By Ernie Palladino
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Some things take a village to build.
It may take an entire nation to put poor Mark Sanchez back together again.
What he’s done to the Jets this year is a matter of record, of course. That alone is an indictment of his abilities as an NFL quarterback. But now that Sanchez is no longer part of the Jets’ present, as Greg McElroy presumably will start for the final two games of this miserable season regardless of how badly he mucks things up Sunday against the Chargers, we can now address him as a person as well as a professional athlete.
As badly as he played this year, for whatever reason offered, one must regard Sanchez as personally shattered right now. He may be banking millions, but whether you want to believe it or not, Sanchez is also a competitor. All NFL quarterbacks are. Comes with the territory.
That competitor has not only failed; he has imploded on an incredible scale.
If the 24 turnovers this year haven’t embarrassed him, the humiliation of Rex Ryan pulling him from Arizona and then setting him up with a permanent back-row seat after two more games have no doubt set an already-fragile psyche spiraling into the abyss.
There is no consolation available. His defensive teammates, not the least of whom is Calvin Pace, have turned against him. The offense isn’t particularly enthralled with him, either. His coaches have such a lack of faith that they won’t trust him with the final two games of a lost season.
The public? The death threat he received from one nutjob after his five-turnover performance against the Titans made all the booing at MetLife Stadium this year inconsequential by comparison.
You probably won’t see Sanchez on the arm of some TV star in offseason pictures. Not that any of us should care about that, anyway.
The point is, it’s going to take Sanchez a lot of time, maybe eternity, to get over a monumental failure like this. The expectations were so high for him coming out of USC, and he has sunk so exceedingly low, that he may never be an effective quarterback again.
The only mental salvation for him now is for the Jets to somehow move him out of New York. That’s where the nation comes in. Mike Tannenbaum — or whoever is sitting in his seat two days after the season ends — must scour the NFL for someone willing to take on that stupid five-year extension that guarantees him $8.25 million in 2013.
A team would have to be awfully stupid to do something like that, so figure the first calls should be to the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. It might do his confidence some good to sit behind Carson Palmer in the Black-and-Silver, if only to realize that if the former Bengals flop can still start somewhere, there’s hope for Sanchez.
Cleveland? It will hurt to sit behind young Brandon Weeden. But better to start a season like that than be replaced at the end by a second-year guy who had never taken a snap in anger before Sanchez crashed.
It would be mentally cruel for Sanchez to come back here next season. But that is exactly what might happen, since simply dumping him quickly in the absence of a trade partner would trigger a $17.1 million salary cap hit.
That’s why management must put all its sweet-talk, all its glibness, all its power of persuasion into overdrive to get Sanchez out of town. If only to show a modicum of mercy toward a good guy who quite simply is not a good quarterback, the Jets need to move him.
To keep him here would amount to an act of mental cruelty.
For all his many and various faults on the field, Sanchez the person doesn’t deserve that.
Has Sanchez taken his last snap as a starting QB in the NFL? Could he reclaim his game elsewhere? Be heard in the comments!