Joe Namath knows a thing or two about playing the quarterback position in New York City. Under the bright lights of the Broadway stage, a zillion other signal-callers have shriveled under the pressure.
However, Namath thrived, and he believes Mark Sanchez still can too.
Thus, while he doesn’t believe that New York’s second-round draft pick, Geno Smith, is a bad player, he believes the team should have used the pick to continue to build up the talent base around their incumbent starter.
“No, I don’t think they needed a quarterback,” Namath told the New York Daily News at the United Way’s 20th annual Gridiron Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Tuesday. “They needed the other positions filled. Possibly offensive line. They got some defensive line. The safeties are still questionable. The outside linebackers are still questionable.”
Obviously, there are plenty of drinking or Suzy Kolber jokes to be made, but the truth is Namath is simply supporting a player who led his favorite Jets franchise to consecutive AFC Championship berths.
“I am pulling for him,” Namath said of Sanchez. “I know that he can do better than he’s done. And we saw him lead a team to two AFC championship games, right? I also know what it’s like not to necessarily have the weapons you’d like to have, not to necessarily have the time you’d like to accomplish.”
The point Namath makes is a good one. After wide receiver Santonio Holmes went down with a torn ACL early in the year, Sanchez did not exactly have a cadre of weapons at the position. No receivers finished the season with more than three receiving touchdowns. Yes, some of that was on Sanchez’s (very) poor play, but a lot of that has to be on the receivers to actually get open.
After all, as Namath puts it, this is a “team game.”
“I know it’s a team game and I know Sanchez is going to play better,” Namath added. “I promise you you’ll see a different guy (this year). I believe you’ll see a different guy.
“Mark’s not a puppy anymore,” he added. “He’s gone through some things, growing process. As far as Sanchez goes, even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to. He’s that good. As long as he wants to, he’s going to be in the NFL.”
Sanchez obviously has a supporter in Broadway Joe, now a new season will give him the chance to earn the support of the the rest of the city — or find himself playing somewhere else.
[H/T: Pro Football Talk]