Many of you who visit this blog and live in the New York Metro area are probably too young to remember Joe Namath. At one time, Joe Namath was the biggest sports star in New York. You couldn't get away from this guy.
I never really saw what the fuss was about. I had zero interest in football, and while I was in early puberty by the time Namath hit the NFL, I never understood why any woman thought he was sexy, in much the same way I never understood why women thought John Travolta was sexy. Both had the same kind of heavy-featured Neanderthalism that has always struck me as extremely unattractive. From what I understand, and perhaps Jets fans will want to weigh in via comments, Namath's career was one of stellar moments more than consistent play. But Namath had the kind of cockiness, and more importantly, media presence that makes for stardom in New York. Other than the Yankees' Derek Jeter, who is a marketing agent's dream in that he is handsome and charismatic and has the on-fields goods to back it up, while still appearing humble -- the kind of boy you'd want your daughter to bring home; New York hasn't had a sports star of his ilk since.
Tom Seaver was a huge star in New York, but especially in the pre-cable era, baseball never transcended region the way football does. Reggie Jackson was a huge star, but he was never Namath. Because Namath was everywhere:
(Yes, that is a pre-Charlie's Angels
Farrah Fawcett in the last one.)
After yesterday, which saw Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez looking pitiful in the first half only to come back and make Tom Brady the All-American Boy look even more pitiful in the second, a skeptical New York sports audience that has been waiting a long time for its next Big Football Star may not be ready to believe yet, but you can bet the marketers are watching. Because whether it's fair or not, it's never the wide receiver who gets the glory, it's always the quarterback. And if the Jets continue to play the way they have been, Mark Sanchez will be the new face of New York sports and quite possibly the NFL. And why not? I mean, LOOK at him for crissakes:
This is a country in which Latinos count for half the growth in population in the last nine years
. You'd have to be an idiot to think that "illegal immigrants" isn't a general code for Latino as much as it is concern over the "non-entitled" getting a piece of the dwindling American pie. About one in seven New Yorkers is Latino
. In 2050, nearly one in three Americans nationwide will be Latino. Mark Sanchez is coming along at the beginning of a wave that demographically speaking is going to change the nature of this country dramatically by 2050. If he's smart, he'll be able to channel his looks and his on-field performance to transcend at least some of the fear and loathing of this Latino population growth reality that so frightens people like Rep. Joe Wilson and the teabaggers who agree with him.
But hey, no pressure, kid.
Labels: football, Latinos