FRISCO, Texas– To some degree, all players in the NFL are considered to be in their own fraternity. And within that group is another one – where quarterbacks tend to stick together, often establishing bonds and friendships based on the position they play and the experiences that come along with it.
And that seems to be the case with the Cowboys' newest quarterback, Mark Sanchez, and their injured starter, Tony Romo, who have faced similar challenges during their time in the NFL.
Sanchez, who signed with the Cowboys over the weekend, has only visited with Romo "a handful of times" outside of playing against each other. But then again, as quarterbacks in the NFL, especially in big-market cities where the pressure and expectations are always at an all-time high, Sanchez and Romo don't need to hang out every day to share a common bond.
"No doubt. There's a respect factor in general as a quarterback and that fraternity of players," Sanchez said. "And then, especially a guy who's been in a market like this, if you win, you're a hero. If you lose, people hate you. It's pretty similar to New York. It's sensationalized media – best or worst."
[embeddedad0]Although Romo's path to the NFL was rather opposite of Sanchez, who was the fifth overall pick in 2009, he did take the league by storm when he finally became the starting quarterback of the Cowboys, four years after he joined the team.
Sanchez led the Jets to the playoffs in each of his first two years, advancing to the AFC Championship Game. Romo didn't lead the Cowboys to that kind of success, but took his team to the playoffs during his first two years as a starter as well.
But with early success, comes high expectations. And when the team falls short, such as happened with both the Jets and Cowboys, the blame falls right at the feet of the quarterback.
"Even if you go 8-8, it doesn't matter. That didn't cut it. That's not enough," said Sanchez, who went 11-5 in his second year in New York, followed by an 8-8 and then 6-10 season. "That falls on the quarterback. You're the one with the Win-Loss record. That's the position you take on, it's part of the deal. You respect the heck out of each other as competitors and players in a similar situation."
Sanchez isn't faulting the system, just pointing out the similarities he's shared with Romo. With that, it bonds players together in a unique way. Still, Sanchez said he admires so many things about Romo, from his drive to the way he plays the game on the field.
"Just a great dude and a heck of a competitor. I have a ton of respect for the guy," Sanchez said. "You're bumming for him because you want him to be healthy. I'm learning this offense and watching these plays, and it's just a constant highlight reel of what this guy can do. He's a really special player and a great competitor. That's cool to be a round someone like that. Hopefully I'm around him a lot. Who knows what's going to happen."
The Cowboys plan to keep Romo on the 53-man roster for now, making it unlikely he will go to the 8-week injured reserve. So Sanchez is expected to be the backup for a while behind rookie Dak Prescott. Once Romo returns, the Cowboys obviously will have an interesting decision to make, one that will certainly be determined with the performance of these quarterbacks on the field.