Radio Row is a misnomer. Years ago, when the Super Bowl was only "this big," it used to be literally some radio equipment and the accompanying personalities, tables and banners set up in a row, end to end, small enough to fit a wide hallway.
Now it is a teeming city, the radio "studios" and TV sets filling an entire ballroom floor, this year in the Dallas Sheraton. Thereis much movement, many moving parts, lots of familiar faces and voices, the din of Superspeak building to a sweaty pinnacle as the big game gets ever closer.
No ruler of Radio Row is apparent. But several crown princes appear each day of this special week and today Mark Sanchez was one of them.
"It's kind of weird to walk around and hear the murmurs, hear your name and hear people talk about you," Sanchez told newyorkjets.com today during a lunch break. "It's different but it's something that you've got to embrace, it's a part of this profession. And especially playing in New York, you're going to get that kind of attention and you've just got to handle it the right way. I'm trying my best to do it that way."
Just as he is as quarterback of the Jets, as a pitcher of footballs, he's becoming a more polished pitchman. And in fact, "working the Row" today was part of his latest partnership with Degree Men — yes, the underarm deodorant people. That in itself might be worth one paragraph on this Website, but some promotions just resonate a little more.
The headline for the campaign is "Battle-Tested QB Mark Sanchez Ready to Tackle Off-season Adventures with Degree Men." The rationale: The product is "all about challenging guys to attack adrenaline-fueled moments." The hook: Having fans vote on which offseason adventures they'd like to have Mark undertake.
Sanchez details the adventures.
"There's potentially a cage dive with sharks," he said. "Then there's working with a NASCAR pit crew. And something that's close to my heart is training with firefighters, and my dad's a fire captain so it totally fits there.
"And the best part is that you log on to DegreeMen.com, you vote, and with every vote they make a donation to the National Fallen Firefighters Association. So it really hits home. It's very 'me'."
The campaign also dovetails with the schedule for the coming months, in particular if there is a labor stoppage in the NFL.
"It's kind of an offseason of the unknown," said No. 6. "We're uncertain about what's going to happen with a lockout, how long the offseason will go on. So it keeps the adrenaline going from the season, which is important to me. I want to keep playing — I wish we were still playing. So that's a positive."
That is one thing fans should know about the inner Sanchez. Some QBs have been known to get into this game for money and fame, and, well, they have to play football to get that stuff. For Mark, the football comes first. That's evident from getting to know him for two years, and evident today from some chance encounters with other big names who ran into the Sanchez Degree Tour.
Former Super Bowl linebacker Bill Romanowski, for instance, was also making the rounds, and he's been impressed by what he's seen from afar.
"The thing that comes through about Mark is his accountability," said the man called Romo. "And you can tell he loves playing the game."
Then Derrick Brooks, another Super LB of yore, now a Sirius NFL talking head and a friend of Mark's, ran into the party.
Brooks:"I expect you and the Jets to be here next year, man."
Sanchez: "The third time's the charm."
Even the QB's older brother, Nick, helping to keep this entourage on time, remembers about his rookie slump as the Jets lost six of seven at midseason: "Mark never lost that many games in his career. He hates losing in the AFC Championship Game. He just wants to keep playing."
More royalty in this movable patch of hotel turf comes by unexpectedly — actor Hugh Jackman, Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana — and Sanchez stops to chat. But he also has time for all the talk-show hosts and any others who pop up and say, "Mark, would you pose for a picture?"
"The hosts you hear all the time, from different radio programs, and you finally get a chance to sit down and talk to them — the Colin Cowherds, the Tony Brunos, the 2 Live Stews. That's cool for me and it's fun to see those guys and form a relationship," he said.
"The toughest part about it is you don't have time for everyone. You don't want to be rude. You want to tell them about the great product you're working with. And you'd love to talk about the other guys on your team and how well Nick Mangold played and how much Santonio and Braylon mean to you and how much you want them back, how thankful you are for a great running game and a great defense."
As Degree likes to say, it helps men tackle their challenges. Sanchez's challenge in the next year is to make the third time the charm. Radio Row is nice. The Super Bowl spotlight is where the adrenaline is.