Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Magini in charge

By nature I am a contrarian. When everyone seems to line up on the same side, I always question that. My instinct is to shy away from the crowd and stand alone. I don't blindly follow. If I do follow the crowd it is because I explored that position and couldn't find a reason -- sometimes any reason -- not to join the mob.

The majority of the media despises Eric Mangini. That venom has already spilled over into message boards and bar stools. At first glance Mangini is certainly not a likable guy. Young. Smug. Stubborn. Close to the vest.

But honestly I like what he is doing. I even like how he has handled the quarterback situation. For several reasons.

1. I like he could care less what the media thinks. A few years ago I spent some time in the Browns press box and in Berea. I was shocked at the bitterness of the majority of the people who cover the Browns. I saw a lot of lonely old men who no longer even liked sports. It was sad. The rudeness of many of the veterans to a new guy hanging around was astounding. I couldn't help but think of high school cliques. And the constant complaining about everything was so irritating. Theses guys have the best and easiest job in the world --don't kid yourself about having to wait to get quote as a being hardship -- and they were all miserable. So when Tony Rizzo went out of his way to have a conversation with me one day. I was blown away. I don't listen to his current show so I don't have an opinion on that. But I was really impressed with Tony that day. He still had enthusiasm for his job, for sports and he just seemed like a nice guy. Tony stood out because he seemed like the only one. All this is a long way of saying I am taking great pleasure in Mangini rubbing most of these Browns beat writers crazy. Boo Hoo my job where I get paid to watch sports is harder because I am not handed things on a silver plate. The fact that the media doesn't like Mangini makes me want to like him.

2. Mangini promised competition to his team and he followed through. Anyone with lingering feelings in the locker room can't say he played favorites. Mangini was fair maybe even to a fault. A quarterback won the job. He didn't get it by being anointed or because of past accolades. If Mangini doesn't have his locker room -- it is not because of how he choose a quarterback.

3. I know many are scoffing about Mangini not revealing his choice because he wants Minnesota to prepare. I sure that there is a kernel of truth there but beyond that his refusal to name a quarterback has done one other thing. People are talking about Mangini. They are not talking about Quinn or Anderson. Instead of questions all week about how Quinn won the job or why Anderson lost the job and how they feel about that. Mangini has put the heat on himself. His quarterbacks are left to focus on the job on hand.

4. But what about the fans? This has been one of the more irriatating complaints being written about. The fans deserve to know. Mangini's secrecy hurts the fans. I like that Mangini appreciates Browns fans. I know he does. He lived here. He saw the love this town has for the team and he saw the pain leaving caused. But I love how he will be damned to let that affect how he runs his football team. Revealing injuries or who is starting doesn't change who is or is not a fan. Some angry wishy-washy person may claim that but that is complete BS. Mangini knows how to get fans on board and there is only one way. If he wins, the fans will love him. They will not care how he did it. Look at Uncle Bill as the perfect example. He is the same asshole he was when he coached here. Now that he has won in New England, his fans love him. Bill is heartless. He cuts and trades his favorite players and he makes no excuses. I understand that Eric is not Bill. Honestly I like that too. Bill learned from his mistakes here and I think Eric will learn from his mistakes in New York. You coach to the fans and you will get fired. Do it your own way and win then the fans will come on board.

I don't know if it will translate on Sundays but I like how Mangini has already made this team his team. Romeo never seemed in charge. Butch Davis was all sizzle with no steak. I don't see Mangini quitting. The media wants to paint him as another Little Bill disciple who can't do it on his own. But Mangini got the Jets into the playoffs in two years and they were set to do it again last year until Favre's arm injury. The guy is obviously bright. He has already made adjustments such as how he has handled Shaun Rogers. He may fail but he is going to fail doing it his way. He has a plan and expects to execute it.

I am on board -- not that he cares. Let's play ball.