The questions came quickly during the teleconference. Folks asked about Sanchez's connection with Mexican fans. About his playing in New York, a city with a large Hispanic population. Sanchez laughed when asked about his favorite food.
"My mother makes chorizo for breakfast a lot," he said. "She also makes very good enchiladas."
It was a perfect performance, only it wasn't a performance. Sanchez was at ease with the questions because that's who he is.
"He was perfect," said Juan Carlos Vazquez Ruiz, NFL play-by-play man for Mexico's TV Azteca. "He is Mexican."
For New York Jets fans, Sanchez is the savior, the rookie quarterback charged with leading the team to the playoffs and beyond. They want him to be a latter-day Broadway Joe Namath, tearing it up on the field and dazzling the city at night. They see Sanchez in GQ magazine and watch him lead their favorite team to early victories and can't help but flash back to Namath and Super Bowl III. For them, Sanchez is a dream, the player who can do the most to produce a championship.
A few thousand miles to the south, Sanchez is even more. To a country still cultivating its passion for the NFL, Sanchez is a link to the league they have never had before. He is a full-fledged Mexican-American quarterback, whose grandparents came to the United States and built a life.
List of Hispanic players growing
Ken Amato, LS, Tennessee
Greg Camarillo, WR, Miami
Jonathan Casillas, LB, New Orleans
Luis Castillo, DE, San Diego
Shaun Cody, OT, Houston
Willie Colon, OT, Pittsburgh
Brian De La Puente, G, Seattle
Roberto Garza, C, Chicago
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta
Joselio Hanson, CB, Philadelphia
Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Chicago
Glenn Martinez, WR, Houston
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver
Manny Ramirez, G, Detroit
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas
Daniel Sepulveda, P, Pittsburgh
Anthony Toribio, DT, Green Bay
Mario Urruita, WR, Tampa Bay
Jose Valdez, OT, Atlanta
Louis Vasquez, G, San Diego
"I think it is an honor to play in a country where I can celebrate my [Mexican] heritage," Sanchez said. "When I have a chance to play on TV and have a chance to represent Mexican fans, I want to represent them well."
Though he was born in Southern California, Sanchez is a third-generation Mexican-American, and when he arrived at USC in 2005, he began to attract a lot of attention. It's one thing to have Mexican roots in Orange County and quite another in Los Angeles, where there are 4.6 million Latinos, about 3 million of whom are of Mexican descent. By the time Sanchez became the Trojans' starting quarterback, in '08, he was not just the triggerman at one of the nation's top football programs. He also was a source of pride for the local Mexican community -- and even Mexico itself.
That self-esteem swelled last November, when Sanchez wore a mouthpiece -- given to him by team dentist Dr. Ramon Roges -- decorated with the three colors (red, green and white) of the Mexican flag. Even though Sanchez received some negative feedback from people who were offended that he demonstrated a commitment to his heritage, he was undaunted. That further endeared him to the Mexican community.
Sanchez isn't just mouthing platitudes. He does want to play in Azteca Stadium. He wants to be part of the community in New York, although it's too early in his career for him to have charted a definitive course of action.
"Being active in the community is important to him," NFL spokeswoman Darlene Capiro said.
Sanchez proved that while at USC. He distributed school supplies to needy children in East Los Angeles and joined mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a "Day of Service," where he met at-risk teenage boys. Sanchez worked hard to learn Spanish, the better to converse with Hispanics here in the United States and Mexicans south of the border.
"It's important for me to identify with the fans and let them know how much I appreciate their support," Sanchez said. "I want to set the right example. I did that in college, and I want to continue that.
"I want to reinforce that message in an area [New York], where there is a high population of Mexican-Americans. I want to let them know I care about them."
They already care about him. Vazquez Ruiz reports when TV Azteca broadcast the Jets' season opener against the Houston Texans, ratings soared "20 percent when compared to the past seven years." When the Jets are on again, Nov. 1 against the Miami Dolphins, Vazquez Ruiz predicts another 20 percent boom. And if the NFL wants to boost apparel sales, it will start shipping Sanchez jerseys to Mexico. Now.
And why not? After all, he is Mexican and proud of it.