Mark Sanchez retiring from NFL for analyst job: A requiem for one of the great bloggable NFL careers

A remarkably tumultuous NFL career is coming to an end, with former first-round pick Mark Sanchez apparently retiring after 10 years in the NFL to join ESPN as a college football analyst.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports Sanchez is walking away from an NFL career that featured two AFC Championship Game appearances and the most notorious boneheaded moment of the last 10 years -- "the butt-fumble" -- to replace Mack Brown as one of ABC/ESPN's primary studio analysts.

Sanchez will join Kevin Negandhi and Jon Vilma in the studio.

Drafted fifth overall by the Jets in the notoriously terrible 2009 NFL Draft, Sanchez was a controversial prospect out of the gate, with then USC coach Pete Carroll saying he didn't believe Sanchez was ready to make the jump to the NFL. The Jets, with newly signed Rex Ryan as their coach, made a bold splash to move up and get Sanchez with the No. 5 overall pick. 

The move worked out in the short term, with Sanchez playing well enough in his first two years, coupled with the Jets' stout running game and top-tier defense, to make it to the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back seasons. Sanchez was hardly great in those years, averaging 2,867 passing yards while throwing 29 touchdowns to 33 interceptions over the two-year span. He completed just 54.4 percent of his passes. 

Sanchez would last with the Jets through just the 2013 season, a wild ride that felt like it was much longer than it actually was. He would be cut in March of 2014 and replaced by Michael Vick after undergoing season-ending surgery in late 2013.

If you saw Sanchez's most famous play -- the butt-fumble, a Thanksgiving disaster in 2012 against the Patriots in which Sanchez sprinted forward and coughed the ball up after running into the rump of an offensive lineman -- live, you will never forget where you were when you watched it. The butt-fumble isn't part of Sanchez's Wikipedia page because it has its own.

(I was actually doing a takeover of the CBS Sports Twitter account, sitting on my brother-in-law's couch and I'm not sure I've ever laughed so hard in my entire life. Not getting fired for tweeting about this event remains a highlight of my career. Speaking of Twitter takeovers, the Pats once tweeted out a photo of the butt-fumble ahead of a matchup against the Jets. TBT indeed.)

Sanchez was so lampooned throughout the end of his run with the Jets, it allowed his former coach to pile on after everyone had been fired, with Rex noting he "knew" that Sanchez would never be a franchise quarterback. Which, well, don't hurt yourself rolling your eyes. This is the same guy who once <em>got a tattoo of his wife wearing a Sanchez jersey</em>. Ryan also said that his 2012 Jets team was the best team he's ever had. They would finish 6-10.

And let's not forget that Sanchez was so well thought of by Rex and then GM Mike Tannenbaum that they gave him a totally unnecessary contract extension that made Sanchez "uncuttable." 

Underrated in all the Sanchez talk is the horrific 2012 season in which New York traded for Tim Tebow after the Broncos acquired Peyton Manning. Some enterprising editor at our site forced my colleague Ryan Wilson to run a weekly SANCHBOW series, in which he chronicled the snap breakdown between Tebow and Sanchez. Originally a preseason gag, it lasted nearly the entire year. 

Even Tebow's quarterback coach piled onto Sanchez, calling him "fragile" minded

He battled Geno Smith, another QB Ryan was sure would save his job. Even the NFL's official YouTube account was willing to make fun of the former quarterback during his run with the Jets because he scarfed down a hot dog on the sidelines of a game.

There was Sanchez's glorious headband that he rocked back in 2013 amid the battle with Smith for the starting QB job. 

Maybe these were all simpler times, when we could sit back and giggle about some of the silly stuff a high-profile quarterback for the Jets did? If you weren't watching the NFL back in 2009-12, you can't fully understand just what a circus those Jets teams were. 

Sanchez was the butt of the jokes, unfortunately, and he handled almost all of it with incredible aplomb. We might not have known what we had in him when we had it. 

After leaving the Jets, Sanchez -- who by the way, is by all accounts a great guy and an excellent teammate -- would play two years for the Eagles, starting 10 games in that stretch. He would spend 2016 as a Cowboys backup, 2017 as a Bears backup and then spent last season with the Redskins, actually playing in a pair of football games! 

He won't go down as a Hall of Fame player, but he made a pile of money and even bigger pile of memories for all of us watching. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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