Hilary Rhoda. Lindsay McCormick. Jennifer Mueller.
Google "Mark Sanchez girlfriend" and these are the first handful of supermodel hot women linked to the New York Jets quarterback. At least they were until this morning. Now you need to wade through a half dozen or so links mentioning "Eliza Kruger."
Who is Eliza Kruger? She is the 17-year-old high school student that hooked up with Sanchez after meeting him at a party on New Year's Eve.
The story is covered in much detail, including direct quotes from Kruger herself, on Deadspin. And to be clear, with 17 being the age for consent in New York (where the club they met is located) and New Jersey (the state in which Sanchez lives), Sanchez wasn't breaking any laws, nor is he if he decides to see Kruger again in the future.
But this is not a post about morality, it's a post about common sense.
To give the broad strokes on the beginning of the "relationship," Sanchez met Kruger at a New Year's Eve party at a 21-and-older club in Manhattan called Lavo. A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin gives a synopsis of their initial conversation:
[Sanchez] was there long enough to chat up our young protagonist. E.K. told me that Sanchez sidled up to her, and the two talked for a while. She gave him her BlackBerry number and flirted a bit. "You know I'm 17, right?" she remembers saying. Sanchez kept his cool. "Well, we can still talk, but I can't see you until you're 18," he said. "Actually," E.K. replied, "17 is legal in New York."
This should have been the point when Mark Sanchez shut things down between him and Kruger, because two things are clear: (1) By raising the "Talk to me when you're 18" angle, Sanchez knows he's treading in uncomfortable territory and (2) more importantly, by showing her intimate knowledge of consent laws, Kruger clearly knows where she's treading (not to mention the fact that she's in a club in Manhattan at age 17).
You can debate the possible motivation of a teenage girl who engaged in a physical relationship with an NFL quarterback and then went to Deadspin to disclose details (Clay Travis posted an excellent piece on Fanhouse on this very topic.). You can bring up her upbringing (her family is loaded), her parents (divorced) and the pitfalls of social media (her Facebook page was command central for letting her friends know that "Mark FUCKING Sanchez" was texting her.).
To me, as a sports fan, this just puts Mark Sanchez as the next quarterback in the "Can We Trust Him with the Keys to Our Franchise?" category. It's not Michael Vick running a dog-fighting ring, it's not Ben Roethlisberger allegedly forcing himself on a college coed, it's not Vince Young deciding to pummel a fellow strip club patron because he gave him the "Horns down" hand signal.
In short, it's not anything that's going to get Mark Sanchez suspended.
But if you're Jets ownership and you're asked, "Would you like Mark Sanchez to be having sex with 17-year-old high school students that he meets in Manhattan clubs?" the answer clearly falls in the "HELL NO" bucket. And if the Jets have invested nearly $30 million in guaranteed money in you, you only do things that fall into the "YES" bucket. It's that simple.
If you're the quarterback of the Jets, there are a hundred women of a much more perceptually acceptable age waiting for you at every other corner of the club -- women who probably won't text back "I have school tomorrow" when you see what they're up to on a Wednesday night (This exchange reportedly happened between Kruger and Sanchez.).
Why Eliza Kruger, Mark, other than the fact that she's hot?
Sanchez will get past this quickly, and anyone who thinks this little tryst will follow Sanchez around has never been to Mardi Gras. What do I mean? Well, acts like exposing one's breasts, vomiting and urinating in public, and passing out on a barstool are all arrestable offenses in normal society; however, in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, they're not only accepted, they're practically encouraged.
In the NFL, the New York Jets are Mardi Gras, where the unacceptable elsewhere is considered tolerable or even acceptable behavior.
In the dysfunction Olympics that is the 2010 Jets, Sanchez is at best the bronze medal winner, with Rex Ryan's foot fetish and Antonio Cromartie's struggle to remember the names of all of his offspring easy gold and silver medal winners, respectively. (The good news for Sanchez, as Jets quarterbacks go, is that he's the runaway winner in successful pick-up methods, easily outdistancing the Brett Favre "Cell Phone Weenie Roast" and the Joe Namath "Struggaling Slurapalooza". So he's got that going for him.)
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When it comes to stories that feel like tabloid stories, nowadays we love hearing about them, but we're just too lazy to do the follow-up anymore, mostly because we know there will be another story just like this one in the next day or two. Why bother? So Sanchez will be fine....until the next time he decides to do something that falls into the Jets' "HELL NO" bucket.
And if you're the Jets, now you cringe wondering if the next thing will actually carry real consequences. This time it didn't. But Mark Sanchez is only 24, he's got a lot more years.
Hopefully, he realizes he's not 17 anymore.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.