Former New York Jets coach Eric Mangini is featured in a revealing piece by Seth Wickersham in the current issue of ESPN The Magazine. In the story, Mangini admits he initially wanted no part of Brett Favre in New York. The current Cleveland Browns coach isn't quoted directly, but considering he gave Wickersham five days of behind-the-scenes access, it's a safe bet that he got it from the Man-genius' mouth.
When Mangini was fired in January, 2009, after Favre's arm injury (we didn't know about it at the time) led to a late-season collapse, I reported that Mangini wasn't on board with the Favre trade. Publicly, none of the principles confirmed that. Mangini always has talked around it, using his Mangini-speak, but the following passage makes it pretty clear where he stood on Favre.
Here's a couple of graphs from Wickersham's story, describing how GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson pushed for the trade:
"In August, 2008, the Packers were trying to trade Favre. Mangini didn't want him. He considered Favre a hired gun, and he wanted to develop Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff. (My two cents: No mention of Chad Pennington, who still was on the roster.) But Tannenbaum and Jets owner Woody Johnson expressed interest in Favre, while also vowing that Mangini's job was safe, no matter what. And with Favre on the verge of accepting a trade to Tampa, the coach's competitiveness took over.
"'I wanted to win,' he says. So he scheduled a five-minute phone call with Favre for the next morning, then went home and read Hello, He Lied, a book that talks about successfully pitching movies to studio execs in only a few minutes. Mangini developed his selling points: The Jets were better than the Bucs, and New Jersey's hunting and fishing scene was better than Tampa's. Favre, seduced, ended up chatting for an hour ..."
Wickerstam goes on to recount the Jets' collapse, adding, "The one thing Mangini couldn't do was bench a future Hall of Famer for whom he had mortgaged the season. The night he was fired, the coach sat on his couch, thinking, You sold yourself out."
What does this have to do with anything? Let's play what-if: If the Jets didn't make the trade, maybe Mangini doesn't get fired. (Expectations would've been lower.) If he doesn't get fired, the Jets might have missed out on Mark Sanchez in the 2009. Why? The only reason they were able to trade up for Sanchez was because of the sweetheart deal offered by Mangini, then with the Browns, who was willing to take Jets trash (Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman, Abe Elam) in a trade.
For what it's worth, my peeps in Cleveland say Mangini has lightened up a bit, especially in dealing with the media. New football czar Mike Holmgren apparently has had that effect on him; that, and self-preservation.