The case of the Mark Sanchez nightshirt

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Mark Travis John Sanchez? Mark? It’s Lola, from Arizona … home of the Cardinals. Are you still celebrating your big victoria against the Chargers? I’m not supposed to root for the Jets, as we have a family policy of sticking to our respective teams for the entire season rain or shine.

Your team is my sister’s team, and she’s my archrival in fantasy football, and I’m 100-percent Cardinals. Yeah, I know; the Cards are history. But eventually, they’ll reemerge from their ashes.

No, wait. Wrong bird; that’s the Phoenix.

You get the point. I couldn’t resist calling to tell you that your completed 12 passes, 100 yards, one touchdown, and one interception versus the Chargers was totally, totally AWESOME. By now you’ve probably heard people comparing you to Joe Namath, a big compliment for any professional football player, I’m sure.

I don’t want to burst your bubble, amigo, but I’m really calling to give you my two centavos. Your situation worries me. A lot, actually. You are young, talented, muy guapo, charismatic, and I’m afraid all this will … um, how should I put it?

That all this will go to your head and that somehow you’ll fall victim to your youth and fame or perhaps make a mistake, and that you won’t be able to fulfill your fans’ and the NFL’s franchise expectations. If memory serves me correctly, in 2006 you already had a “close encounter” with a potentially career-ending, brand-damaging, name-tarnishing moment. I’m referring to your arrest for ALLEGEDLY sexually assaulting a USC student. I DO know that charges were never filed due to a “lack of sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.”

I hate to bring this up in what I’m assuming is an otherwise joyous time in your career, and I’m glad you have what seems to be a very nice and supportive  family: a firefighter dad, a lawyer brother; but I’m afraid the media and your fans are so tempted to make you the next big thing in NFL history.

You should have heard my sister after listening to Jets head coach Rex Ryan ofter the game.

Get this: She thinks that it’s no coincidence that Ryan is the sixth rookie head coach to win two playoff games in the Super Bowl era. My sister thinks you are his lucky charm, because that’s your jersey, No. 6 – a replica of which she uses as a nightshirt. Quite troubling if you ask me.  Why is a grown woman sleeping in a Mark Sanchez Jets’ jersey?

Yeah, I laughed … you would, too, if you heard her talk. I just think people like her are so hungry for superstars, especially those with real or perceived underdog status. They remind me so much of Fox Mulder from The X-Files and the poster adorning his office, “I Want to Believe.”

Don’t get me wrong; I WANT TO BELIEVE, too! Sometimes. I know you ARE talented, all right. I just want you to focus on your thing, your game.

Because, you know what? There’s a term for what they are doing to you.  It’s called HEROIFICATION. Although James Loewen uses the term in his book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong to refer to historical figures and particularly how they’ve been portrayed in textbooks, the term easily applies to pop culture as well. When race and social class add to the story, it becomes even more pervasive, because it sells. Just ask Julio César Chávez, El Toro Valenzuela, The Golden Boy Oscar de la Hoya – isn’t he a singer now?

But I digress. Congrats on a job well done; keep it up and please don’t become another would-be great athlete, or a great athlete but a womanizer. Unlike what you’ve seen on TV or heard in the locker room, you can never buy a woman’s heart with a big-ass diamond ring. Just ask Tiger.

Oh, and one last thing: I think it’s great that you eat hotdogs whenever you want to … what’s the big deal? I’m telling you, apparently heroes don’t eat hotdogs.

Un beso – a motherly beso, OK?

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