Mark Sanchez (born November 11, 1986 in Long Beach, California) is a Mexican-American quarterback for the New York Jets of the National Football League. He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft as the second quarterback and the fifth overall selection by the New York Jets. He played college football at the University of Southern California. Sanchez became only the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first playoff game.Early life
Sanchez was born and raised in Southern California. As a high school quarterback at Mission Viejo High School, he was named football player of the year by several major college recruiting services and was considered the top quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in 2005. He chose to attend USC, where he rose to starting quarterback his redshirt junior season. Because of his heritage, Sanchez found himself thrust into the spotlight as a symbol of Mexican-American identity and a role model for children. In his single season as the starting quarterback, Sanchez led the Trojans to a 12–1 season and No. 2 ranking in the Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the AP Poll, while capturing the 2009 Rose Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player award. After initially showing interest in staying for his final season of eligibility, he became the first USC quarterback since Todd Marinovich after the 1990 season to leave school with remaining eligibility to enter to the NFL Draft, although because of his redshirt season he had accumulated sufficient credits to graduate and left the USC campus with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
Sanchez was well regarded upon his arrival at USC. He did not play during his freshman year, and instead took a redshirt season. During this time he participated as the quarterback of USC’s scout team, earning the Trojans’ Service Team Offensive Player of the Year Award.
In April 2006, Sanchez was arrested after a female USC student accused him of sexual assault. He was released from jail the following day and suspended, but on June 3, 2006, the Los Angeles County District Attorney‘s office announced no charges would be filed, and Sanchez was reinstated, remaining subject to team-related discipline for underage drinking and using fake identification on the night he was arrested.
For the 2006 season, Sanchez competed for the starting quarterback position; however, once junior John David Booty underwent back surgery after the first day of spring practice, Sanchez ran the first-team offense during the spring as Booty recuperated. Coaches stated Booty would be regarded as the starting quarterback when he returned for fall training camp. During the 2006 season Sanchez played in 6 games completing 3 of 7 passes for 63 yards and 1 interception. He also saw playing time in USC’s games against Arizona, Michigan, and Notre Dame but he did not throw a pass.
In fall practice before USC’s 2007 season, Sanchez broke the thumb in his throwing hand, missing the first game against Idaho; he returned the following week and the redshirt sophomore again served as the primary backup to senior John David Booty. Mid-season, Sanchez was moved up to starting quarterback for the game against Arizona after Booty suffered a broken finger in his throwing hand during a 24–23 upset loss to Stanford.
On October 13, Sanchez led USC to a 20–13 victory, overcoming a shaky first half where he threw two key interceptions, allowing Arizona to tie the game going into halftime. During the second half, Sanchez completed 11 of 15 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and had a key 10-yard run for a first down, ultimately finishing the game 19 for 31 passing with 130 yards and averaged 4.2 yards a play for one touchdown, two interceptions, and was sacked three times.
With Booty still recovering, USC elected to start Sanchez for a second straight week, this time at Notre Dame; he made significant improvements, completing 21 of 38 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.
On October 27, Sanchez started for the final time in place of the injured Booty, at an away game against Oregon. The game resulted in a 24–17 defeat for USC, with Sanchez having two passes intercepted by Oregon safety Matthew Harper in the second half. The first interception led to a fourth-quarter touchdown that gave Oregon a 14 point lead; the second interception ended USC’s final chance for a comeback. He publicly accepted the blame for the loss.
The following week, against Oregon State, Booty returned as USC’s starting quarterback, with Sanchez resuming his position as Booty’s backup. Sanchez passed for 695 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions over the season. Sanchez started only three games for the Trojans in the 2007 season.
