This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it’s over
Just hear this and then I’ll go
You gave me more to live for
More than you’ll ever know
The Jets released The Sanchise last week, bringing an inevitable end to one of the most fascinating and tumultuous eras in Jets history. While it’s long been clear that Mark Sanchez would never be an effective quarterback for the Jets again, I’m still grappling with nostalgia and sadness at his departure.
Because even though Sanchez became a joke by the end of his Jets tenure, he still presided over — by far — the best time in my life to be a Jets fan. And if you were born after 1969, this was the best time in anyone’s life to be a Jets fan.
This is our last embrace
Must I dream and always see your face?
Why can’t we overcome this wall?
Baby, maybe its just because I didn’t know you at all
There was a time, not that long ago, when Sanchez and Joe Flacco were thought of as quarterbacks on a similar level. They were effective “game managers”, who — if they played intelligently — could help their teams win games by not screwing up what the defense and running games accomplished. They were both capable of awful games and decisions, but both also held the potential for something more, a promise that they might rise to the next level and become legitimately good quarterbacks.
Kiss me, please kiss me
But kiss me out of desire, babe, not consolation
Oh, you know it makes me so angry
‘Cause I know that in time, I’ll only make you cry
This is our last goodbye
Everyone knows what happened next. Sanchez seemed to forget how to play football entirely, his confidence shot by a deteriorating group of skill players on offense and by Tim Tebow’s nefarious, superfluous presence. Meanwhile, Flacco had the month of his life, leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl win and sparking pointless, ad nauseam discussion about whether he had become “elite.”
Gone were the back-to-back AFC championship game appearances. Gone was the playoff game in which he outplayed everybody’s All-American, Tom Brady. Gone were the times when we thought those championship games were just the beginning, a sign of even greater things to come. In their place were just a pile of interceptions and sad faces peeking out from under a headband.
Did you say, “No, this can’t happen to me”
Did you rush to the phone to call
Was there a voice unkind in the back of your mind
Saying maybe you didn’t know him at all
You didn’t know him at all, oh oh, ya didn’t know
Ooo didn’t know
The Jets’ collapse was not Mark Sanchez’s fault. The blame lies largely at the feet of former GM Mike Tannenbaum. During the Jets strong run of 2009-11, Tannenbaum partially sold out the future to win in the present. Then, when the bill came due, he handled it about as badly as it could be handled — refusing to either rebuild or reload, but rather allowing a slow, painful decline into mediocrity. He botched the Darrelle Revis situation, he loaded up on veterans and aging stars with nothing left to give, and he even let the core of the team (the defense and the offensive line) atrophy. Also, Tebow.
The Jet’s quarterback history is a frightful saga in the post-Namath era. Browning Nagle begat Neil O’Donnell who begat Ray Lucas who begat Brooks Bollinger who begat Bret Fucking Favre. Sanchez seemed to offer an escape from that cycle of abuse. Even when it soon became apparent that, in spite of his celebrity girlfriends and man-about-town reputation, he would never become Football Derek Jeter, still there was hope in his pretty brown eyes.
Well, the bells out in the church tower chime
Burning clues into this heart of mine
Thinking so hard on her soft eyes
And the memories, offer signs that it’s over
Maybe Geno Smith will turn into something…probably not.
Maybe Michael Vick will turn back the clock and find a way to be something more than another high profile, Tebowian gimmick signing…nope.
Much more likely is that the Jets are headed back into another Quarterback Dark Age, as fans pass the years watching retreads and nobodies and Bubby Bristers, waiting for another light pointing the way out of this Minotaur cave. Sanchez wasn’t the way out, but it sure got a little brighter in the cave for a couple years.
At least he’ll still be wearing green.