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Jets' legend Joe Namath gives rave review about rookie QB Mark Sanchez


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Hall of Famer and former Jets quarteback Joe Namath throws some rave reviews at current Gang Green rookie signal-caller Mark Sanchez (below).

amd_jets.jpg Keivom/News

BY Rich Cimini

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

When the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez to be their new franchise quarterback, their oldest franchise quarterback - Joe Namath - was a bit concerned.

Looking back, Namath said "the one thing that scared me" was Sanchez's lack of college experience - 16starts. He immediately recalled the ominous words of USC coach Pete Carroll, who bluntly stated Sanchez wasn't ready for the NFL.

Namath has a new opinion of Sanchez, who will start the opener Sunday in Houston: He loves the kid. The Hall of Famer was blown away by the rookie's flawless performance last week in the final preseason game. Sanchez was 5-for-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown in his only series. That it came against the Eagles' backups didn't matter to Namath.

"You hear comments from Rex (Ryan) throughout training camp and you pay some credence to that, no doubt, but that first series last week showed me some stuff I hadn't seen in a while," Namath said Tuesday at a promotional appearance, addressing the media for the first time on Sanchez.

"I hadn't seen Sanchez enough, but what I saw that night in that first series, it looks like he can do everything in terms of movement and finding receivers," he continued. "He had to change where he had to go a couple of times. He used his feet well. He impressed me big-time in that series, so I'm excited about this (season) coming up."

Namath was joined by fellow Jet greats Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet and Marty Lyons at JFK Airport, where the team announced a corporate partnership with Jet Blue Airways. Much of the buzz focused on Sanchez, the first rookie quarterback in team history to start on opening day. Not even Namath managed that; it took him until the third game in 1965.

Broadway Joe doesn't foresee a smooth ride for Sanchez, saying he's "going to get his butt kicked a few times. ...I'm concerned with his (body) holding up." But Namath believes the Jets' No. 1 pick can succeed with a little luck and a lot of support from his running game and defense.

Namath, a legendary playboy in his day, doesn't expect Sanchez to be distracted by the trappings of celebrity.

"He won't be bouncing around," said Namath, noting that he played for an owner, Sonny Werblin, who was "a show-business man" obsessed with creating stars. "The ownership is different, the game is different, society is different."

Martin, who met Sanchez last week at a team function, said he was impressed with the rookie's charisma.

"When you're starting rookies, I've always been skeptical, but there is something I like about Sanchez," Martin said. "I got to meet him, shake his hand, look in his eye. He seems like an assertive, mature guy. I'm hoping he can be what they're expecting him to be."

Martin believes the Jets will be better with Sanchez; how much, he's not sure. "I think he can cause the team to take a step forward," he said. "I don't know how many steps forward, but I do believe, if I were a betting man, he'll help them take a step forward."

Chrebet said Sanchez "seems like a perfect fit" for the Jets and the city. "He throws a nice ball, it looks like he has a great presence in the huddle and he's definitely a smart kid," Chrebet said. "He says all the right things, he does all the right things. I think New York is going to love him

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Namath looks terrible.

you try livin his life & see what you look like at that age.

well, we got 4 more days full of hope & glory. which week will the jets let us down bigtime this year?

I kinda like being ranked 4th in the dividion. nowhere to go but up. I'm rootin hard for sanchez.

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