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Mark Sanchez Interview Transcript

Courtesy NY Jets PR Department

I just want to start and say thank you guys for being here. This is a special day, as you can imagine. As you can see, my whole family is here and that will give you guys a chance to see what we are all about. Our family is pretty tight knit and very supportive, so I feel right at home here with the Jets. It’s a tight-knit group and a family, not just a football team.

I am just thrilled that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Tannenbaum, Coach Ryan, Coach Schottenheimer and Coach Cavanaugh thought enough of me to make the trade that they did. That meant a lot. I am going to get used to the Atlantic Health New York Jets Training Center. It’s going to be a blast and I am excited for these next few years.

On receiving jersey No. 6 from punter Reggie Hidges…

We worked out a small side agreement. We’ll leave it at that for now. We are still working over things, but we might still be doing some trades. He was nice enough to give it to me and I am very grateful. It means a lot.

On a question about the Jets on his conference call with the media before the draft…

I said, “I don’t know, maybe they don’t like me anymore,” but it’s obvious they do. It’s been very special. In talking to my agent, Dave Dunn, it’s very rare that you find a team that you like so much and you end up getting drafted by them. You are usually heartbroken on draft day.

I tried not to get too attached, but I just had such a great time at dinner with them. I loved the workout and I felt comfortable with Coach Schottenheimer when he worked me out at my high school. It’s just been a fun ride so far and a lot more successful and fun days are ahead.

On if he paid attention to Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and other 2008 rookies…

I think they did a fantastic job where they were, especially coming in as rookies and leading their teams to the playoffs. They are just anomalies among rookie quarterbacks. It’s very special. If that is the case here and I am starting right away, obviously those are some serious goals — the playoffs, our division, things like that.

It is going to start from day one and there is a lot of work ahead. This isn’t an endpoint. Getting here is about winning regular-season games and playoffs and championships. It is about hard work and dedication and that is what Coach Ryan is all about.

On having confidence in the system…

Absolutely, and knowing the system I’m coming from with Coach Sarkisian and Coach Carroll, it translated well to my meetings with Coach Schottenheimer and Coach Cavanaugh. It’s similar concepts, similar reads, a lot of emphasis on the quarterback, like I’m used to, and that’s important. Like I said, for them to think enough to do what they did to get me means a lot and I’m excited about it.

On why his personality will help him succeed in New York on the field and off…

My family background has always been very supportive. They’re going to be there for me no matter what. The media training I had at USC, a pretty large media market, not quite as big as New York, it’s only going to get bigger and better, but I think that helps.

At USC, they put a lot of emphasis on the quarterback with Heisman Trophy winners, All-Americans and national champions and they want results, just like the fans here, just like the press here. That’s what they want. That’s what I’m prepared to work for, obviously, and with such a great team around me now it’s going to be a blast.

On the last 24 hours and advice he’s been given…

It’s been a whirlwind tour as you can imagine. I was here for the beginning parts of the draft and then flew out draft day. I was waiting on the phone, got the call from Mr. Tannenbaum and just went nuts. The whole family was there and had a blast.

Then we flew back last night at midnight and got here this morning, I was asleep on the plane the whole way and they were nice enough to fly out the whole family. It’s been fun for us. We still have a long ways to go today. We are going down to Radio City Music Hall and we’re giving my family a taste of my new home.

On what distinguished the meeting with the Jets from other teams that were interested…

When we were talking about the playbook with Coach Schottenheimer, I felt comfortable just talking to him, and Coach Ryan was great. We were talking about defense, the Xs and Os side, and just having fun together. It wasn’t as stressful. It was serious, it was about ball, but I just felt calm and comfortable and confident in that setting.

Mr. Johnson and I were talking about the new stadium at dinner, Coach Ryan had a blast at dinner, too — he loved his dessert there. It was great [laughter], so it was fun, it was a great time.

On his impression of Coach Ryan’s demeanor…

My high school coach is pretty similar, an easygoing kind of guy, but when its football time, people know. It’s obvious he knows how to flip that switch. He just has a quiet calm about him. He’s personable, affable and he was really excited to see me today so it was a great meeting between us.

On who was there with him…

My mom’s here, Olga, she’s here with my stepmom, Maddy, my dad, Nick, Paula my sister- in-law, my middle brother, Brandon, and Nicko, my nephew. My oldest brother, Nick, is in the back, and Dave Dunn, my agent. So the whole crew.

On the biggest challenge…

There’s going to be a ton of challenges. One is just the locker room setting. There’s guys here, even in the huddle, who’ve been in this league for a while, maybe five-plus years, and I have tremendous respect for those veterans. But at the same time it’s about coming into my own, maturing as an NFL quarterback and speaking their language along with the offense. That’s going to be a challenge, getting in the playbook, getting in the system, speaking their language exactly like they do and then just competing for my spot.

I have tremendous respect for Kellen [Clemens] as well. I spoke to him yesterday, and he’s great. We’re with the same agency so it’s going to be fun for us. We’re great friends about it and we’ll be competitive. It’ll be the regular rookie feelings for me and excitement. It’s going to be a great challenge, but I’m ready for it.

On who initiated the phonecall between him and Clemens …

I gave him a call. I said “Hey, Kellen, it’s Mark,” and he said, “Hey, how are you doing, man? Congratulations, welcome to the Jets family.” That was one of the first things he said so you can tell he’s a first-class guy. For him to be able to do that and talk to me the way he did — he said, “You know, man, we’re going to have fun together. You’ll get along with Coach Rex and Coach Schottenheimer.” We had a good talk.

