Namath defends Sanchez, doesn't want Jets upset with him

NEW YORK -- Joe Namath had just watched a film about a young quarterback who threw too many interceptions, then learned to trust his teammates and led them to a championship.

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He believes someday the same story could be told about Mark Sanchez.

Namath saw the new HBO documentary about his life for the first time at a screening Wednesday night in Manhattan. Images of the glamorous Hall of Fame signal-caller leading the New York Jets to a Super Bowl title in "Namath," which premieres Saturday, inevitably lead to questions about if the current photogenic starter at that position finally can lead the franchise back to glory.

"He's going to learn from his mistakes," Namath said. "He needs the help around him. He presses at times. He wants to do things because he's expected to. They get the people around him, he's going to be fine."

Just look at the city's other quarterback, Eli Manning, Namath said. (He's rooting for the Giants in the Super Bowl, by the way.)

Namath has been vocal in his criticism of the Jets' leadership at times in recent years and makes clear that's where his concern lies -- not with Sanchez.

"I feel awful about my relationship with the Jets right now," he said. "I don't want them upset with Joe, but dammit, I have to say what I see ... I think we can do some things better."

Namath won't say Sanchez needs to be a better leader because he doesn't believe a quarterback can boss around those big linemen.

"I didn't push any kind of leadership," Namath said. "Lead by example as a football player, as the quarterback: to know the plan frontwards, backwards; be able to answer; know my guys; convince them I was ready and would give it my best. But no taking over a locker room. You have to have someone with the strength of the guy over in Baltimore -- maybe Ray Lewis -- you've got to be a beast to do that kind of thing, man."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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