Sanchez entered spring practice after the 2008 season as the front-runner to take over the starting quarterback position, but faced strong competition from Arkansas-transfer and former Razorback starter Mitch Mustain and redshirt freshman Aaron Corp; Mustain, like Sanchez a year earlier, was the top quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in 2006. By the end of spring practice, the USC coaching staff announced that Sanchez would be the designated starting quarterback going into fall camp. During the first week of fall camp, Sanchez suffered a dislocated left kneecap while warming up for practice; trainers were able to immediately put the kneecap back into place. After missing nearly three weeks, Sanchez was cleared to play in the opener against Virginia on the final scrimmage of fall camp. Before the opener, Sanchez was contacted by USC’s previous three quarterbacks under Carroll—Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Booty—who wished him well and offered general advice.
In the opener at Virginia, Sanchez threw for a career-best 338 yards, making 26 of 35 pass attempts for three touchdowns and one interception. The Davey O’Brien Foundation named him the O’Brien Quarterback of the Week and his performance garnered early Heisman consideration. With Sanchez starting all 13 games at quarterback, the Trojans ended the season 12–1 and ranked No. 2 in the Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the AP Poll. Sanchez won the 2009 Rose Bowl Offensive MVP of the game; his 413 passing yards ranked fourth in Trojans history and were the highest since Carson Palmer threw for 425 against Notre Dame in 2002. He finished the season with 34 scoring passes, second in school history behind Matt Leinart’s 38 in 2003. Sanchez ended his redshirt junior season with 3,207 yards passing, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Mark Sanchez quarterback rating his last year attending USC was 164.4. Sanchez ended his career at the University of Southern California with 3,965 yards.
Sanchez, holding the sword of the USC drum major, salutes the fans after a victory in his final regular season game at rival UCLA.
After the Rose Bowl, Sanchez said it would be “hard” to leave USC for the NFL and “probably couldn’t do it; He also mentioned that the New York Jets were a possible to team to sign with. Though he would have entered his redshirt senior year if he had stayed. However, with the subsequent announcement that other NFL-caliber quarterbacks, such as Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy, had decided to stay in school for their junior and senior seasons respectively, rumors arose that Sanchez would use the opportunity to be one of the first two quarterbacks selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. On January 15, Sanchez announced his plans to forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2009 NFL Draft, although he continued as a USC student and finished his degree in the Spring of 2009 while preparing for the draft. During the press conference, Carroll made it clear that he did not agree with Sanchez’ decision, and that he advised him of the low success-rate of quarterbacks who left the college game early to enter the NFL, and suggested he attend graduate school to use his final year of collegiate eligibility. Despite the public disagreement, the two remained close afterward. Sanchez was the first USC quarterback to turn pro before exhausting his eligibility since Todd Marinovich did so after the 1990 season.
Awards and honors
- 2004 PARADE All-American Player of the Year
- 2004 Super Prep All-American Player of the Year
- 2009 Offensive Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Rose Bowl Championship
- 2007, 2008, 2009 Rose Bowl Champion (2009 as Starting Quarterback for USC).
- 2008 Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly All-American Honorable Mention
- 2008 First Team All-Pac 10
2009 NFL Draft
After announcing his intention to leave school early to enter the 2009 NFL Draft, Sanchez selected his older brother and business litigator, Nick Sanchez, to be his agent. He was one of twelve USC players invited to the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. Going into the draft, he was ranked as one of the top two quarterbacks, behind fellow junior quarterback Matthew Stafford out of the University of Georgia. In the final days leading up to the Draft, several NFL teams began expressing serious interest in Sanchez, including the Seattle Seahawks (No. 4 pick), Cleveland Browns (No. 5), Washington Redskins (No. 13), and New York Jets (No. 17).
New York Jets
Sanchez was selected fifth overall by the Jets in the 2009 NFL Draft, making him the first quarterback selected by the Jets in the first round since Chad Pennington was picked 18th overall in 2000. In order to select Sanchez, the Jets made the biggest draft-day trade in their history to move up to the fifth selection. The pick was lauded at the time it was made as a good value for team and player.
On June 10, Sanchez signed a five-year contract with the Jets worth $50 million, with $28 million in guarantees. It is the largest contract the Jets signed with a player in franchise history. He was also the second draft pick signed from the 2009 draft.