On if that call was important to make…

Absolutely. I met him before at a golf tournament for our agency so it made things a lot better. It’s great.

On if his intangibles are as important as his tangibles…

I think so. That’s just me being excited about playing and when you get in the huddle it’s not just spitting out a play verbatim and coughing up what the coach said. You have to tell them what’s going on and give them an alert. Tell them, “Hey, we’re in the red zone,” and that might click to one of the receivers — “All right, this is how I run my route in the red zone.” So things like that you learn. I learned that from Carson [Palmer] and Matt [Leinart] and John David [Booty] and it just kind of transferred over into my game.

Those intangibles are important, the locker room presence. It’s not about talking all the time and saying too much and coming in thinking too much, expecting too much. It’s about being a guide and just letting them know, “Hey, I’m here to work. We’ve got a lot of work to go and I’m trying to be one of you guys, trying to be one of the Jets family.”

On how much it means being a QB coming from Southern Cal…

It’s pretty special. I come from an elite fraternity and I’m flattered to be a part of it. I’m honored and I’ve learned a ton. From the way Carson was, I mean, he went from getting killed his first four years and people were down on him. And to see his perseverance. It was the same with John David [Booty] when he got hurt his senior year. I stepped in for him and people really turned on him, and he came back and finished the season well.

I’ve seen how quarterbacks have the potential to get broken as soon as people get down on them and those guys just popped right back up. That’s important in this game, to be resilient and to work, and that’s what I plan to do.

On how top-rated QBs entering the draft don’t usually perform at the combine and if his decision to perform offers insight into his personality…

I think so. I remember having a conversation with Dave Dunn where he asked if I did want to work out. I said, “Are you kidding me? What else would I do? I’m a quarterback. I’m here to throw. I’m here to work.” That’s what I’m about — being a gym rat. I think that’s what this team and the ownership saw in me, so that’s really important. I’m really into that.

I’m excited about playing ball. I was excited about draft day. It was a blast. This minicamp, these next few weeks, being in New York, being at the facility, hanging around, watching film, getting into the playbook, that’s the best part.

On Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll’s reaction…

He was so excited. He said, “Man, you’re going to New York from Los Angeles. You couldn’t write it any better.” I agree. It’s a special place to be. He gave me some advice on the city, told me where to go, the hotspots. I said, “Man, that was a long time ago.”.

On Carroll’s initial reaction that Sanchez should not enter the draft…

Coach Carroll is so competitive and I think that really took a negative spin. He’s been so supportive. We disagreed on one issue, and he’s competing to get me back on his team, and I took it as a form of respect. Really, he has been so supportive. I’m a huge Coach Carroll fan.

He had the draft streaming on the Megatron in the Coliseum and he would take timeouts when all the players were being drafted: me, [Brian] Cushing and [Rey] Maualuga. As soon as I went number five, boom, “Jets trade up with the Browns, Sanchez to the Jets,” the place went nuts. He said it was the biggest draft party. Over 25,000 fans just went roaring in the Coliseum, so he was very excited for me.

On coming in with only 16 games of starting experience…

Those 16 games have been very meaningful. They’ve been in a pro-style system, like I alluded to before. They’ve been on national stages. Every game here with the Jets is a Rose Bowl game. I know what that feels like. I know the anticipation. I know what it feels like to throw balls in the Rose Bowl, national implications, bowl implications.

Now it will be a two-minute drill to win the division and USC has really prepared me for that. It’s going to be versus the best competition in practice and in the games, against the Ohio States, the Penn States. Every year it’s Cedric Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, [Brian] Cushing, Clay [Matthews], all those guys, every year they are the first eight guys. In a USC practice, it’s 1’s on 1’s every day. It’s competitive and I’ve been able to handle the media pretty well in LA and this is obviously a step up. I’ll learn a lot along the way and I have a great staff around me and people to really help out. They have been really supportive up until this point.

On the role the media play in a QB’s success…

Winning is the equalizer. If you’re winning, whether you throw two picks or two touchdowns, it changes how the quarterback plays [in the media]. That’s no doubt. It’s obvious with Joe Flacco’s performance last year. He did awesome and he’s taken his team to the playoffs, but some games weren’t the best statistically and he would say that, too. He didn’t have the best quarterback rating but they won the game and I can tell with Coach Ryan that’s what they are about here.

We’re going to have fun while we do it. They’re going to give us every opportunity they can. I mean, look at this place [Atlantic Health Training Center] — it’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it.

As far as the media goes, it’s something that can help your team when you are winning and when things are down it’s tough, they are tough on you. There is a tight-knit family here. I can feel that. Whatever happens, win or lose, this is going to be a great place to play.

On his arm strength…

Deceptively strong [laughter]. Don’t worry about the wind. We will be all right.

On getting a deal in place and the possibility of holding out…

We’ll get it done. In this process, I already feel I am in the hunt. I need to get in this place right now. I need as many reps as possible.

On what he learned from his off-field challenges…

There were no charges there. It was simply false allegations, but in that kind of situation, you’re in a huge media spotlight just like here with the Jets. People know where you go, where you go to eat, who you are dating and things like that. To be in a situation like that, it taught me so much, especially without having any of the consequences because they weren’t deserved. It was crazy.

But you learn the kind of spotlight, the kind of pressure you are under, how important it is to be in the right situations and to trust the people around you. I can tell that I can trust the people here and I’ve learned quite a lot to bring family back into that process. It’s really only been the only blemish on my record, and you talk to character references and nobody believed it. It was crazy. So it was great to come out of that. I have a strong family around me and nothing like that has happened or will happen again.

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