The most successful sports operation in the country – also known as the National Football League – will tighten its grip on the American landscape much the same way politicians grip power. Sunday August 5th marks the start of the pre-season. Fighting is futile; just ask wives, girlfriends and significant others. Bars love it. TV networks and commercial sponsors love it. Bookies really love it. For reasons only understood by millions of faithful fans, Sundays will soon deliver euphoria in the form of collisions, catches, touchdowns and eye-defying plays. In 2012, there is no shortage of story-lines among Latino NFLers that will keep millions captivated come game-time.
The Two-Headed Monster
Mark Sanchez, Quarterback – New York Jets
Many of the greatest athletes have wilted in the cauldron known as New York City. The pressure in the world’s premier market notwithstanding, add to it playing the most important position in professional football. Since being selected sixth overall by the Jets in 2009, Sanchez, a third generation Mexican-American, responded by leading the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship appearances in 2009 (rookie year) and 2010, all while winning an improbable four playoff road games. The 2011 season was the first time the Jets missed the playoffs since the Sanchez era began, amid a sea of team turmoil that bordered on rivaling Jersey Shore and Basketball Wives for “best reality show” honors. The response? The organization added back-up QB Tim Tebow in the off-season, under the guise of implementing a wild-cat offense. Or one could view it as grooming Sanchez’s replacement. Regardless, the 6’2″, 225 pound Sanchez will be under greater scrutiny than ever, especially if the Jets struggle out of the gate. By most media accounts, he has repaired a seemingly fractured relationship with star receiver Santonio Holmes and has no plans to relinquish the starting QB job. If you see him in less GQ-like spreads this season, it’s because Sanchez knows only one thing matters in New York: winning.