Los Angeles, CA
When I was a kid, Richard Todd was the Jets quarterback. He took the reigns in the post-Joe Namath era for the late 1970s and early 1980s. I never got to see Namath play football in a NY Jets uniform. I only knew him from his Noxema commercials with Farah Fawcett and the drunken incident on the sidelines a few years ago when he tried to smother Suzy Kolber with his tongue.
Richard Todd was the man before Ken O'Brien finished out the 1980s as the leader of Gang Green. A bust named Browning Nagle took the snaps for 13 games before Boomer Esaison stepped in for three seasons at the start of the 1990s.
The mid-90s were a clusterfuck. Glen Foley? That pussy Neil O'Donnell (who hurt himself in warmups) and journeyman back up Frank Reich.
Then we were treated with the glorious Vinny Testaverde era peppered with one season when Ray Lucas and Rick Mirer competed for ineptness as the QB. Vinny was an anomaly considering he played his college ball in Miami, because he could play in any form of weather, especially the bitter cold, freezing ice, and blustery snow. Vinny had a gun and a monster arm, but his huge liability was that he was color blind and threw too many perfect and crisp passes to the opposing players. Testaverde is Latin for "lacking color in sight"... if you didn't know. The Jesuits taught me well.
The turn of the century were the Chad "paper mache" Pennington years. You couldn't help but root for the "awww sucks" kid with his Southern drawl. However, Pennington was constantly hurt which led to so many frustrating years compounded with the fact that there was always that rumor hovering above Jets HQ that Randy Moss would someday sign with the Jets since he and Pennington played ball together at Marshall. Of course, that never happened. Pennington was plagued with injuries during his career with the Jets and Moss ended up catching 346 TDs from golden boy Tom Brady and the evil New England Patriots.
Then there was the abortion of a season led by that redneck Brett Favre. Yeah, he was hurt last year, but everyone is hurt in the NFL. My scorn for Favre bubbled up this season and not last season due his drama-ladened move over to the Minnesota Vikings coupled with some of the shit he said about the Jets staff. And now, he has a monster season with his new team, who are a few steps away from a Super Bowl berth provided they can smoke the Cowboys (highly possible - so much so I bet on Minnesota today) and then head down to the Big Easy and beat New Orleans on their own turf.
Sorry for the tangent. Favre left a salty taste in my mouth, so I welcomed rookie Mark Sanchez when the Jets drafted him. Normally, I'm not thrilled with USC QBs, but this kid was different. Unlike most USC students, he was a kid from a working class family... his father's trade was a fireman who saved lives. And now the fate of the NY Jets franchise rests on Mark Sanchez's arm.
Like Testaverde, Sanchez has a gun, yet prone to turnovers. But the kid is not colorblind... he just forces the action too much and is not afraid to take chances. You know who else used to play like that? Brett Favre in his early days with the Green Bay Packers.
Will the Jets win today? I hope so but it's going to be a tough game to beat San Diego at home. I went with an emotional hedge and bet against the Jets (just like last weekend when I took the Bengals) in the hopes that if they lose... then I'll at least be compensated for the seasoning coming to an abrupt halt. This is not the Jets year, but they have a solid infrastructure and a few (healthy) players away from having a legit chance at going to the Big Game in the next two years.
Then again, anything can happen.
Sanchez is playing as close to home as possible (since LA does not have a pro football team -- then again they do, it's called the USC Trojans) with his friends and family in the crowd. Who knows if that sort of motivation can carry over into his performance. All teams need a leader and the Jets fate today rests in the hands and arm of a rookie... Mark Sanchez... as he ushers Gang Green into the 2010s.