Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mortensen calls the play
For sheer joy, nothing could match the smile on Mark Sanchez's face when he was selected by the New York Jets in Saturday's NFL draft. But the poobah's at ESPN had to be beeming along with the USC quarterback when the network's Chris Mortensen pounced on the trade that set in motion the most interesting part of Round One, maybe the entire draft.
Many of the mock-drafters had Sanchez slated to go to Seattle, which had the No.4 choice, or to St. Louis, which had the second pick. The St. Louis scenario was a little weak because it seemed to be based mostly on the rumor that the team had purchased a plane ticket for Sanchez the day before. NFL clubs probably do this for a lot of potential picks.
But Mortensen had the scoop, and when Seattle passed on Sanchez and the Jets then traded up to No. 5, Mortensen reported something that wasn't widely known.
At the league owner's meetings in Dana Point, California, earlier this year, members of the Jets management had arranged a private workout for Sanchez at Mission Viejo High, his alma mater. It was at this get-together that the team's brass became convinced that the handsome Orange County product would fit in their plans, if they could be get him.
The story made ESPN look good and also added to Mortensen's reputation as his being of the top reporters on TV.

Add Sanchez: It's a little ironic that he is going to be playing for the Jets, a team that Pete Carroll once coached. Sanchez's decision to turn pro was rebuked by the USC coach, who at a press conference at Heritage Hall, made it clear that he didn't think Sanchez was ready for the NFL.

Add Mortensen: Before he went to ESPN, Chris was a sportswriter in Los Angeles and he mostly covered baseball. A  colleague at the L.A. Times once said that of all the writers on the beat, he feared Mortensen the most because of his ability to break stories.

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