Heading into his rookie training camp, Sanchez was listed as the #2 quarterback behind veteran Kellen Clemens. Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan noted that he viewed training camp as an open competition between the two for the eventual starting position for the 2009 season. On August 26, 2009 Sanchez was named the starter.
On September 13, 2009, Sanchez started his first regular season NFL game against the Houston Texans, throwing his first touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey. Sanchez and the Jets won the game 24–7, with Sanchez throwing for 272 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his performance in the game. He played his first home game a week later versus the New England Patriots, a 16–9 victory; it was also his first division game and his first rivalry game. It was the Jets first victory over New England at home since 2000. With a 24–17 victory over the Tennessee Titans in week 3, Sanchez became the first rookie quarterback to start and win his first three games of an NFL season. However, he had a pass picked off for a 97-yard touchdown return, and fumbled another attempted pass in his end zone for another touchdown, as the Jets fell to the New Orleans Saints in week 4. These two plays were enough to spoil an otherwise great outing from the Jets defensive unit as they dropped to 3–1 on the year.
On Thursday, December 3, 2009, Sanchez sprained his PCL in a game against the Buffalo Bills. Sanchez was then benched for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 13, 2009 as the Jets wanted to ensure Sanchez made a full recovery.
On Sunday, December 27, 2009, Sanchez led the Jets to a win against the then-undefeated Indianapolis Colts 29–15 after Colts head coach Jim Caldwell controversially rested team starters in the third quarter with only a five-point lead.
On Sunday, January 3, 2010, Sanchez led his team to the playoffs, completing just eight of sixteen passes for sixty-three yards en route to a 37–0 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, who, already having clinched the AFC North title and a playoff berth, rested starters and held back tactics. The manner of the two wins, which gave the Jets their first playoff berth since 2006, caused many to claim the team had “backed into the playoffs.”
Sanchez finished up his rookie regular season with 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
On January 9, 2010, the Jets, led by Sanchez, won the wild card game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, 24–14. Sanchez was 12 of 15 in passing and threw for 182 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. Sanchez had a 139.4 passer rating. Sanchez became only the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first post-season start, and the second to do so on the road.
The Sanchez-Palmer QB match-up in the 2010 playoff game is noteworthy for the fact that both stars are alumni not only of the same college (USC), but also of nearby Southern California high schools, Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, and Mission Viejo High School in Mission Viejo, CA.
On January 17, 2010, Sanchez, along with the help of Shonn Greene the Jets defeated the highly favored San Diego Chargers 17-14 to go the Jets’ 3rd ever AFC Championship game. Sanchez became only the second rookie quarterback to win two consecutive playoff games, after Joe Flacco.
The Jets then lost to the Colts on January 24, 2010, the AFC Championship game. The score was 30 – 17.
On February 2, 2010, Sanchez decided he would have surgery to repair a ligament in his left knee that he originally injured back when he played for USC. Sanchez had surgery on his left knee and it was successful according to Sanchez. He is expected to miss some early workouts, but will be back in time for training camp.
Sanchez is a third-generation Mexican-American. Sanchez’ great-grandfather, Nicholas Sanchez, was born in Zacatecas, Mexico; he later moved to south Texas and, in 1911, to California’s Central Valley where he and his wife worked as fruit pickers and raised a family of six children. Nicholas Sanchez settled in the Palo Verde section of Chávez Ravine, but was displaced when the government cleared the land for public housing, only to build Dodger Stadium. Another of Sanchez’ great-grandparents, Pedro Moreno of Jalisco, moved to Bisbee, Arizona and became a successful real estate investor before moving to Los Angeles with his wife and 16 children in 1925. Nicholas Sanchez’ son Jorge and Moreno’s daughter Juanita married and started a family; Jorge, a World War II veteran, was an aeronautics technician and the family lived in public housing until moving to a house in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in South Los Angeles. Jorge and Juanita’s youngest son, Nick, married Olga, one of the few Mexican-Americans in a Jewish part of East Los Angeles and had three children before divorcing when Mark Sanchez was 4; Sanchez and his brothers stayed with their dad but their mother remained involved in their upbringing and eventually moved back to the same town.
