Sanchez walks into the locker room, and all of the molecules zip in his direction. As the scrum gathers, one of the Jets defensive stars, Antonio Cromartie, mock-serenades the reporters from across the room: “Hey, Mark, is it a competition between you and Tebow? Come on, Mark!”
The Jets PR staff handles today’s Sanchez-Tebow locker-room theatrics with perfect synchronicity. The two QBs do not overlap. Moments after Sanchez heads out, Tebow waltzes in. The charitable interpretation here is that the Jets are simply being helpful, sparing reporters from having to make a Sophie’s Choice about which guy to get quotes from. Less kind, but probably no less true, is that they do it to protect Sanchez from the humiliation of having to watch a far bigger crowd gather around his backup. (And there is no question that’s what would’ve happened.)
This is all deeply unfair to Sanchez, and even though it’s not Tebow’s fault, it represents a major obstacle in my quest to like him. In just three seasons as a pro, Sanchez has twice led the Jets to the AFC title game, and unlike Tebow, he has never been blown out in the postseason. Yet all the intangibles that Tebow is said to possess in spades—confidence, the capacity to lead and motivate—Sanchez is said to lack. This part, at least, isn’t unreasonable. At times, Sanchez can seem riven by self-doubt. Whereas Tebow inspires belief, something about Sanchez inspires skepticism, even though (and this is the key thing, or at least you’d think it would be) the actual results are almost always better with Sanchez.
And yet here is Sanchez exiting stage right so that Tebow can have the floor. This is probably more unfairness. Maybe Tebow was made to wait so that Sanchez could go first. But you’d be a fool to believe no one on the Jets put any thought into it.
No matter: It’s almost Tebow Time.