There’s no question that Jets faithful are one of the most passionate fan bases in the NFL. But as Mark Sanchez has witnessed, some (OK, a lot) of that passion is not always directed in a positive manner.
Sanchez, he of the ButtFumble lore, has been a punching bag for Jets fans in recent months, and things came to a head during Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, when thousands mercilessly booed him for throwing an interception.
At the time, cornerback Antonio Cromartie called the gesture “bull crap.” Now, the media is piling on, yet surprisingly in the incumbent quarterback’s favor.
In a scathing column for the New York Daily News, Manish Mehta blasted the boo-birds, labeling a segment of Jets fans as “classless,” “self-loathing,” and “obnoxious,” among other adjectives.
Sanchez doesn’t disagree.
“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir,” Sanchez said. “You heard what Cromartie said. Cromartie was pissed. Cromartie’s like, ‘What are you talking about? You’re going to come here and boo? For what? Then don’t come.’ A lot of guys feel like that.”
Neither does his coach.
“We want our fans behind us at all times,” Rex Ryan said. “Obviously guys make mistakes. . .We don’t want our guys getting booed, especially from our fans because we all are in green and white, including our fans. This game’s tough enough . . . but we need to support each other.”
Sanchez salvaged an otherwise forgettable scrimmage by connecting on a perfectly thrown 57-yard touchdown, which, at least temporarily, brought the crowd back on his side.
Still, he’s evidently tired of the fans’ bipolar tendencies.
“I throw the interception and people wanted to kick me out of the stadium,” Sanchez said. “I come back and throw the last pass, that’s all you hear when you’re signing autographs: ‘Hell of a pass, man! What a great throw! Great job!’ ”
“It’s not like they’re like, ‘Boo! You threw an interception and you’re a real jerk,’ ” Sanchez added. “It’s not like, ‘Boo! You’re a real a–hole. You’re a bad person. Boo! You speed down the highway, run red lights and punch old ladies.’ No . . . they’re booing because I made a bad play.”
Kudos to Sanchez for being so candid, but he really should be used to this treatment by now. The New York market might be the toughest place to play for a high-profile athlete. There’s a true “what have you done for me lately?” mentality that reverberates throughout the city, and lately Sanchez hasn’t done much.
Those back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship are a distant memory to most Jets fans, who’d sooner recall Sanchez’s league-high 52 turnovers in the last two seasons. The same ones who were booing on Saturday were likely the same ones who cheered when Sanchez was hurt last year. It doesn’t make it right, but that’s just the way it is.
And if he thinks it’s bad now, wait until he throws his first interception of the regular season. Assuming he’s beaten out for the starting job by rookie Geno Smith — something one Jet is hoping for — it truly may be a blessing in disguise for the “Sanchize.”
(Photo credit: Robert Sabo/New York Daily News)