Several times over the past few days, I’ve made mention both here and on Twitter of the fact that the crowd assembled at Radio City Music Hall had a “boo” reflex whenever the name of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was mentioned. It happened twice when I was in the seating area, in connection with some sort of giveaway of some sort of trinket that bears Sanchez’s signature.
The name was uttered by the P.A. announcer, and the boos were instant and unmistakable and not simply a mixture of boos and cheers with the boos winning out. It was unequivocal booing.
Plenty of you have shrugged off the dynamic by explaining that everyone got booed, other than the members of the military who periodically took the stage. Not so. Hall of Famer Barry Sanders received a rousing and prolonged standing ovation before he announced the Lions’ second-round pick on Friday. Former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, as he prepared to announce his former team’s second-round selection on Friday, heard more Giants-fan cheers than Jets-fan jeers. Ditto for Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks, who made an appearance on Saturday.
Indeed, two other members of the Jets heard at worst a mixture of approval and rejection when they appeared on Saturday: tight end Dustin Keller and running back Shonn Greene.
Of course, the worst reception was reserved for Commissioner Roger Goodell. In what has become a bizarrely contradictory ritual at the draft, the fans collectively — and loudly — boo Goodell when enters for the first time, typically during the introduction of the draft picks who will be waiting in the green room to be selected. This happened after fans waiting in line Wednesday night for tickets to the draft clamored to meet and be photographed with Goodell — and before Friday night, when Goodell left the stage and worked through a sea of fans and well-wishers and admirers.
The ultimate point, if there is one (other than justifying the write-off of the cost of the trip to New York), is that there’s evidence Sanchez has plummeted out of favor in New York, where only a year ago he was seemingly on track to become the direct heir to Broadway Joe. From being booed with receiver Santonio Holmes at a Knicks game to being booed merely when Sanchez’s name is mentioned almost in passing, it’s going to be a very interesting season for the Jets.
Then again, pretty much every season at this point is a very interesting season for the Jets.