A lesson to be learned from Sanchez 

March, 24, 2014
As the USC Trojans resume spring practice on Tuesday and the quarterback competition starts to heat up between incumbent junior Cody Kessler and redshirt freshman Max Browne, a rather cold dose of future reality was dumped on the back burner of both competitors.

On Friday, former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez was released by the New York Jets, and it should be a reminder to not only Kessler and Browne but all collegiate quarterbacks to enjoy life in college and don’t be in such a Manhattan rush to enter the NFL.

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Debby Wong/USA TODAY SportsFormer USC quarterback Mark Sanchez spent five seasons with the Jets.
The last time I saw Mark Sanchez, who decided to forgo his final season of eligibility at USC to enter the NFL, was a few years ago, and by coincidence it was in New York City. It was vacation time in June and going to the Big Apple has always been a delightful pleasure, especially when I can have a Carnegie’s corned beef sandwich on a Kaiser roll, a side of potato salad and a large slice of strawberry shortcake.

Staying in Midtown, not far from Central Park, my girlfriend and I wanted to see a second Broadway play during our week’s stay. After some negotiating, we went to the box office of the Helen Hayes Theatre to see what was available for "Rock of Ages."

After some further “negotiations” with the box office attendant, we spent a little extra and were seated center section about 13 rows from the stage. As the loud and resounding commencement of electric guitars, theatrical prehistoric hippies, and high-energy entertainment began, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder from a patron seated directly behind me. As I turned backward I was startled to see it was Sanchez, the starting quarterback of the Jets.

Having watched Sanchez at Mission Viejo (Calif.) High and then covering him at the University of Southern California, he looked so happy and excited to see a familiar SoCal guy in his presence. When my sports-loving companion immediately recognized Sanchez, I had to immediately put my right index finger to my lips to non-verbally implore her not to scream out, “Mark Sanchez!” The last thing we all needed was two performances going on at the same time -- a prolific musical performance and a simultaneous mad dash to get an autograph from Sanchez.

Intermission finally came and Sanchez was as down to earth as ever. He was perfect for all that New York City has to offer, especially when the Jets were showing so much promise. Sanchez introduced us to some friends who had flown in from his hometown in the Orange County area, and he seemed so at peace in this frenzied environment.

He couldn't stop saying how much he loved playing in New York and that he was a real Broadway aficionado. He rambled off a number of plays and musicals he had seen and looked forward to seeing what new production was about to make its debut. Sanchez loved the culture of the whole area, and he hoped he could play in the toughest sports town forever.

Following the conclusion of the show, we all walked out together and Sanchez wanted to leave before autograph seekers and well-wishers besieged him. He wasn’t being arrogant or aloof; he just wanted to spend a normal night out with his friends before heading back to his New Jersey residence.