By Jason Keidel
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As you slept through that soporific football game at MetLife — about as pyrotechnic as a Pop Warner game — you probably witnessed a star fall as hard to the turf as any we’ve seen in New York sports.
Mark Sanchez, the Golden Boy from USC, blessed with talent and heart and GQ cheekbones, who led the Jets to two AFC title games, has been reduced to dust. He has gone from cute and cavalier to a befuddled backup, his new refrain a slack-jawed gaze at the big screen to watch his latest interception, his sloped-shoulder stagger back to the sideline, looking for support from a coaching staff that invested a fortune and their future.
Greg McElroy, a seventh-round pick, replaced the millionaire starter and the team clearly played harder, if not better. That is to be expected when a substitute, a variable, enters the game.
But what had to be heartbreaking for Sanchez was the collective howl for his head, and the hero’s reception given his replacement. That, as much as anything, is the emblem of his demise.
Whatever intangible that makes an athlete great — call it swagger, confidence, mojo, or moxie — Sanchez has it no more.
It can’t please anyone to see this because there’s an inherent heartache when anyone fails so completely. I recently called for the Jets to jettison Sanchez for these very reasons.
But what makes Mark Sanchez’s fall so befuddling is that there is no apparent reason for it. He wasn’t injured. His status was never questioned. And he had the Jets 30 minutes from a Super Bowl against Indianapolis. Sure, he wasn’t given the weapons to win en masse, but that doesn’t account for the hand grenades he now heaves to squatting safeties.
Maybe Sanchez latches onto another team with a chasmal void at quarterback. But his time in this town, as the QB of the NYJ, is finished.
The Jets may have celebrated their prehistoric performance against the Cardinals yesterday, a Flintstone football game that would make Woody Hayes blush. But to watch Mark Sanchez, a proud man who once remembered how to win, drift into the sideline, into obscurity, perhaps losing his perch forever, is no reason to rejoice.
Are you surprised by Sanchez’s fall? Be heard in the comments below…