This is all Namath's fault.
Mark Sanchez may be the latest example, but for thirty years, every franchise quarterback in New York City has had to exist in the shadow of the Joe Namath legacy, forever measured against him and destined to fall short. Nobody can ever match the cocktail of winning, swagger, unrepentant womanizing, and, well, cocktails, that defined Broadway Joe. It's unfair, too.
We make fun of someone like Mark Sanchez in 2011, but you think Namath never dabbled in a lil' underage lovin? Think Namath would have blushed when GQ asked him to pose in a skin-tight tank top and designer jeans? For that matter, you think he wasn't wildly erratic as a Jets starter?
In 12 seasons with the Jets, he had more interceptions than touchdowns in ten of them. And skinny jeans? Namath endorsed pantyhose, for God's sake. The biggest (only?) difference between Namath and Mark Sanchez is that Deadspin wasn't around to cover Namath's exploits in all their glory.
All of which brings us to Mark Sanchez and the GQ cover story that will inevitably lead to more catcalls from football fans around New York City and everywhere else. It includes scenes like this: "Maybe the most striking thing about Sanchez's home is what's on the DVR. Holding a white towel around his waist, heading for the shower, he flips through his saved shows. A documentary about Justin Bieber? Episodes of Glee? The quarterback of the New York Jets is a Gleek and a Belieber?"
And revelations like this: "Sanchez hasn't yet joked with Ryan about that almost-benching. And he doesn't expect to. 'I wanted to fight him ... I was really mad.'" Altogether, it paints a picture of a goofy, surprisingly thin-skinned professional athlete who's seems a little bit clueless. At one point he compares himself to Broadway performers: "You know, their voice is like my arm."
The online version over the story, "Broadway Mark", is over at GQ now, and you can read the full story on newstands this week. (It's by J.R. Moehringer, who's previous work includes awesome profiles of LeBron James summer and Kobe Bryant the year before.)
But for the record, we should love Mark Sanchez for all this. He's not the prototypical NFL superhero, but he's an authentic character, and human in a way that someone like Tom Brady never will be. And as a player, he may not be consistent and he's probably cockier than he is talented, but to his credit, he's usually at his best under pressure in the playoffs.
So sure, nobody can ever live up to the Namath legend, and if you want to see Sanchez as more evidence that they just don't make 'em like they used to, that's alright. As long as you remember that good and bad, thin-skinned and cocky, inconsistent but strangely clutch, for better or worse, Mark Sanchez is probably about as close to Broadway as we've ever seen.
With that, let's get into another edition of Talking Points...
More Jets Weirdness. Remember when Michael Vick got out of prison and everyone wondered whether he'd be the same? For some reason, it doesn't seem like that's happening with Plaxico Burress as much. It's like everyone thinks, "If Michael Vick can get back on top, why not Plaxico?" Which, when you think about it, is kind of insane. "If the greatest athlete the NFL's seen since Bo Jackson can do it, why not this 34 year-old receiver?"
I'm rooting for Plaxico, though. If only because his heartfelt, "learned-my-lesson" interviews will be a lot more entertaining than Vick's. Hearing Michael Vick talk about dogfighting is uncomfortable, even now; hearing Plaxico talk about shooting himself will never get old.
Funny, sad, surreal--it's one of the most absurd stories of the past decade. On that note, some quotes from Plaxico, himself, taken from upcoming Real Sports special (via NY Post).
"I had a drink in my left hand," Burress says. "I’m just walking up the stairs. And, you know, it was dark. And I kind of, you know, missed a step. That’s when I felt my gun ... started to slide. I went to grab it ... to stop it from falling. Pow. I knew it had went off. I saw the fire, like, come through my jeans."
"I came out, you know, from my little holding cell to the arraignment, and — (chuckle) I sat down with — with Ben," Burress says. "He was like, ‘We got a problem.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Mayor just went on TV, said you should be, you know, punished to the full extent of the law.’ And you know what I said after that? I said, ‘Who is Mayor Bloomberg?’"
Yikes. That's not a fun way to get caught up to speed on city politics.
A Review Of This Weekend's SEC Expansion News. Spencer Hall's rundown of the Texas A&M situation is about as good as you'll find anywhere, but if you're looking to explain the weekend's events to a child, there's nothing better than this cartoon.
Germans: The Butt Of The Poop Joke. Michael Lewis' latest feature in Vanity Fair focuses on the strange dichotomy underpinning recent economic history in Germany—namely, how the country that fell hardest for the U.S. subprime craze is the same one with healthiest economy in Europe and functional control over the financial future of the E.U. It was well-written enough to keep me reading 20,000 words about the world of German finance, but if nothing else, check it out for Lewis most shocking conclusion. Germany is
kinda sorta totally obsessed with poop.
There’s a popular German folk character called der Dukatenscheisser ("The Money Shitter"), who is commonly depicted crapping coins from his rear end. Europe’s only museum devoted exclusively to toilets was built in Munich. The German word for "shit" performs a vast number of bizarre linguistic duties—for instance, a common German term of endearment was once "my little shit bag." The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a "Purgation-Calendar." Then there are the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings: "As the fish lives in water, so does the shit stick to the asshole!," to select but one of the seemingly endless examples.
There's much more, including Hitler's weirdest fetish, Martin Luther's Reformation (that began on the toilet), and Mozart, whose "indulgence in fecal imagery may be virtually unmatched." It's all kind of amazing, and no, I'll never be able to look at Dirk Nowitzki the same way.
The Best Review Of Watch The Throne. I was on vacation last week and never got the chance to write about Jay-Z and Kanye's new album, but that's probably for the best, because there's no way I could have topped this track-by-track breakdown by Fake Ghostface.
Come for his thoughts on 'Lift Off' ("This s**t is like Shia LeBeouf in song form yo.") and stay for his thoughts on 'Made In America' ("This s**t sounds like two n****s hang glidin over the ocean together at sunset holdin hands son. I think this is bout to be on Yung Berg's yoga playlist.")
Finally, Take Ten Minutes Watch Dennis Rodman's Hall Of Fame Speech. Think back to everything that epitomized Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech a few years ago—arrogant, uncomfortable, classless—and then go ahead and picture the exact opposite. That's how Dennis Rodman went into the Basketball Hall of Fame this past weekend.
You can watch the full video (with his intro) here, and elsewhere, Kelly Dwyer dispels some popular myths about Rodman, and SLAM uncovers a 15 year-old story on Rodman's relationship with Pearl Jam. But if you're going to read anything, this retrospective from Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver puts this weekend in perspective just about perfectly, and gives one of the more indelible athletes of this generation the treatment he deserves. LONG LIVE THE WORM.
(photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)