Eric Mangini, the Patriots’ ex-coordinator who joined the rival Jets and helped launch the ‘Spygate’ scandal, surprisingly stuck up for Tom Brady on Tuesday.
Eric Mangini left behind a fairly complicated legacy in New England.
If you’re a forgiving type of person, you might remember Mangini as one of Bill Belichick’s most trusted defensive advisors and coaches during the halcyon days of the early-2000s dynasty.
If you’re a more normal Patriots fan with a solid head on your shoulders, then you probably remember Mangini better for what he later became: the head coach of the hated New York Jets, a traitor, and a snitch.
It’s not just that Mangini left Belichick’s side in 2006 to take a better, more prestigious opportunity elsewhere. It’s not even the fact that said opportunity was with the Jets of all teams. More than anything, it’s the manner in which Mangini left the Patriots, and the actions he took in the immediate years following his departure.
It was Mangini who reportedly complained to league officials during the fall of 2007 about the Patriots filming defensive signals, which of course ignited the whole “Spygate” scandal. Whatever your stance and opinion is on the controversy itself (and let’s be honest: like the other New England scandals, this one was massively overblown), no one likes a tattletale.
Mangini being at the center of the whole mess naturally made him one of the most despised figures in the Northeast almost overnight. If you thought the postgame handshakes were “frosty” between the master (Belichick) and his former apprentice (Mangini) back in 2006, their terse, nearly nonexistent interactions in 2007 were beyond subzero.
All this is to say it’s more than a little surprising to find Mangini saying or doing anything nice as it relates to his former employer. And yet, that’s apparently exactly what happened on Tuesday, when Mangini defended the Patriots (specifically Tom Brady) on national television, per NESN’s Adam London.
Granted, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are two different individuals. Perhaps Mangini’s ire was only ever reserved specifically for Belichick himself – or maybe he’s just cooled off a bit in the four years he’s spent outside the NFL coaching fraternity.
Whatever the reason, he probably raised the eyebrows of any viewers watching in New England when he rode to Brady’s defense Tuesday on FS1’s “Undisputed.” Rob Parker, perpetual Brady-hater and Patriots vitriol-spewer, directed the following nonsensical take in Mangini’s direction to start off the memorable exchange:
“Can I give you my glasses, cause obviously you haven’t been watching Tom Brady, OK? All of his numbers are down. Last year: passer rating, down. Touchdown passes, down. Interceptions, up. Yards per game, down. Completion percentage, down. Yards per pass, down. Did you watch him in the Super Bowl? Did you watch how awful Tom Brady was?”
Cool as a cucumber, Mangini then proceeded to eviscerate Parker’s argument and overall ineptitude as a football analyst… before surprisingly sounding a bit like a closet Pats fanboy at the very end:
“Can we just talk about your hashtag? ‘Hashtag inconsistent Rob Parker.’ So the last segment we did, you didn’t wanna hear about Dak’s (Prescott) stats. Dak’s stats didn’t matter in relation to Carson Wentz. It was, ‘Do you watch the tape? Who would you want? Who would you take?’ And then inconsistent Rob Parker pivots to, ‘This is down, the stats are down, this is down.’ You know what’s up? Another Super Bowl banner.”
That sulfuric smell you detect is the smoking ruin of Parker’s credibility as a TV talking head… not that he ever had that much to begin with.
Still, it’s both peculiar and amusing to find Mangini backing Brady and the Patriots after all these years.
Even if time has helped heal some of the old wounds, you’d better believe that hell will freeze over before Belichick ever repays that favor and says or does anything nice for Mangini.