Until the moment the Jets made the announcement in a terse text message to reporters early Friday night, Mark Sanchez was hoping he'd get one more chance.
One more chance to prove himself to the team that invested so heavily in him since pulling off a blockbuster trade during the 2009 draft.
One more chance to finish off the job he started with such promise those first two years with trips to the AFC Championship Game.
But then it was finished. With these words, followed by a news release, his five-year run was over: "The Jets have released QB Mark Sanchez."
So it goes for the 27-year-old Sanchez, whose level of play never quite matched his unbridled enthusiasm and whose fate essentially was sealed the moment that Giants defensive tackle Marvin Austin hit him in his throwing shoulder during garbage time of a preseason game last year.
Sanchez never should have been inserted in the game behind a backup offensive line in the fourth quarter, but a befuddled Rex Ryan put him in after Geno Smith looked as if he'd surrendered the starting job with a series of miscues through the first three quarters.
Austin's hit caused an injury that eventually required surgery, and Sanchez never got the chance to throw another pass for the Jets. Friday night's decision, which came moments after the Jets agreed to a one-year contract with former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, ended Sanchez's run with the Jets in the cold, calculated manner that the NFL displays when a team no longer has any use for a player.
The Jets haven't found the answer at quarterback since Joe Namath last played for them, and Sanchez is simply the latest in a long line of passers to have ended in failure.
There were hopes that the former USC star would be the next Namath. Joe Willie himself has been a steadfast supporter, suggesting in recent days via Twitter that the Jets should keep Sanchez, albeit at a reduced salary from his $11- million price tag for 2014.
But after being a good enough game manager during his first two seasons, both of which ended just one victory short of the Super Bowl, Sanchez regressed the next two years, bottoming out with the infamous "Butt Fumble" on Thanksgiving night in 2012. After he missed last season and Smith did well enough to get the Jets to 8-8, it was obvious the team was ready to go in another direction.