Yankees' Joe Girardi Teaches Jets' Mark Sanchez How to Slide
So on Tuesday morning, ever-entertaining Jets coach Rex Ryan called Yankees team president Randy Levine and asked if the World Series champs could send anybody over to Jets camp to teach their rookie quarterback how to slide. And that's how Yankees manager Joe Girardi became a special guest at Jets camp and was immediately put to work.
"We had a little sliding mat out there," Ryan said. "I told (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer), 'I'm going over your head, I'm going over my head. We're bringing in a world champ to get this done.' We spent 10 minutes out there. He was running and learning to slide off his right leg. (Sanchez) is too valuable and he needs to understand that we need him out there and people are going to take shots at him if he doesn't start sliding."
Ryan said he didn't specifically request Girardi. He called Levine, whom he'd met in June at the wedding of Jets owner Woody Johnson, and asked if the Yankees could send anybody to work with Sanchez. The Yankees sent Girardi, his son, Dante, and Yankees coaching assistant Brett Weber. Ryan was thrilled when he found out Girardi was coming, and so was Sanchez.
"It meant a lot to me personally for him to come out, take time out of his schedule, his vacation and celebration time to help me out with something like sliding," Sanchez said. "There's nobody better to get coaching from than him, especially in this area. Really cool, to meet his son and throw a ball around was fun as well. It was great."
Sanchez wears a knee brace on his left knee, so Ryan felt it was very important for him to learn how to slide on his right leg. The 45-year-old Girardi, who has been said several times to be in better shape than some of his own players, spent 10 minutes demonstrating and instructing.
"He showed me how to do it with the opposite leg and hook that leg under," Sanchez said. "He showed me how to protect the ball while I'm sliding and try not to fall on one side or the other on my shoulder, just absorb the blow with my butt and my legs. It was important for me to learn that and I really appreciated it."
Sanchez said he was a head-first slider in his baseball days, and that as a college quarterback he did the same or tried to barrel his way out of bounds. But now that he's in the NFL, he's being told it's important to be able to protect himself with the rule that prohibits hitting a quarterback who's sliding.
"He wears a brace on his left leg, so we tried to help him learn how to slide on the other leg. It's not an easy thing to do," Girardi said. "It was a real pleasure to be around Coach Ryan and the team. Dante had a blast as well. He even caught a few passes from Mark."
Somebody asked Ryan if he considered bringing in Rickey Henderson, baseball's all-time stolen base leader.
"No, because he always slid head-first," Ryan said. "That's our problem. He's seen way too much of Rickey Henderson."
Sanchez and the Jets face the Bills on Thursday night in Toronto. Ryan said the knee problem for which Sanchez is wearing the brace won't prevent him from playing or limit him in that game.