Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.
Rex Ryan knew the question was coming, and he did not hesitate to answer.
Why stick with Mark Sanchez at quarterback?
"I think he gives us our best chance to win," the Jets' coach said Sunday after Sanchez and his non-supporting cast gave themselves no chance against the Dolphins in a 30-9 loss at MetLife Stadium. "That's my opinion, and that's the one that matters.''
Technically true. But those of us who merely watch get to have opinions, too, so here's one that doesn't matter:
In the short term, Sanchez does not give the Jets the best chance to win, not the way things are going, not with one of the NFL's most dynamic jumper cables standing on the sideline with his arms folded while the Jets stall.
Let's get one thing straight right off: This is not a case for Tim Tebow as a championship-caliber NFL quarterback. Far from it. He cannot throw a football consistently well enough to be that guy for the Jets -- or anyone else.
But he still is the guy who won a series of big games for the Broncos last season, and he is better equipped than Sanchez to create his own offense out of nothing, which is what Sanchez mostly is working with these days.
If Ryan ever is going to pull the trigger, the moment is now, with a week off to tweak the offense, followed by games in Seattle and St. Louis, far from Jets fans who got into the Halloween spirit Sunday by shouting "Boo!" early and often.
Sometimes change for the sake of change works, and after four losses in five games, including two blowout defeats at home, change is in order.
The biggest argument against benching Sanchez is that it will destroy him psychologically, to the point that he never will be a viable starter again.
Nonsense. More established players than Sanchez have been asked to chill on the bench -- even Alex Rodriguez! -- and many eventually have returned successfully.
And if a benching does ruin Sanchez emotionally, he wasn't suited to the role of long-term New York quarterback in the first place.
Bottom line: The Jets need a quick image makeover, and moving to trendy Brooklyn presumably is not an option.
Having said all that, we return you to reality, with comments from Ryan, Sanchez and other Jets pooh-poohing all of the above.
Did Ryan consider inserting Tebow on Sunday as Sanchez absorbed blows to his body and ego?
"I just never thought it was the time to do it," he said. "Mark's our quarterback. I just thought he gave us our best chance to win."
Did Sanchez hear the crowd chant Tebow's name?
"There's nothing you can do about it," Sanchez said. "It's a big market and this is a grown man's game and you have to play tough. They want results and we're not playing well, so they're going to call for somebody else . . . It doesn't really bother me at all. I'm just playing and having fun with our guys."
Has Sanchez lost confidence? "No, I felt good, I really did," he said. "I feel as confident as ever."
What did Tebow think of hearing his name chanted?
"I'm just ready and willing," he said. "Whenever they call my number, I go out there to help the team, and I'm not listening to what the crowd is saying."
Did he think it was wrong for the crowd to chant for him? "You have to support your guy," he said. "I feel, and all of us feel, the same way."
That was so, based on remarks from others, including tight end Dustin Keller, who said he is "not a big fan of screaming to get the backup quarterback in. I feel like fans should have the starting quarterback's back 100 percent until they do officially make some type of change."
Keller went on to insist that Sanchez's teammates "have his back" and "believe in him" and so on.
All of which is as it should be. Ryan apparently feels similarly.
But the rest of us don't have to agree. It's Tebow Time.