Other than our old friend Pete over at Frowns nobody seemed to be all that upset that Mike Holmgren decided to go in a different direction after back to back 5-11 seasons down by the Lake front. Many in the media found him prickly to deal with, but as last season wore on, we saw a kinder, gentler Eric Mangini. Maybe he knew what his fate was going to be regardless of the outcome or maybe the fact that he could just be the coach, instead of a GM/coach/face of the franchise helped ease his stress level.
Regardless, with Mangini now free and clear, while getting paid handsomely for the next two years to do so, he has other pursuits. He has plenty of time to spend with his two young sons and still lives here in the area. The Mangini family truly loves living in the city of Cleveland. His wife Julie shares the same locale as her brother, Indians President Mark Shapiro, and as we all know, this is a great place to raise your kids.
On Mondays and Tuesdays Eric flies to Bristol, Connecticut and is all over the ESPN Family of networks. Its just a two day gig for him, and he is able to get right back to his family here in Cleveland.
I, for one, hadn’t had the chance to see or hear him earlier this year, but I happened to be in the car for two of his radio bits yesterday – one on Mike and Mike and the other with Colin Cowherd (who I cannot stand by the way). I have to tell you, I came away VERY impressed.
Nobody will ever say that Mangini was/is not a smart football mind. He did learn at the feet of the master, Bill Belichick. But as a radio and TV NFL analyst, that sharp mind really shines through. There were two instances that really showed how professionally he does his new job:
- He was asked why people should be interested in the Miami/Dallas game on Thanksgiving day. Mangini responded by saying this will be an interesting chess match between Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He went on to say that these two worked together over the past two seasons and know each others tendencies well. Not once did he say “these coaches were my coordinators in Cleveland.” When asked if any coordinator in NFL history got more airtime than Rob Ryan, Mangini lauded how much Ryan cares about and truly loves his players. He said this is a guy that will run through a wall for him and the players respond to his enthusiasm greatly. Again, he never once mentioned that Ryan was his guy.
- He was asked about how Miami coach Tony Sparano handles a locker room after starting 0-7 and knows he is essentially a dead man walking. Now these were two situations that Mangini had just been in. He started 1-11 in his first year in Cleveland (the only win was a 6-3 debacle in Buffalo) and his team responded by winning the last four games, playing hard all the way. Then last year, Mangini was a lame duck an everyone knew it, yet his team always played smart, tough football, especially on defense and special teams. Again though, in his answer, he never said “you know, this situation is something that happened to me in Cleveland.” He just gave his answer and didn’t make it about himself.
Peter King of SI.com said in yesterday’s Monday Morning QB the following about Mangini – the radio and TV star:
Eric Mangini’s really good on TV. Smart. He distills complicated football concepts down to understandable terms. Jet fans would be surprised to hear this, but I find him likable on ESPN.
I have yet to see him on TV, but if he is anything like he is on the radio, then I’m on board. I for one am happy that Mangini has found a niche as an NFL analyst because I can honestly say that is something I never thought I would see or enjoy for that matter.
Kudos on a job well done, Eric.
photo via AP