|Eric Mangini has 'a lot of regrets' about the whole Spygate thing. We suspect Bill Belichick does too. (Getty Images)|
Eric Mangini owes much of his professional success to Bill Belichick, dating back to the mid '90s when the former was a ball boy in Cleveland and the latter was a coach. In 2000, Belichick hired Mangini as a defensive backs coach in New England. In February 2005, as the Patriots were preparing to face the Eagles in the Super Bowl (their third trip since the 2001 season), the New York Daily News profiled Mangini's ascension up the coaching ranks.
"As defensive backs coach for the Patriots this year, Mangini oversaw the rebuilding and fortification of a decimated secondary, using spare parts," the Daily News' Hank Gola noted. "With Romeo Crennel expected to leave after Super Bowl XXXIX to take a long-awaited head coaching job with the Browns, Mangini is the odds-on candidate to take over as defensive coordinator. That's if there isn't a bidding war for his services.
"Know this, however: When the Raiders offered him their coordinator's job last season, he turned it down to stay on Belichick's staff.
"'It just wasn't the right time personally or professionally for the opportunity,' the baby-faced 34-year-old said. 'I was really happy where I was and I thought it was the best decision for my family and myself. I've really enjoyed where I am. I love the organization and being part of it.'"
Mangini was promoted to defensive coordinator a few weeks after the Super Bowl, and in 2006, he took the Jets head coaching job. That's where things took a turn for the worse. During the 2007 Week 1 matchup against the Patriots, Mangini accused Belichick of videotaping the Jets' defensive signals, the league investigated, and eventually fined Belichick $500,000, the Patriots $250,000, and took their 2008 first-round pick for good measure.
Needless to say, things were a little awkward between Belichick and Mangini after that.
Mangini was fired by the Jets in 2008, and lasted just two seasons in Cleveland before landing a gig as an ESPN analyst. During a radio interview Tuesday with Boston radio's WEEI, Mangini talked about Spygate and his relationship with Belichick.
"It's one of those things where the end result wasn't the goal," Mangini said of the scandal. "I owe so much to Bill, I appreciate what he's done for me and my intention was never to hurt him or the [Patriots] organization, the Kraft family. Yeah, there's a lot of regrets, I didn't want to hurt him or the Patriots by any stretch."
Sounds nice, but we imagine Belichick has a tough time buying that given the way things played out back in '07. As for how things are between the two, Mangini said, "Probably like the New England defense, it's a work in progress."
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