When the Jets traded for Brett Favre it was hard for them to deny that the deal was made for reasons beyond the football field. He was a very popular player with a brand name, and the Jets were trying to sell PSLs to a stadium and needed to convince fans that they were committed to putting a winning product on the field. They sold a lot of jerseys, but the economy hurt the PSLs even before Favre torpedoed the season in a hail of interceptions.
With Favre gone, they still need to sell tickets and still need to sell the idea that they're grabbing for the brass ring. The NFL is a quarterback's league on the field, but it is even more of one off the field. Quarterbacks sell cars, they sell soda and, as mentioned, they sell tickets. Enter Mark Sanchez.
Sanchez's jersey was the hottest seller on NFLShop.com over the weekend, according to Neil Best of Newsday, and you can already hear the Jets' marketing department coming up with ways to reach out to the Hispanic market in New York City. There's never been much overlap between the NFL and that market, but you'd have to be an idiot to not see the appeal that a young Latino quarterback might have in a city as diverse as New York.
The Jets, via executive VP of business operations Matt Higgins, deny that there was a thought about anything other than football.
"People have a hard time believing it, but one really has nothing to do with the other," he said. "The business doesn't influence the decisions. Winning will take care of the rest."
Go figure, people have a hard time believing that a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars would be interested in making decisions to benefit the business. The Jets need not be embarrassed about that. The Favre move was embarrassing, a cynical move to buy the last few months of a career that belonged to other people, but trading for Sanchez is all about the future.
Higgins is right about winning, though. All of this assumes that Sanchez and the Jets win games, because if they don't it will be easier to market honeymoons in Cleveland than the New York Jets.