Nearly a year after getting cut by the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback for the 7-2 Philadelphia Eagles.
Jenny Vrentas of MMQB wrote an article about Sanchez’s comeback, and it gives you an idea of just how far he has come in 10 months.
According to Vrentas, Sanchez’s friend and trainer Todd Norman held an “intervention” for Sanchez at a restaurant in Orange County in January. He told Sanchez he had one chance to save his career, and he needed to get it together if he wanted to keep playing football.
“He was weak and out of shape after missing the 2013 season with a torn labrum, and he fully expected to be released by New York. He was at a crossroads, and Norman wanted to make sure Sanchez understood the stakes of his impending free agency.
“‘I told him, ‘Look, you might get one more opportunity,”‘ Norman says.’This was a defining offseason for him. This was a situation where you either break through or go downhill from here. And I tell you what, I’ve seen him go through so much stuff in his career, I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted to quit football.'”
Norman says he told Sanchez he needed to clean up his appearance as well:
“He’s going to kill me for saying this, but when we had that first meeting, I told him he needed to shave his beard and cut his hair. I said, ‘Hey, you need to look like a professional, and right now you don’t look like a starting quarterback in the NFL.’ Mark is a good-looking guy, and he just didn’t look like he was keeping himself together. To me, that was part of his rebirth. Making a complete change, even in his appearance.”
While he sat out the 2013 season with an injury, Sanchez grew out his hair, even sporting cornrows at one point:
He listened to Norman, showing up to his first Eagles press conference like this:
The rate of turnover on NFL rosters is incredibly high. Even top draft picks like Sanchez — who was taken No. 5 in 2009 — can find themselves out of the league once they lose their starting jobs. Josh Freeman, the ex-Bucs QB who was taken 12 picks after Sanchez in 2009, is already out of football after losing his job in Tampa and then failing when he got a second chance in Minnesota.
Sanchez, unlike Freeman, has made the most of his second chance.
He signed with the Eagles in March. He blew everyone away in preseason, beating out Matt Barkley for the backup quarterback job. He played so well in preseason that there were rumours that other teams would trade for him to be their starter before Week 1.
When Nick Foles went down with an injury in Week 10, the widespread assumption in Philly was that they’d be totally fine with Sanchez. In Week 11 against the Panthers, in his first start since 2012, Sanchez threw for 300 yards without an interception for the first time in his career.
Sanchez is a free agent after this season. Even if the Eagles opt to go back to Nick Foles, he has played well enough to assure him a job elsewhere, as a backup at the very least — which is saying something considering where his career was 10 months ago.
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