On How Mark Sanchez Is Kinda Like Barack Obama

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann revealed in "Game Change" that Democratic leaders like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer secretly rooted for then-Senator Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton even while they publicly supported Clinton in the lead-up to the 2008 primaries.

When the New York Jets play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, I wonder if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will root for upstart Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez over veteran Colts quarterback Peyton Manning the way Democratic leaders secretly cheered on Obama. Manning is a lot like Clinton. He, like her, is respected more for his record of accomplishments than for his ability to viscerally connect with or fire up people. He's establishment. He calls a lot of audibles. He doesn't brim with charisma and never seems comfortable under the klieg lights even though he is unquestionably one of the league's marquee faces.

Sanchez, on the other hand, is like Obama on the campaign trail. He's a raw upstart, but he has an uncanny ability to inspire and lead. His teammates want to follow him. He embraces the spotlight and is at ease under it. He's poised and is confident without being cocky.

His marketing potential and reach dwarfs Manning's. And while commentators such as Rush Limbaugh have gotten in trouble for saying what I am about to suggest, that the NFL wants--needs--Sanchez to succeed even more because he's a Mexican-American who embraces his heritage. The NFL has had trouble attracting fans from America's fastest growing minority group, so NFL executives were probably joyous beyond belief at the future when the Jets drafted Sanchez. Surely, the Jets have often won in spite of Sanchez's rookie mistakes.

But fair or not, the NFL is a quarterback's league because quarterbacks become the faces of their franchises. If Sanchez defeats Manning, the future the NFL could only dream of becomes the present, for Sanchez will become one of the marquee faces of the league, having a starring role in arguably the world's biggest showcase sporting event while playing for a team in the nation's media capital. He'll be the NFL's perfect pitch man and ambassador. Goodell must publicly stay neutral, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if, for the NFL's sake, he is secretly chanting "¡Viva Sanchez!" or "¡Si Se Puede!" (For those who were under a rock during the 2008 campaign, that's Spanish for, "Yes we can!").

Presented by

Tony Lee contributes to The Atlantic Online. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTonyLee.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In