Jets’ Sanchez Makes a Real Difference

I don’t like the Jets. 

Their coach is brash and arrogant, their trainers cheat, their offense is hard to watch (a.k.a. boring and anemic), and the media’s disproportionate attention to all NYJets matters makes my inner SoCal Sports Fan mumble about “East Coast Bias” under its breath. GangGreen is exactly the sort of team I like to root against.

Apparently, however, I should be careful about lumping quarterback Mark Sanchez into that category:

Mark Sanchez went to work Tuesday, preparing for a big football game. Some 40 miles away, a little boy from Queens, N.Y., was buried — a friend of the New York Jets quarterback.

Sanchez and Aiden Binkley, 11, met each other only a few weeks ago, but they became fast friends. Binkley was suffering from a rare form of cancer, and he had only two wishes — he wanted his two brothers to stay healthy and he wanted to meet Sanchez.

And so he did.

Now, given my tendency to vacillate wildly between cynicism and naive optimism biased on what side of the bed I got up on this morning (or how much coffee I’ve had on any given day), my first instinct when reading about Aidan’s trip to the Jets’ training facility was “PR Ploy – nice, but not terribly meaningful for the millionaires involved.”

But as the article goes on to detail Sanchez’s meetings, phone conversations, and (eventually) visits to little Aiden’s home, that (admittedly, harsh) reading of the situation grows less and less likely. And it was this line that really got me: “Funny thing about Sanchez’s texts: Instead of a simple, inspirational message, he always posed a question, trying to initiate a conversation.”

Keith Sullivan, an Atlas Foundation board member, was struck by Sanchez’s sincerity. In that initial meeting, Sanchez and Aiden exchanged cell phone numbers, with Sanchez telling the boy, “I’ll shoot you a text later. We’ll talk.” And Sullivan hoped it wasn’t just lip service, a millionaire athlete trying to appease a starstruck kid.

Sanchez called. They talked.

“Aiden had a smile on his face for the last three weeks of his life,” Sullivan said.

Bully for you, Mark Sanchez; well done! May God reward you for your generosity to Aiden and his family. (And let’s not forget to say a prayer for them, as well. This must be a time of great suffering for the Binkley family.)


Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming -- "where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks" -- he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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