Five reasons no one should ever have to play Madden ’13 with Mark Sanchez

I tossed and turned in my sleep as the dream began.

Like Aaron Carter’s “hit” song, “That’s how I beat Shaq”, I too dreamt I was competing against an athlete of professional stature.  I was head-to-head against the one and only, current former New York Jets starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez.  Except, we weren’t competing on the gridiron, we were competing in the virtual world of Madden.

I’m sure my mind developed this ridiculous scenario from all the Madden commercials, where Paul Rudd is constantly beating and berating Ray Lewis, who apparently had nothing better to do in his time recovering from his torn tricep.

As the game clock approached zero, the score evened at 24 all, I selected my final play and Mark selected his.  Our eyes met in a heated deadlock, and then we simultaneously turned our focus back to the big screen.

But much like every other story ever, this one starts from the beginning.

There was a knock on the door.  I glanced around the apartment, hoping my butler would do the honors.  Even dreaming, still no butler.  I stood up, straightened my pants and walked to the doorway.  I pulled open the door without looking through the peep hole.

Mistake #1.

“I hope you’re ready,” Sanchez said as he wagged the cover of Madden ’13 between his thumb and pointer finger.

He had altered the cover of the game by gluing a picture of himself over the true cover athlete, Calvin Johnson.  I’m nearly positive the pass he was throwing in his picture would result in an interception.

He walked right in and sat down, grabbing the controller and turning on the 360.

1) He always has to be first player

Despite the fact he turned on the console, my controller showed the green quarter circle in the top left corner of the xbox logo, dubbing me, the honorable first player.

For Sanchez, this would not do.  He immediately walked up to the system and powered it off and on again.

I felt this a bit childish for a man making millions of dollars a year playing in the NFL, but then I thought, he’s used to being in charge.  He was the quarterback for the New York Jets, until the Jets named rookie Greg McElroy the starter this Sunday against the mediocre San Diego Chargers.  Maybe he’s just trying to regain a bit of control in his life.

As the home screen loaded, he told me to hang on a second.

2) He won’t play if Tebow’s on his team

He scrolled down to the ‘edit roster’ option and selected the New York Jets.  For a second, I thought he, like any gamer who felt his favorite player ranked too low, was going to change his stats to make himself better.  But, no, he selected Tim Tebow, and released his virtual likeness into free agency.

“Now I’m ready,” Sanchez declared.

I had just witnessed firsthand how much of a toll the media’s Tebow obsession had taken on Sanchez’s psyche.

He seemed more paranoid than an anxiety-prone, schizophrenic college stoner walking through a fun house with every mirror reflecting a police officer.

It’s hard to hold this behavior against Mark.  Every time he turns on ESPN, he probably hears Tebow’s name within the first ten minutes of watching and wonders if his job has been stripped away.  In my opinion, his benching in favor of McElroy was deservedly so, as in two of his last three games, he threw at least 3 interceptions and had a QBR of less than seven.  The Jets’ offense is all but anemic under his lead, and the promotion of McElroy should have occurred weeks ago, but I would never support starting Tebow above him.

The airtime to playtime ratio for Tebow is astronomical.  The guy has thrown eight passes in 15 weeks.  Kyle Orton has thrown more passes than Tim Tebow.  Where is Orton’s byline scrolling across the bottom of the screen when he wipes his nose?

Sanchez’s shoulders settle, the tension seems to have melted away with the pushing of the a button that resulted in Tim Tebow’s name disappearing from the Jets’ roster and depth chart.

He selects the ‘play now’ option and selects the New York Jets on the home side.  I move my icon to the visitor’s side and select my San Francisco 49ers.  He cringes, assumably because he and the Jets suffered a 34-0 dismantling at the hands of the 49ers in Metlife Stadium earlier in the season.

I apologize for bringing up bad memories.

“Where is your remote,” he asks.

I point to the chair next to him.  He reaches over the arm of the chair and grabs the remote.  He looks quizzically at the device, then presses a button and tosses the remote back to its original resting place.

