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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Greetings, Eric Mangini....









We have been waiting for you.

We are the ghosts of a near and distant past. We are your predecessors. You thought your place in history would be different from ours. You were wrong.

We are lonely in this place. Join us, Eric. Join us. You are among the kindred.


Well, hey, kid. That's right. Weeb Ewbank. They called me "Weeb" because my little brother couldn't pronounce the name "Wilbur."

You like this? I'll bet you do. It's my Hall of Fame bust. Bet you'd like one, wouldn't you? Well, the world needs also-rans, kiddo. No offense. Literally.

I was the very first Jets coach, so I guess you could say that I am the father of this bunch. The only Jets' Super Bowl win is my work, and Namath's, of course. That boy was a crackerjack. But then I sold away many of the great players on that team because I wanted to save money. As punishment, I've been forced to walk around this place carrying this very same bronze resemblance that the Super Bowl earned me. One thing's for sure, though. This thing is Super Heavy. You wanna hold it for me? Just for a few minutes? Where you going?

Hello, Eric. I'm Charley Winner. No need to stay. You can keep on walking. Weeb might consider himself the father of us all, but I got the Jets' job because I was his son-in-law. Weeb won't admit to this, but like you, he didn't finish with a winning record as a Jets coach, either.

Of course, neither did I. I was around for two and a half seasons, and then they let me go when my players started fighting like a bunch of teenagers on the sidelines of a really bad loss at Baltimore in 1975. Ken Shipp took over for a couple of games, but who cares, right? It was a wash. I was a winning coach with the Cardinals organization in the 60's. Did you know that? Try naming anyone else other than Don Coryell who managed that. That's a different circle of hell, though. But fate was cruel to me. A Winner became a loser with the Jets. Sound familiar?

Hey! Anyone want to play coach? Ha! Just kidding, son, just kidding! You're probably not in the mood right now. You never seem to be.

Ah, but you have to admit - you're probably a little bit relieved right now. No? Well, heck, I know I was when I quit even before the end of the 1976 season. Just couldn't take it anymore, kid. I mean, the pro game just eats dirt, spits it up and dudn't grow nothin' where it's been planted. I'm TV's Lou Holtz, by the way. Sorry. Didn't mean to be rude. They used to make fun of the way I looked. Said I looked like Granny Clampett. Well, it's not like people ain't cruel. You know they are. They said you looked like a penguin.

They said, boy, that you was a genius.

Just stick with the college game, son. Kids'll do whatever you tell 'em. Just listen to some of the fellows that came after me. They'll tell ya. Better get going now.

Next!

Next!! Oh. It's you. Hello, Mangini. You're here already, are you?

I'm Walt Michaels. That's right. Like the name tag says. You know about me. I had a long career with the the team. My brother Lou threatened to wring Joe Namath's neck the week before the 1969 Super Bowl, but I was an assistant on the winning side. And then ten years later, I was the Jets' coach.

 Those were good years. We were on the brink of something, son, but then...

Ah, damn it. That playoff win over the Raiders was my last one in the league. Damn.

 How can a playoff win get you fired? It's just that I thought Al Davis was calling on the phone to heckle me at halftime. Sounded like him. It was just some drunk guy in Queens playing games with me. How the hell does some idiot in a bar manage to get through to the Jets locker room at LA Coliseum, for Christ's sake? You tell me.

And I believed him! Whole thing got me canned. Being a Jets coach does funny things to your mind, son. Well, anyway, fill out the forms I gave you and move it along. Next!

Out of my way, please. I've got parents weekend coming up. Can't talk now. Got me lecturing a class on physical education and Humanism. I don't even know what that means.

Oh..., wait. You're that Eric Mangini kid, aren't you? I'm Joe Walton. Pleased to me you. I coached the Jets from '83-'89. Yeah, sorry to hear about your troubles, son, but you know what they say.

No? Oh. Well, it's like what Lou Holtz said about the pro game. Can't...uh, grow shit, or something like that. That guy's a raving lunatic.

Anyway, he's right. I spent seven seasons of my career with the Jets. Can you imagine? I had to coach Mark Gastineau. Yeah. Exactly. Now, I've been coaching at Robert Morris University for almost 15 years, right here in western PA, where I grew up. It's been great. Named a stadium after me. Say, maybe someday you could coach a college team back home in Connecticut. Some pansy Liberal Arts college that needs to start offering football scholarships along with the rest of America. Like Yale, maybe, huh? Well, anyway, it's been nice chatting, but I have to go. Some kid's failing his Shakespeare seminar midterm. You know anything about King Lear, Mangini? Something about an old guy who's going insane near the end of his career. I keep telling those damn kids to just read the SparkNotes. Numbnuts.

Hey! Psst! Over here!

Hey, Mangini. Let me ask you something. Honestly. Is there something funny? Something that's making you laugh? Are you laughing? Why the hell not? I am. I mean, I spent sleepless nights trying to build the Jets into a competitive franchise once all the Michaels-Walton players wasted away. I was a rebuilding coach, Bruce Coslet, from '90-'93. The Jets let me dig my own grave for four seasons before I got canned. And what did we get out of it? One lousy playoff loss to the Oilers in 1991. And that year we went 8-8.

Hilarious, right? Look me up on Wikipedia one of those days. Under "References" - right? - there's one 2007 article from ESPN that puts nine losing teams under the "Bruce Coslet Division." Funny, right? Oh, real funny. I don't care what they say about you, pudge. There probably won't be an "Eric Mangini Division" for the lowliest of the low.

Ah, forget it. Just leave me alone. There's more of us down the hall. Just keep walking.

To be continued....

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