Torch in Sanchez’s Hands Now

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 9/15/09

The torch has been passed.  Now, let’s see how far the kid can run with it.

Prior to making his first professional start, New York Jets rookie Quarterback, Mark Sanchez met up with the only man to ever lead the franchise to a Super Bowl – Joe Namath.  For over forty years now, long-time suffering Jets fans have savored Joe Willie’s performance in Super Bowl III, speaking glowingly about the iconic figure and his positive contribution to an otherwise abysmal team history.  Sunday at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX, Namath informed Sanchez that it’s time to move on.

“…this isn’t about me anymore.  It’s about you,” he told Sanchez.

With that, a new era of New York Jets football began.  Jets 24, Texans 7.

Sanchez was confident and efficient, throwing for 272 yards including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chanci Stuckey.  He was masterful under pressure, converting 10 of 18 third downs.  He exhibited great mobility in the pocket, and excellent decision making throughout.  Sanchez’s play, coupled with a pair of big runs from Thomas Jones, and Rex Ryan’s“Ravenous” defensive scheme, left Jets fans giddy at what the future might bring.  His quick start was reminiscent of the way another former New York rookie began his storied career.

Thirteen years ago, with similar poise and passion to what Sanchez displayed yesterday, Derek Jeter wrote the first chapter of his legendary career.  Now the all-time Yankees hits leader, Derek Jeter began his 1996 rookie season in Cleveland with a home run and a pair of dazzling plays at short stop.  The sky was the limit that day, and for over a decade, Jeter has been as good as advertised.

He further solidified his legacy on Friday night by passing Lou Gehrig’s hits total.  On Sunday, the fiery kid from SoCal began writing his own legacy, chasing Broadway Joe along the way.

One game into “Matinee” Mark’s career, he looks up for the challenge…even if it was only one game.

“It isn’t fair to anyone to judge a young quarterback after one game,” Namath said.  “Even if it was a really good game…what I saw was a kid who was ready.”

The kid was ready, and so are Jets fans.

In 1996, the Yankees, with a new manager (Torre) and a new leader(Jeter), built on chemistry carried over from the previous regime to capture the team’s first title in 18 years.  It’s been over forty years without a Jets Super Bowl victory.  Could a new coach (Ryan) and a new leader (Sanchez) do the trick for Gang Green too?  Jets faithful burn for another title run – time will tell if Sanchez can light that fire with his new torch.

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