Just in case Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez encounters too many distractions when he returns home to southern California this weekend for the Jets' playoff matchup with San Diego, linebacker Bart Scott promised to run interference for the rookie.
"Sometimes, family doesn't understand you're at work," Scott said. "I'm happy I never had to go play at Detroit. You get pastors and all these other people showing up, gym teachers calling for tickets and your mother is calling you. I'm sure he'll have to mess with that monster, as well, but I'll be there trying to shoo him away from any unwarranted cousin-in-laws coming from somewhere we don't really know.
"I know Sanchez is a common name in that community. I don't want people looking in the phone book and saying they're a distant cousin."
Compared to the problems Sanchez faced at midseason when he was throwing interceptions one after another and the Jets were in a 1-6 slump, playoff ticket distractions are a good thing. But Scott said he hopes Sanchez learned something from all the bumps in the road that he hit.
"He just has to lean on the lessons of what happened when he went down and the things he did wrong when he wasn't playing as well and how the people turned on him," Scott said. Recalling a couple of backpage headlines in the New York tabloids, Scott added, "One thing he understands between all the different [headlines] from 'Sanch-ize' to
'Broadway Schmo' is that he realizes they'll turn on you just as fast as they congratulate you. So, stay even keel, and you can't get too high.
"He's got a lot of work to do. He can sit back after this season to reflect on what he's accomplished, but right now, he has to be single-minded about the San Diego Chargers."