When ESPN hired former Jets and Browns head coach as an NFL analyst, there was a collective "huh" from sports fandom. Mangini was widely known as one of the least personable and least liked individuals in all of pro football. Headlines like "How to Lose Friends and Irritate People" doesn't exactly scream "likable television star."
But then a funny thing happened – over the last couple years Mangini actually developed into a venerable analyst at ESPN. With the small batallion of NFL analysts available in Bristol, it's very easy to get lost in the shuffle (how ya doin, Jerry Rice, Damien Woody, Matt Light, etc.). Nevertheless, once he got comfortable in front of the TV cameras, he blossomed into a straight-talking sensible voice in a world often filled with cacophonous noise.
Now, Mangini is leaving ESPN to return to coaching as an offensive consultant with the San Francisco 49ers. From Cam Inman of the Mercury News…
"Eric Mangini, a former Browns and Jets coach, has been hired by the 49ers to serve as a senior offensive consultant, a league source confirmed.
Mangini, 42, will be asked to use his defensive insights in helping the 49ers’ offensive staff prepare for their NFC title defense.
Mangini spent the past two seasons as an ESPN analyst. He attended one of the 49ers’ practices in Youngstown, Ohio, during the 2011 season, and he has a long history of working with Brad Seely, the 49ers assistant head coach and special teams coordinator."
Before First Take became the nightmare that is Embrace Debate, Eric Mangini was actually one of the bright spots of the show. He was given a forum with Jay Crawford to show off his X's and O's inisghts and was often a voice of reason in the insanity of that torture chamber when matched up with Bayless and the clown show. Really, it's a shame that ESPN didn't feature Mangini more prominently as he really evolved into not just a decent analyst, but a decent television personality – and who would have ever thought that when he first arrived in Bristol? It somewhat reminds me of how Jeff Van Gundy revealed a completely new side of himself once he stepped behind the microphone. If anything, Eric Mangini should serve as an example of just how much a brief spell in television can help someone's public image.