While it won’t make anyone forget Joe Namath’s victory guarantee in Super Bowl III 40 years ago, Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez had declared the team’s 2009 season opener against the Houston Texans to be a “must win.” And Gang Green came through.
Sanchez not only led the Jets to a surprisingly easy 24-7 win but showed the poise of a veteran as he kept his cool against a highly rated Texans defense. He displayed terrific clock management skills in the fourth quarter and wasn’t afraid to run the ball when needed.
Speaking before of Namath, he, along with past Jets greats like Wayne Chrebet, Marty Lyons and Curtis Martin, were at JFK’s Terminal 5 last Tuesday for a press conference to announce a partnership between their former NFL team and Forest Hills’ own JetBlue. Namath was effusive in his praise of Sanchez.
Team owner Woody Johnson was on hand as well and was quite talkative with both the press and passengers who happened to be flying JetBlue that day. When I mentioned to him that his team now had a coach (Rex Ryan) with some personality, he quickly retorted, “Yeah, finally!” It is apparent that Johnson clearly regrets hiring his first coaching choice, Eric Mangini, a man that no one would describe as the life of any party.
While Jets fans are clearly happy to start the season with a win over a credible opponent, backup Jets QB Kellen Clemens believes that perspective must be maintained. “There is a lot of ebb and flow in the course of an NFL season,” he said. “We were 8 and 3 last year and a lot of folks were ready to hand us the Lombardi Trophy,” Clemens recalled prior to their trip to Houston, referring to the trophy that goes to the Super Bowl winners.
Mets Manager Jerry Manuel was certainly happy to welcome centerfielder Carlos Beltran back to the team after he spent most of the season on the disabled list. During the last homestand I asked Manuel if he worries about Beltran reinjuring his knee on wet grass since it rains often in September. “I don’t know anything about meteorology!” Manuel said with his trademark belly laugh, quickly adding, “but I am not afraid of letting him play.”
Sure enough the outfield was quite slick in Philadelphia last Friday night, the same day the entire U.S. Open card was washed away in Flushing Meadows. Beltran was in the original lineup card but was quickly scratched by Manuel. Smart move, Jerry.
By edging out the Phillies 10-9 on Saturday, the Mets won their 63rd game this year, which ensures they won’t lose 100. That’s not exactly setting the bar high, but many fans feared their team would lose more than the century mark, given their massive injuries and the bench players’ failure to step up to the challenge.
Congratulations to Jamaica native and Molloy High School alum Peter Vecsey on his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Best known for his witty hoops column in the New York Post, as well his TNT NBA telecasts, Vecsey is also renowned for tossing barbs at all-stars, bench players — and his fellows in the media.