It was with great fanfare yesterday that Deadspin — fresh off the sensational revelations that Jets head coach Rex Ryan and wife Michelle have a background in independent filmmaking — went public with the claims of a 17 year old female who recently engaged in (ahem) SEXUAL CONGRESS with Gang Green QB Mark Sanchez, 24. Since there didn’t seem to be any allegations of boorish behavior on Sanchez’ part, and 17 is within the age of consent in the State of New York, this isn’t exactly as big a lid-blower as say, Sean Salisbury threatening to sue Gawker Media, but A.J. Daulerio’s story has an unlikely defender. Sort of. Law & order /morality maven Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk warns, “the fact that reasonable people could be reasonably interested in the story was all the more reason for Sanchez to steer clear of any 17-year-old girls.” If Sanchez was dating an 18 year old, does Florio believe Page 6 wouldn’t run a photograph?
The relationship began on New Year’s Eve, after an avalanche of negative press and other embarrassments for the franchise, including in the month of December alone the tripping incident involving former strength coach Sal Alosi and the bizarre photos and videos featuring the head coach’s wife. Sanchez, who seems like a level-headed guy, should have been able to recognize the problems that could arise from word getting out of a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. It hurts his image and marketability, and it could have created a postseason distraction for the team.
In the end, there’s really not much of a story. The full Deadspin article grasps for a narrative that would send a message deeper and more profound than “Mark Sanchez had sex with a 17-year-old girl.” In the end, that’s the only reason why folks will click the link — especially since plenty of people will instantly assume that the man who has witnessed more than a few receivers visit Revis Island could be destined for a trip to Rikers Island.
If only there was an island Florio could be sent to on account of his final sentence. But let’s consider the gist of his argument — that even if Sanchez hasn’t broken the law, the Deadspin story is a blow to his reputation and earning power. So what other high profile persons have faced accusations of doing-something-or-other with younger women — in many cases with age differences far more dramatic than that of Sanchez and his teenage friend? At last glance, Bill Clinton continues to be in hot demand on the lecture circuit, R. Kelly still headlines arenas, Jerry Seinfeld earns more money than God via syndication and stand up, and Elvis Presley, despite the protestations of Chuck D. and Flavor Flav, is still recognized around the world as the King Of Pederasts Rock’n'Roll.
To date, Brett Favre hasn’t even been removed as a Lee jeans spokesperson, despite all appearances of having been a sext-pest and an aspiring marital cheat. Not only is it the height of hysteria for Florio to argue Sanchez’ Q-rating is going to take a serious hit from this story, but the J-E-R-K-S might be missing out on a huge marketing opportunity this spring. While the Giants’ Eli Manning is no longer an eligible bachelor, Sanchez could be a suitable prom date for high schoolers of either gender. It could be a fantastic contest, and if the Woody Johnson-owned franchise needs help sifting through the entries, I know someone who might be all too willing to help out.