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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Condoning Cheating? - NFL Coaches Unfairly Treating Jets Coach Eric Mangini

Profootballtalk.com and The New York Times report today that several NFL Coaches and executives are working to gang-up on New York Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini for blowing the whistle on New England Coach Bill Belichek for telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the Pats vidoed defensive signals from opposing teams, a violation of NFL rules.

Selena Roberts of the NY Times writes:

Mangini didn’t just flip on Belichick, costing his former mentor a celebrated image that has been reflected in a shelf-full of Lombardi Trophies, as well as a $500,000 fine and a prime draft pick. He did more. He also humiliated the respected Patriots owner and league power player Robert K. Kraft.

That sin has left Mangini toxic to some team executives. After all, would you trust him? Is there anyone — a player, assistant, general manager, owner or mascot — that he wouldn’t betray in a pinch?

Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com reports:

The reality, however, is that Mangini has likely learned his lesson, and that he knows that he has pulled the trigger on a one-shot pistol. But this doesn't change the fact that no NFL executive could justify taking the risk that Mangini might offer up a sequel.

Meanwhile, Mangini might have problems keeping the job he currently has. As one league insider opined on Tuesday:

"The biggest issue that Mangini faces is that his team absolutely stinks. One of the problems with being a surprise team is that you can't surprise anyone anymore. They won't win more than six games this year. The Ravens tried to hand the game to the Jets after dominating for three quarters and the Jets refused to take it. The offensive line is awful, the defensive line is terrible, the running back is old, the wideouts drop passes, and the secondary is beat up. The Patriots will win that division by five or six games, easy. That, more than anything, is going to put heat on Mangini."

Wait. That's not right. It points to the observation that some NFL execs may have actually known that New England was cheating and kept quiet; indeed, if Mangini himself knew this, and talked, then how many other people knew? It doesn't make the NFL look good at all, and with these latest headlines, sends up more smoke, implying there's a fire burning somewhere in the league.

This matter of punishing Mangini as whistle-blower also opens another question -- at least in my mind. Why does the NFL allow a double-standard to exist, where players transgressions are blurted out to the public with abandon, and there's no threat of backlash by NFL team execs, but when it comes to the matter of an NFL coach like Bill Belichek, this invisible protective shield is thrown up?

It's not right. The Commissioner should release a statement warning the league's execs of punishment if such statements are made in the future. I personally dislike this aspect of how the NFL functions. Yes, Bill Belichek's a great coach, and while he should not have done what he did, and his overall record is somewhat tainted, he's got three Super Bowl trophies, and that didn't come just from hard-to-get videos.

But look at the facts -- the Pats have won some very close games in Super Bowl history. It's fair to ask if the video practice was used prior to each Super Bowl the Pats were in under Belichek. I'm not saying take his awards away, but the way they were gotten is under scrutiny.

That process of investigation must begin. But meanwhile, leave Eric Mangini alone. I'm certain he got tired of being well-prepared for New England only to have his hat handed to him by a too-well-prepared Patriots team, and knowing how they got ready to play, and what they did during the game steamed him.

Enough was enough.


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