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Eric Mangini Wants to be Friends with Bill Belichick Again

Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini have a dramatic past (photo from Sports Illustrated)

Apparently, former Bill Belichick colleague and betrayer Eric Mangini wants to kiss and make up with the Patriots’ coach.

Previously, he was Eric Mangini’s mentor, and, according his recent interview with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, he was the reason Mangini got involved with the NFL.  That’s why it was so dramatic when he left.

None of us had any hard feelings about Charlie Weis or Romeo Crennel leaving the team amidst a dynasty.  They had both gone on to better individual positions and they had earned it.  They each left gracefully and handled their own business.  And when Scott Pioli and Josh McDaniels left, we sent them off with parting gifts Mike Vrabel, Matt Cassell and Daniel Graham.

Mangini had a chance to do the same.  He made it difficult, by taking a head coach job with the easily hate-able New York Jets.  But if he had done it respectfully, the rivalry would have been more of a mutual respect between the two, similar to the rivalry between Belichick and Tony Dungy during Dungy’s run with the Colts.  But the bad blood between the two couldn’t be held back after a famous accusation in 2007.

While Eric Mangini told Mike Florio “when I talk about him, he was my mentor. He taught me everything, and I respect him tremendously. That’s not (BS). That’s how I feel. I hope at some point, we’ll be able to sit down and talk about things and get back to a better relationship,” he also refused to discuss the 2007 Spygate accusation in the interview.

While the two exchanged plenty of limp handshakes and seemed to have a general disliking for one another after their split, it was Mangini himself who tried to give Bill Belichick an asterisk for allegedly recording the Jets’ defensive signals in week one of the 2007-08 season.  Since then, the charges have been dropped, Mangini has been laughed out of New York after underachieving with a capable Brett Favre on a talented Jets team, and he barely hung on to his coaching job with the lowly Cleveland Browns after a miserable 1-11 start.

Don’t expect Belichick to warm up to Mangini just because he claims he wants to make amends. Just look at Bill Belichick’s response to Tom Jackson’s analysis of the team in the 2003-04 season. After a rough first week, in which the Pats were forced to part ways with Lawyer Milloy and they opened the season with a tough 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Tom Jackson looked directly into the camera on ESPN and declared “let me say this clearly…they [the Patriots players] hate their coach.”  After going on to finish that very same season with a 14-2 record and a Lombardi trophy, a post-game interview was scheduled between the two.  When Jackson walked up to him, Belichick refused to shake his hand and apparently told Jackson “to attempt something unprintable and anatomically impossible,” to quote Sports Illustrated’s E.M. Swift.  Chris Berman ended up conducting that interview.

Although this is the second time Eric Mangini has attempted to mend his relationship with Bill Belichick, as he mentioned it in an earlier interview with the Globe’s Albert Breer, it is really just something to laugh off.  Even if Belichick does let Mangini buy him a re-conciliatory beer before the upcoming season, don’t expect them to hug before they play each other in Cleveland on Nov. 7.

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