Joe Namath, Curtis Martin Chime in on Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez are in a two-man competition to become the New York Jets' starting quarterback for 2013. Already, with the competition hardly even underway, Jets legends are chiming in with their opinions.

Curtis Martin: It's One or The Other

Curtis Martin, a man who is viewed by many as one of the greatest Jets of all time and by many more as one the greatest running backs of all time, gave his thoughts about the competition. Said Martin (via Seth Walder of, "Either Mark will outperform Geno or Geno will outperform Mark."

This might sound like a bit of a truism or a politically correct statement, and perhaps it is. But if anything can be garnered from the statement, it is perhaps the implication that Martin is expecting a real competition. Simply put, one quarterback will out-perform the other, and he will win the competition.

If there remains concern that Mark Sanchez, as the incumbent, could be receiving special treatment or getting an unfair advantage, then this view to the contrary should be viewed as a positive thing.

Gone are the days of rookie quarterbacks being obligated by tradition to sit behind veterans. The right path for the Jets is to treat Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez equally and go with the better player in September.

The best comparison point here is the example of Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn last year with the Seattle Seahawks. It was a true competition, and Wilson (the rookie) defeated Flynn (the veteran) based on merit.

Joe Namath: Jets Were Fine With Sanchez

Joe Namath, another Jets legend and the quarterback who led the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III, had a different take. According to Namath, there was not even the necessity to draft a quarterback this year. In his view, Mark Sanchez can have success with this team, and now is not the time to develop a new rookie.

Namath said (via Ebenezer Samuel of, "I don't think [the Jets] needed a quarterback... I am pulling for [Mark Sanchez]. I know that he can do better than he's done."

Given the events of the 2012 season, Namath's view might not be a popular opinion. However, it has its merits. Mark Sanchez remains a young quarterback, still only in his fifth year, who has reached the playoffs in half of his professional seasons so far. He has four playoff victories and has generally done well in big games and important situations.

Sanchez's problem has been his regular-season play over the past two years, when the Jets missed the playoffs. If Namath is to be believed, then perhaps Sanchez can do better with an improved offensive roster this year.

Clearly, even among the Jets legends, opinions vary and the future is not yet known. The Jets' quarterback competition this summer is looking like it will be the most interesting one in the NFL. Whether or not Sanchez has a leg up is open to debate, but in either case the performances of Sanchez and Smith will surely play a major role.

Perhaps one of them will surprise us all.

Adam Waksman is a Yahoo! contributor in Sports. He also covers the New York Jets for Bleacher Report, where he a Featured Columnist and award-winning blogger.

You can follow Adam on Twitter.

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