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Media scrutiny of Mark Sanchez

Media scrutiny of Mark Sanchez getting out of control

By Tyson Rauch

When the New York Jets selected Mark Sanchez with the fifth pick in the 2009 NFL draft it was no secret that the expectations would be high for the young gunslinger. The Jets are a team desperately seeking a face of their franchise, while the championship starved fan base has been longing for a franchise quarterback of their own. Based on his ability Mark Sanchez should be able to fit the bill for the Jets and their fans, but it was just going to take some time and patience. Lets not forget this is a 23-year old rookie that not only has to find his way in the NFL, but also has to do it in the biggest media market in the world.

Throughout the first thirteen weeks of the season Mark has had his highs and low, common for rookie quarterbacks, but there is an alarming trend starting. The media, mainly in New York, has felt the need to overanalyze and criticize the young quarterback from the University of Southern California. Every move he makes and word he speaks is broken down to find any sign of weakness. While this coverage is understandable for a marquee quarterback in the New York market, at what point does it go too far?

Recently a New York writer stated that Mark Sanchez deserved to wear a dunce cap based on a play he made in the game against the Buffalo Bills. Before we go into the ignorant comment, lets take a look at the actual situation. The Jets have been on Sanchez to take better care of himself, wanting him to slide to avoid tackles when he carries the ball. The philosophy of sliding to avoid contact makes sense, as you want to preserve your quarterback. But at the same time it only applies in certain situations, and there are times when it is not applicable. In the heat of the competition there are moments when the killer instinct comes out and a playmaker strives to make plays, which in many times is the difference between winning and losing games.

Early in the third quarter on a 3rd and 6 play, Sanchez scrambled out of the pocket and dove head first to get a first down. This play, which is performed on a weekly basis by quarterbacks throughout the NFL, resulted in Mark hurting his right knee. Now many in the media are criticizing Sanchez for not sliding, which would have resulted in the Jets punting, and are taking shots at his character and state of mind. So let me get this straight. The kid made a gutsy play trying to get a first down for his team and now he should wear a dunce cap? The quarterback that knew his team was a desperate for a win and was just trying to keep the momentum on the Jets side is now incapable of leading his team? Really? Funny I thought it was a good play and like the fact that the kid was aggressive and has taken on a leadership role. Maybe I should be wearing the dunce cap too?

It is one thing to take hits for no reason or to play carelessly, but in this situation that is not the case. It is almost synonymous with sliding head first into a base in baseball. It is not the preferred method of sliding, but at times players do it (see Derek Jeter). Not to mention that the play Sanchez is being criticized for happens in games every week. While the injury is unfortunate, many have been hurt in the NFL doing much less (see Vinny Testaverde 1999).

At some point the media needs to take a step back and look at the big picture a bit. While I understand the need to get flashy headlines and sell papers, understand your subject before spewing your venom.

Here is the discussion thread.

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