When Rex Ryan was hired in January 2009, he famously promised the New York Jets would visit President Obama at the White House.
Two down, 51 players to go.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez was among more than 200 guests Wednesday night at a White House state dinner that honored Mexican president Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala. Sanchez is a third-generation Mexican-American; his great grandfather, Nicholas Sanchez, migrated from Zacatecas, Mexico, to California and worked as a fruit picker.
Sanchez was permitted to bring a guest, so making like a veteran quarterback, he brought the man who protects his blind side, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They appeared on a guest list that was a Who's Who of politics and entertainment.
The biggest names from Hollywood included Eva Longoria-Parker, George Lopez and Whoopi Goldberg. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted the dinner, which also was attended by Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"In his first year with the Jets, Mark has been blessed with opportunities to meet extraordinary people and attend unbelievable events, but dining with the Presidents and First Ladies of the United States and Mexico at the State Dinner has to be the ultimate experience in his young career," Sanchez's oldest brother, Nick Sanchez, said in an e-mail to ESPNNewYork.com.
"Our family is excited for Mark and D'Brickashaw and trust that they will represent the Jets and their families well. I know both of them are working hard to one day make a return trip to the White House as champions."
It probably wouldn't be a stretch to say Sanchez, who is single, ate better at the White House than if he had remained at home in New Jersey. The menu reportedly included Oregon wagyu beef in Oaxacan black mole for the entrée, accompanied by black bean tamalon and grilled green beans. For dessert, they had a choice of a chocolate-cajeta tart, toasted homemade marshmallows and Graham cracker crumble with goat-cheese ice cream.
It was a memorable way to end a long day. It began at teammate Brandon Moore's charity golf outing in Northern New Jersey. Sanchez left at 3:30 to catch a flight to Washington. For security reasons, he was instructed by the White House to keep it a secret.
On Thursday, the Jets' franchise quarterback will return to Florham Park, N.J., for the team's third offseason practice -- but with a great story to tell.