3) He has to play with the TV on mute

I think to myself why would he mute the game, I love hearing the commentary and game sounds.

But Sanchez doesn’t.

He doesn’t like hearing constant criticisms from announcers, teammates and fans alike.  He doesn’t like the tens of thousands of boo’s after tossing yet another interception or dare I say, running into the backside of his own lineman.  He doesn’t like the questions hurled at Rex Ryan about next week’s starting quarterback and the phrase “Tebow Time” makes him sick to his stomach.

He knows what’s being said about him every game, he just doesn’t want to hear it.

I glare over at him, his face reddens, but his eyes remain locked on the screen as the introductions begin.  I turn my gaze back to the T.V. as he opts receive the ball.

The game begins.

The struggling David Akers’ boots the ball out of the back of the endzone, resulting in a touchback.

That’s when he asks the question for the first of many times, one I would grow sick of hearing relatively soon.

4)  He always asks what Rex Ryan would call

“WWRRD?,” Sanchez asks.

(What would Rex Ryan do?)

I neglect to answer, as I would have nothing polite to say about the globular, arrogant bag of wind who currently coaches the New York Jets, or his homeless brother in Dallas.

Sanchez cocks his head and looks to the corner of the room, as if trying to remember the plays on his wristband.  He keeps muttering the same 5 letters over and over again, until the play came to him.  His face lit up as his lips curled into a semi-smirk.

A halfback dive good for about maybe two feet.  The smile fades.

I snicker to myself.  Of course, Ryan would call that, anything to take the ball out of the hands of a quarterback who played the whole game and achieved a lower QBR than his backup, who threw one incomplete pass.

Although in windbag’s defense, he has stayed true to his quarterback through most of the season.  He defended Sanchez week in and week out, saying he was the guy for the NYJ.

“WWRRD,” he asked again.

The question, in comparison to his next quirk, was nothing at all.  I would have rather listened to babies crying for an hour than sit through his next sentence starter.  Let me tell you, the only thing worse than his ability to be a good NFL quarterback, is his story telling ability.

5) He constantly talks about being a quarterback at USC

“This one time, at USC…”

Oh, God.  This is what hell feels like.  He rambled on and on about Pete Carroll, winning games in the Coliseum, and life on the campus of USC.  He told me about the time ESPN did a feature on him, and paused the game while he pulled up the piece on my laptop.  We watched it twice.

I quickly grew weary of his obsession with his false idol, the USC Trojan.

“Enough,” I say.  This is the first word I had spoken to him all dream.

He turns to me as if I had just verbally attacked his family.  From then on, there was no conversation, only the constant sounds of button mashing and the occasional sniffle.

As the game clock approached zero, the score evened at 24 all, I selected my final play and Mark selected his.  Our eyes met in a heated deadlock, and then we simultaneously turned our focus back to the big screen.

Slightly embarrassed the game was this close, this late, I knew I had to win to defend what shrapnel of honor I had left.  Sanchez was on his own 30, I knew he wasn’t going to take a knee, because that’s not what Rex Ryan would do.  I knew he would pass, because he wanted to prove himself better than me.

The ball was snapped, and I sent the blitz.

He panicked, and threw it into double coverage.  Typical Sanchez.

Carlos Rodgers came away with the ball.  His second pick of the game.

As the screen rotated to show my newfound path to victory, there was one player wearing the number six, between me and the endzone.

Virtual Rodgers ran straight over Sanchez with a hard stiff arm and into the endzone.  Rob and the 49ers: 30.  Sanchez and the Jets: 24.  I look at Sanchez.  A lone tear streams down the left side of his face.  Victory.

Before I could celebrate, my eyes pop open as my iHome blasts “Wanna be” by the Spice Girls.  Stupid thing must be on shuffle.  I gather my bearings and look around the room.  No Sanchez.  No Madden ’13.  No tears.

It had all seemed so real.  I glanced at my desk.

But if it was just a dream, where did this New York Jets’ clipboard come from?…

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