By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
After the Monday night football game this week, I scrolled through the guide on my cable TV and found a show called “Mario Lopez One-on-One” on a channel called NuvoTV.
It’s Channel 185 on Cox in Phoenix, if you want to know. According to its website, NuvoTV “is the first English-language cable network for bicultural Latinos in the U.S.”
That would describe me. A network for someone like me. I hit the select button, and there was New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez in a sit-down interview with Mario Lopez. I decided to tune in.
There was The Sanchize, the Chicano prince of the Big Apple, laying it out with the life story for the guy who was once superjock A.C. Slater in Saved By The Bell.
I never did understand why his character was named Slater. Dude should’ve been named A.C. Gonzales or Sandoval or something more befitting of his heritage. But whatever. Maybe Saturday syndicated TV wasn’t ready for a Chicano yet.
Lopez, of course, has gone on to big things on TV. Sanchez is trying to win over New York as the Jets quarterback, and the team is 1-1 to start the 2012 NFL season.
During the interview, Sanchez said Jets teammate Tim Tebow, one of the most talked-about NFL players today, “isn’t coming to replace anybody, he’s there to add.”
Sanchez began by talking about his days growing up in Orange County, California, (“Tamales at Christmas, that was just normal to me”) and going on to star at USC. He realized that being of Mexican descent and quarterbacking the Trojans was bigger than he imagined when the food service workers on the USC campus told him how proud they were of him.
At USC games, he would see fans in lucha libre masks in tribute to his heritage. He chose to honor his Latino fans with a tri-colored mouthpiece given to him by the team dentist. It was a simple and fun gesture that turned into an unnecessary controversy, as he drew criticism for wearing the accessory during a game.
Sanchez said the red, white and green mouthpiece was “a high five to them (Latino USC fans) because I can’t thank them all. The Latino fan base loved it. Everybody else, they were a little bit skeptical.”
Asked by Lopez to clarify, Sanchez was brief.
“Simply a thank you. The people that wanted to get it, got it.”
Other tidbits of info about Sanchez, straight from him: He enjoys the music of the Counting Crows, he has seen the late Selena perform live and chose her over Shakira, and while his father likes Carlos Mencia’s brand of comedy, Sanchez prefers George Lopez.