching he received on the sidelines. If Ty hadn’t fumbled, he would have been tackled on the 20 yard line which would have taken five yards away from the two minute offense and rolled the clock. The decision is still a bad one.
It is interesting to me that far from taking any ownership of his actions, Ty Montgomery takes the opportunity to lecture reporters on how the kicker was kicking and quiz them on what the deep balls and in-play balls looked like. This would be great information except that his actual excuse for taking the ball out of the end-zone has more holes in it than a wedge of Wisconsin baby Swiss. Further, Montgomery never even said (at least in this video) that he didn’t directly defy orders, he says that he “has never been a guy to completely disobey what I’m being told.” There is a subtle difference there that often belies deception. If he didn’t do it…one would expect him to say as much. And in this situation if he didn’t do it, why is there no anger or emotion? Just a deadpan statement that frankly I think is less than the whole truth.
This is just my opinion, but the title to the ESPN headline says Ty admitted he had made a mistake. Now, the video has certainly been cut so perhaps we aren’t getting the whole story here but really I would have a lot more respect for Ty if he had just said “Yeah, I screwed up…it won’t happen again.” Far from this is the roundabout explanation and his mention of “limited opportunities” indicates that he may be willing to create them for himself. As the lone kick returner Ty has been effective at times with a couple nice returns called back due to penalties. While I would have preferred to see a straight up answer and can’t help but call it like I see it, I hope Ty bounces back. While I think this team would be just fine with Jones and Williams in the backfield, cutting or trading Ty Montgomery means the team is seriously lacking depth at the position. And Montgomery has shown in the past that he can make plays. Hopefully, this all blows over and the next time (if there is one) Ty is taking the ball out of the end-zone on a return, it is for a touchdown.