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Will the ‘butt fumble’ follow Mark Sanchez in his post-NFL career?

New York Jets versus New England Patriots
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez reacts to the play now known as the “butt fumble” during a game against the New England Patriots on Nov. 22, 2012.
(Robert Sabo / New York Daily News via Getty Images)

Mark Sanchez is retiring from the NFL after 10 seasons, according to multiple media reports. The New York Post is reporting that he will join ABC/ESPN as a college football analyst. Maybe now he can leave the infamous “butt fumble” behind him.

Sanchez had plenty of success in his playing career, including a tremendous season as USC’s starting quarterback and back-to-back AFC championship appearances with the New York Jets. But he will always be remembered for one unfortunate play.

Sanchez played at USC from 2006 to 2008 and was the Trojans’ starting quarterback the final season. That year he passed for 3,207 yards (second-most in team history at the time) with 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions to lead USC to a 12-1 record and a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State. He passed for 413 yards with four touchdowns against the Nittany Lions and was named MVP of that game.

Sanchez entered the NFL draft in 2009 and was selected at No. 5 overall by the Jets. The man dubbed the “Sanchize” was an instant success, leading the Jets to the AFC championship in each of his first two seasons and inspiring then-coach Rex Ryan to get a tattoo of a woman (reportedly Ryan’s wife) wearing a Sanchez jersey.

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But then the bottom fell out. The team missed the playoffs the next two seasons, and Sanchez became a turnover machine, with 36 interceptions and 24 fumbles.

Of course, one turnover stood out from them all. Against the Patriots on Thanksgiving night 2012, Sanchez attempted to run the ball on a broken play and ran into the rear end of right guard Brandon Moore. Sanchez dropped the ball upon impact, and Patriots safety Steve Gregory picked it up and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.

“It’s embarrassing,” Sanchez said at the time. “You screw up the play and I’m trying to do the right thing. It’s not like I’m trying to force something. I start to slide and I slide right in the worst spot I possibly could, right into Brandon Moore.”

A prophetic Sanchez added: “Hopefully we’ll laugh about it later.”

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Video of the so-called “butt fumble” went viral, and the play is still mocked to this day.

For many folks, Sanchez’s story basically ends there. But his NFL career continued. The following season, Sanchez won the starting job over rookie quarterback Geno Smith but suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during a preseason game. Sanchez was released by the Jets the following offseason and spent the rest of his career mainly as a backup in Philadelphia, Dallas and Washington.

Now he’s embarking on a new career. As much as we all love the “butt fumble,” maybe it’s time to let it go and allow the man to get on with his life. Hopefully Sanchez won’t be the “butt” of too many jokes at his new gig.


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