His father, Nick, is a fire captain for the Orange County Fire Authority and a member of the national urban search and rescue team. In college, Nick Sanchez played quarterback for East Los Angeles College, was later a sergeant in the United States Army. Sanchez initially grew up in Whittier and Pico Rivera; when he was six his father moved with the kids to Rancho Santa Margarita, a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood of Orange County. His father remarried and raised them under firm discipline that called on them to be leaders and communicators. Throughout his childhood and teenage years, Sanchez’ father would have him combine athletic and mental training: he would have to dribble a basketball without looking at it while reciting multiplication tables; practice baseball swings in a batting cage while answering questions about the periodic table and similar combined drills that his father hoped would develop quick thinking and self-confidence that would guide him in all avenues and not simply sports.
His two older brothers both played college football: Nick Jr. attended Yale University where he played quarterback (1992–94); Brandon attended DePauw University where he played on the offensive line. Nick Jr. went on to attend the USC Law School and is a business attorney; Brandon became a mortgage broker. When Sanchez changed high schools, the family moved to a rental house in Mission Viejo. In between seasons at USC, Sanchez worked as a sous chef at Phil Trani’s, a Long Beach restaurant.
|“Some people wanted me to be the Latino quarterback. Some people wanted me to be the USC quarterback who happens to be Latino. [I decided to] just be me and do my best with everything and not try to be something I’m not.”|
|— Mark Sanchez on the challenge of being a role model|
When Sanchez was elevated to prominence at USC, he found himself a symbol of Mexican-American identity and a role model for children. Being at USC put him in the center of the spotlight in Los Angeles, a metropolitan area populated with more than 4.6 million Latinos, three-quarters of whom are Mexican. He began getting attention from the media in Mexico. While there had been previous, successful Mexican-American quarterbacks such as Jim Plunkett, Joe Kapp, Jeff Garcia, Tony Romo, and Marc Bulger, unlike his predecessors, Sanchez was a third-generation, full-blooded Mexican-American. USC fans began playing up Sanchez’ ethnicity by wearing items such as sarapes, lucha libre masks and homemade “¡Viva Sanchez!” T-shirts. His rise to fame within the Mexican-American community was compared to that of boxer Oscar De La Hoya and baseball pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.
During his first two games as a starter in 2007, Sanchez wore a custom-made mouthpiece that featured the colors of the Mexican flag in honor of his heritage. Although little noticed during his first game against Arizona, it became a prominent issue after his nationally-televised game against Notre Dame. An item that Sanchez wore because he thought it was “cool” became a symbol for two opposing viewpoints: for Mexican-Americans, it was a symbol of solidarity—Sanchez publicly accepting his roots; for detractors, the gesture symbolized radical activism. Sanchez, who was born and raised in the U.S., reportedly received letters urging him to go back to Mexico. Sanchez himself stated, “It’s not a Mexican power thing or anything like that. It’s just a little bit of pride in our heritage. Hopefully, it inspires somebody and it’s all for the best.” Surprised by all the attention and shying away from politics, Sanchez stopped wearing the mouthpiece, but began participating in other efforts to benefit the Latino community.
Sanchez, who knew how to speak some Spanish but was not bilingual going into his junior season at USC, began taking Spanish lessons so he could do interviews with the Spanish-language media without a translator. He began speaking to high school kids from predominantly Latino Santa Ana and East Los Angeles. The USC band began to play “El Matador“, a 1993 song by the Argentine band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, when Sanchez would take the field. He participated in programs which provides school supplies to first-graders in heavily Latino areas of Long Beach and the South Bay, and joined L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in distributing holiday gifts to needy families. By the end of his USC career, he had been hailed as a significant role model for Latino youth in America.. Sanchez serves as the official Ambassador to the Inner-City Games Los Angeles, an after-school program that provides at-risk youth with positive alternatives. Sanchez was most recently seen throwing out a first pitch at a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game on behalf of the organization.