Exclusive: Namath says no to Peyton, wants Sanchez

Joe Namath, left, with Mark Sanchez.
GETTY IMAGES

The Jets appear to be going after former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. But that wouldn’t be the case if the franchise’s most famous player at that position had a choice.

Joe Namath, legendary winner of Super Bowl III, wants the team to stick with the guy who was compared to Broadway Joe when he was drafted.

“These guys — the Jets — thought Sanchez was a championship quarterback. Has that suddenly changed now?” Namath told Metro New York. “I haven’t heard
that. Let them come out and say it. I haven’t heard that and I don’t
think they should.”

Namath can’t understand how a team that traded up to take Sanchez in the
2009 NFL Draft can now suddenly consider bringing in another
quarterback, even a perennial Pro Bowl player such as Manning.

“Mark’s going to be around awhile. His demeanor was angry last year with
all the things going on behind the scenes. His feelings were clearly
hurt,” Namath said. “I hope they work through all that because I’m
rooting for him. But I don’t see Peyton coming to the Jets.

Despite Sanchez posting career highs in touchdowns, yardage and completion percentage this past year, he also was sacked a career-high 39 times and his 18 interceptions were more than his second year in the league. All too often Sanchez became the scapegoat for the offensive’s struggles as he suffered from inadequate pass protection and a ground game that was sporadic at best.

Over the past 24 hours, as the speculation about Manning joining the Jets has crested, reports have surfaced about several unnamed Jets players being quoted as welcoming the former Colts quarterback to the team. This despite the fact that Sanchez has shown gradual improvement and boasts an impressive 4-2 record in the postseason. Namath looks at the total record of the young quarterback and thinks it is time to start treating Sanchez more like a veteran.

Namath has grown tired of hearing Sanchez’s teammates bash him anonymously in the papers.

“Sanchez is a grown man now; he’s not a boy. He’s played his first few years and I know myself, I’d be tired of being called ‘kid’ or ‘rookie’ or whatever,” Namath said.

“Hell, he deserved more respect then he got last year. Let me rephrase that — he deserved more respect from his teammates than he got. There was some bad vibes between him and his receivers, but Mark handled it like a true soldier. You could see though that he was emotionally hurt, but he deserves better than all that.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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