Remembering The ‘Butt Fumble’ Nine Years Later | Thanksgiving Day Was The Beginning Of The End For Former NY Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez

Photo: Youtube/ESPN

Mark Sanchez was the pride of Mexican-Americans when he became the starter at USC in 2008 and led the Mighty Trojans to a 12-1 record. He triumphed in the Rose Bowl and won  MVP in a win against Penn State before being drafted by the New York Jets in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft as the fifth overall pick.

Mark Sanchez led the NY Jets to two straight AFC Championship Games before the buttfumble. Photo: Twitter/CBSSports

Sanchez quickly became the latest toast of the town, exciting everyone in his first two seasons by leading the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship games. Sanchez fell short of a Super Bowl appearance, but the New York fans were sure that he was the franchise. Some even anointed him with the nickname “Sanchize.”

His career began as successfully as any QB in history, and it appeared as if the Jets had  finally found the next Joe Namath, a quarterback to lead them over the next decade.

Fast forward to 2017, and the man formerly known as Sanchize was the answer to a Cheech and Chong football trivia game. He was a journeyman QB holding a clipboard for the Chicago Bears, as he had done for four other teams since leaving the Jets in 2013, one year after the infamous butt fumble — an unfortunate and unforgettable play that has come to define his NFL career. A career that fizzled out after a blazing start.

With Thanksgiving Day set to bring football junkies and families another day of NFL action, we turn back the clocks to Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, and an anticipated AFC East rivalry game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

It was in front of a New York home crowd of 80,000 at MetLife Stadium and a prime-time television audience of 20 million. When Sanchez took the snap, he had what he would later describe as a “mental error” and mistakenly turned to the left, where there was no one to receive the handoff.

Trying to salvage the broken play, he scrambled forward toward the line of scrimmage and in an attempt to slide he collided with the butt of his teammate Brandon Moore.

He got thrust backwards and fumbled the rock, which was recovered by the Patriots’ Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown. It was something out of a Laurel and Hardy comedy football special.

9 Years Since The Infamous Butt Fumble 

Monday was the 9-year anniversary of that unexpected, totally ridiculous, once-in-a-lifetime, career-defining mishap, which has erased the fond memories of Sanchez’s auspicious NFL beginning and relegated him to permanent meme status on social media.

The Butt Fumble became a joke of all jokes in the NFL community for quite some time. With the age of the internet in full swing, the play went viral and was constant fodder for sports comedy shows. They even have legendary Madden tributes to the moment.

Adding to the fiasco is the fact that the Jets fumbled three times in a span of 52 seconds. A true example of how it takes less than a minute to go from god to goat in an NFL career.

The world just won’t let it die. It was the turning point in a Thanksgiving game that the Jets led 14-0 up to that point and in the career of Mark Sanchez, who now does a great job as a football analyst with 10 years of NFL quarterback experience on his résumé.

As we eat our turkey and reminisce about the best and worst Thanksgiving moments in our lifetimes, Jets fans won’t ever have to search the far corners of their fading memories to remember the butt fumble, ranked as the most embarrassing moment in Jets history by ESPN.

Years later, Sanchez is most known for the butt fumble. He takes it all in stride.

It’s still the only thing anyone wants to talk about. Especially on Thanksgiving.


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JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.