Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is one of those guys that has it all. He has the fame, the money, the looks — pretty much what every guy strives for, but also what he hates about those who do enjoy such luxuries. And now, Sanchez is willing to do whatever it takes to add a big, shiny ring to his resume, which is making it more and more difficult to dislike him.
Sanchez is no Tom Brady, nor will he ever be. Let's get that out of the way right now.
Sanchez's numbers through his first two seasons are far from impressive, and it often looks as if the Jets are winning despite him rather than because of him. Although he's been to two AFC championship games, he's completed only 54.4 percent of his passes, and has 29 touchdowns to 33 interceptions during the regular season.
While Sanchez showed improvement in terms of his poise during last year's playoffs, particularly against New England, he's actually been quite overrated when you take into consideration his statistics, draft position and hype.
But the young Jets quarterback is exhibiting Brady-like leadership off the field in an effort to give the Jets their first Super Bowl victory since "Broadway" Joe Namath was running the show in Super Bowl III.
Back in 2007, when the Patriots acquired wide receiver Randy Moss on the second day of the NFL draft, Tom Brady willingly restructured his contract so that the team's front office would be able to absorb Moss' contract — which had the wideout set to make $9.75 million for that upcoming season. Moss, of course, went on to sign a new one-year deal shortly thereafter, and Brady wouldn't really end up losing money over time. But the Patriots QB still showed what separates him from so many of the game's other superstars by happily agreeing to rework his deal.
On Tuesday, Mark Sanchez expressed a willingness to do the same.
Whether or not it becomes a reality or he ends up losing money in the long run remains to be seen, but the 25-year-old former first-round pick has made it clear that winning is his primary focus heading into the upcoming season by offering to restructure his contract — a very Brady-like move.
"Whatever we need to do to win, it's on," Sanchez said. "I think our whole team feels that way, [Darrelle] Revis, me, whoever, it doesn't matter."
Considering Revis' lengthy holdout last season, it's debatable whether he really does feel the same way, but I digress.
Now, Sanchez might make Patriots fans sick to their stomachs, especially since he's a media lightning rod without having earned a Super Bowl ring yet. He's pre-2007 Peyton Manning in that regard, although Manning's individual, on-field resume was far more illustrious than Sanchez's.
But Sanchez is saying, and apparently willing to do, all of the right things when it comes to getting the Jets over the hump. Often times, so much gets made of professional athletes acting selfishly at the bargaining table that it's hard to ignore when a player does the opposite, which is exactly what Sanchez did here.
So while the usual hoopla surrounding the Jets QB is still sickening given his on-field performance thus far, he deserves at least a little bit of credit for his enthusiasm to surround himself with the most talent he can in an effort to win – even if it means taking money out of his own pocket.
With all that said, it might not matter what kind of financial flexibility the Jets gain from Sanchez's seemingly heroic deed and win-or-bust mentality because, at the end of the day, the team's success relies heavily on the performance of Sanchez himself — not the guys around him.
The Jets have had a solid running game and one of the stingiest defenses in the league for the past two seasons, but they haven't been able to seal the deal yet on the big stage. Sure, Sanchez has shown improvement over the course of his six playoff games, but he still needs to show that he can bring his team to new heights — which would be true Brady fashion.
So yes, Sanchez deserves a tip of the cap for his winning mentality and his willingness to acquire top-flight talent at his own expense. No matter how much it may pain New England fans to hear that, it's not every day that an athlete shows such selflessness.
But games are still won on the field rather than at any podium or bargaining table. And the fact that Sanchez hasn't stepped up thus far should force the young quarterback to take a look in the mirror and realize that he personally needs to do a lot more on the field to ensure his Super Bowl fantasies become a reality.
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