Joe Namath: Mark Sanchez got raw deal from Jets

As the clock ticks down on Mark Sanchez’s career with the Jets, fans and media alike have wondered “what if?”

What if Sanchez had a better supporting cast around him in 2012, when the team finished 6-10?

What if he wasn’t foolishly — and begrudgingly — inserted into a meaningless preseason game in 2013, when he was subsequently injured and lost for the season?

What if he, not Geno Smith, got a chance to grow in Marty Mornhinweg’s pass-happy system?

Joe Namath doesn’t need to ponder the hypotheticals. He firmly believes the oft-criticized quarterback has gotten a raw deal with the Jets in recent years, telling Newsday’s Bob Glauber that Sanchez handled the situation better than he’d have.

“I’d have been out of there if I was Sanchez because of the treatment he got,” Namath said. “I would have been angry, as opposed to the way Mark handled things, and I applaud him for being very understanding and all. As poorly as he played at times, he got more blame than he deserves. It’s a team sport. I learned it a long time ago, and I also know quarterbacks get a lot of credit and blame. That comes with the position. I would have probably lived up to my contract, but I’d have probably been [ticked] off.”

Namath, who’s seemingly always been a fan of Sanchez, claims the man behind the Butt Fumble will be hanging around the NFL for another decade.

“Sanchez would have been starting for me last year if he didn’t get hurt from what I saw in the preseason,” Namath said. “I still think he can be a very good quarterback. It’s a team-oriented sport, you have to have the help around you. He had a couple of rough seasons, but I still think he has the physical ability, certainly the heart and the mental approach to the game. He’s going to be around for another 10, 12 years, believe me, as long as he wants to play.”

That opinion could be guided by the fact that Geno just doesn’t cut it for Broadway Joe.

“I would be looking [in the draft], let’s put it that way. I’m not 100 percent sure the answer is there [with Smith]. Watching some of those all-star [college] games and bowl games, I saw some dudes out there that looked pretty damn impressive [at quarterback],” he said.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

After $58 million, countless turnovers, and one unforgettable follie, Sanchez, once a franchise quarterback, will soon hit the open market, likely destined to finish out his days holding a clipboard.

But no matter where Sanchez ends up next, he can take comfort in knowing he’ll always have a fanbase. Well, a fan, anyway.

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, MSN.com, FanSided.com, and About.com. Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (zpkelb@gmail.com).