The Mark Sanchez era in New York has come to a close. The Jets released the quarterback Friday after a turbulent five-season run that included four playoff wins, too many turnovers, a controversial shoulder injury, and of course, a butt fumble.
Let's take a look back at the erstwhile Sanchize's rise and fall in Gotham:
April 25, 2009: The Jets send their first and second-round draft picks, plus three players to the Cleveland Browns to move up and select Sanchez with the fifth pick in the draft. Sanchez takes on the burden previously inherited by the likes of Chad Pennington, Ken O'Brien, Browning Nagle and Richard Todd: Joe Namath's Rightful Successor.
Sept. 13, 2009: To the surprise of no one, Sanchez beats out Kellen Clemens for the starting job. Things start out beautifully: After a pregame pep talk from the aforementioned Broadway Joe, Sanchez throws for 272 yards and a touchdown in a 24-7 road win over the Houston Texans. Fan confidence level in the Sanchez era hovers somewhere near 812 percent.
Oct. 18, 2009: Jets fans (and Rex Ryan) get their first glimpse at Sanchez's propensity for destructive behavior. He throws five interceptions in an ugly 16-13 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills at the Meadowlands. The Jets lost on a day they had 318 yards rushing, including 210 from Thomas Jones.
"I don't know if I could play any worse," Sanchez said after the game.
Hold tight ...
Oct. 25, 2009: CBS cameras catch Sanchez wolfing down a hot dog on the sideline late in a 38-0 win over the Oakland Raiders. This innocent, albeit unusual, act leads to a solid rogering from the local and national media. The episode proved two things: 1) Playing under the New York spotlight presents unique challenges, and 2) The media can sometimes be insane.
Jan. 24, 2010: The Jets are knocked off by the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. This comes after Sanchez helped lead the Jets to back-to-back playoff wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers. The loss to Peyton Manning and Co. hurts, but the future seems bright for Sanchez.
August 2010: Sanchez and the Jets appear on the sixth season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" series. The season represents the award-winning series at its zenith, and Sanchez comes off as the goofy and charismatic golden boy of the organization. If our memory serves us, Mark Brunell warns Sanchez to stay away from his daughter during one quarterback meeting. Good times.
Jan. 16, 2011: Speaking of zeniths, the Ryan/Sanchez combo reaches its unquestionable high point in a road win over the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs. Sanchez badly outplays Tom Brady, throwing for three touchdowns without a turnover. Sanchez now has four road playoff wins in two seasons.
"He's just now getting better and better and better," Ryan said.
Jan. 23, 2011: Sanchez and the Jets fall short in the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive year. After a slow start, Sanchez catches fire in the second half, nearly leading the Jets all the way back from a huge halftime deficit. Still plenty of reason for optimism in Florham Park.
March 9, 2012: After getting a hard no from the Peyton Manning camp, the Jets turned around and give Sanchez a rich contract extension. This despite the fact that Sanchez was coming off a 26-turnover third season and was under contract for two more years. The extension was head-scratching, but not at the level of what happened next ...
March, 21, 2012: That would be this. Here was a personnel disaster of historic proportions that poisoned everyone it touched. Sanchez handled the situation with grace, and Tim Tebow never threatened his starting role. But cracks in the relationship between QB and team were now on clear display.
Nov. 22, 2012: The Butt Fumble. However unfair it may seem, this is how Sanchez's Jets career will be remembered: A helmet-to-ass collision with guard Brandon Moore during a 49-19 loss to the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night. This is arguably the lowest moment in franchise history, period.
Aug. 24, 2013: The Snoopy Bowl loses its innocence. Sanchez suffers a right shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants. The Jets downplay the injury for weeks, but the quarterback is headed for season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum. Ryan is roundly criticized for playing his likely Week 1 quarterback behind an offensive line of future truck drivers and cable delivery men.
March 21, 2014: Sanchez is released after the Jets acquire Michael Vick. Sanchez's final numbers with the Jets: 62 games (all starts), 33-29 record, 55.1 percent completion percentage, 12,092 yards, 68 touchdowns, 69 interceptions, 71.7 passer rating. What a long and strange trip it was.