April 30, 2009
By Toni Monkovic
Why did the Jets trade picks and players for Mark Sanchez?
Answer No. 1: Because they believed it gave them the best chance to win a Super Bowl.
Answer No. 2: Because they believed it gave them the best chance to win a Super Bowl and, at the same time, gave them a marketable star who could win new fans, energize existing ones and help sell personal seat licenses in tough economic times.
You might think that, in terms of football, there’s not much difference between Answers No. 1 and No. 2. As long as the first criterion is met, no problem.
And you might be right. But consider: If a team truly wants to win a Super Bowl, should it let marketing even enter the discussion? Because if you allow it into the conversation, can you really be unbiased in evaluating a player? And if your focus is diverted by even a sliver, how are you going to succeed in the ultra-competitive caldron that is the N.F.L.? (Can you picture, in your wildest imaginings, that Bill Belichick, the guy who wears tattered hoodies, is distracted by image and marketing?)
The Jets have plenty of reasons to see dollar signs. Coach Rex Ryan joked that Sanchez was so good-looking that he’d try not to sit too close to him for the team picture. Then there’s his appeal to an untapped market.
According to Hispanic Market Weekly:
Where Sánchez ends up could be a game-changer for a team in need of wins. At the same time, the team that signs Sánchez could end up with a bonus asset. Sánchez is viewed as highly admired Latino athlete with a huge Hispanic fan base. This could spur a team to launch a marketing plan specifically designed to convert Sánchez fans into aficionados of his forthcoming team.
Let’s be realistic: Who’s going to sell more seats, Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens?
Woody Johnson has already stated that the organization was preoccupied last year because of building a new stadium and a new practice facility. Acquiring Brett Favre and shedding Chad Pennington had the feel of an unholy intermingling of football and commerce (and we all know how that turned out).
The Sanchez move seems to have a greater chance of success, but Jets fans who want to be skeptical have earned that right. One of our commenting regulars, Walt Bennett, a longtime Jets fans, said not long after the draft:
The Jets will have committed a lot of money by the time this contract is secured, and will have anointed the “Face of The Franchise” tag on an untested rookie.
It really is quite fair to ask, was this move made to make a splash on the back page? To sell PSLs? (ESPN made that exact suggestion within seconds of the pick.)
Source: New York Times