Big Baby Stops Crying in Public: Where is the Credit for Mangini?


Mangini is a big boy;  and he should expect to be criticized often given his position.  But should he not also get some credit every now and then when his approach seems to be successful?

Remember the Rogers-Mangini debacle that confronted the Browns shortly after Eric took the helm?  If you have forgotten or were under a rock at the time, here is a link to Bud Shaw’s piece in the Pittsburgh Daily (aka Plain Dealer).

 http://www.cleveland.com/sports/plaindealer/bud_shaw/index.ssf?/base/sports/123564068563660.xml&coll=2

Apparently, Rogers was miffed that Mangini did not recognize him publicly at a banquet and did not greet him in the locker room.

I read scores of criticism of Mangini afterwards including persistent complaining about how he was mishandling the situation and should just apologize.  The sky was falling at the hands of Mangini whom in the eyes of some was dressed in the Devil’s clothing and was bent on costing the Browns their best player.

Now, many weeks later, Rogers is out at a banquet in Akron with fellow Brown, Brandon McDonald, receiving an award and speaking positively about the Team.  The cynics will point out that Rogers was simply placating, but that misses the point.  The trade talks have vanished;  Shaun is attending workouts;  and in public (at least), Shaun has stopped making waves.  Yet Mangini seems to get no credit for his subdued approach to the situation and his refusal to bow down to Rogers’ bruised ego.

Rogers was our best player last season, and he deserved his Pro Bowl appearance.  Mangini, however, is not the type of coach to coddle to the players (any of them).

Can you imagine if the criticism of this perceived “tough” approach by Mangini was applied to far greater and legendary sports coaches of the past?  They would have never had a chance to build what they did.  Take Lombardi for example.  Who has not watched some of that old sideline footage of Lombardi berating players for all to see?  Or those press clips where Lombardi appears awfully demanding and somewhat distant from the players?  Yet Lombardi is considered to be one of the greatest coaches in sports history.  

A few of the followers of this website may be hockey fans.  Toe Blake is one of the most winning coaches in NHL history and the greatest coach in Montreal Canadiens history.  This is a man who refused to allow his star goaltender, Jacques Plante, to wear a face mask because it might interfere with his vision while pucks were being blasted at his head.  The man was a menace in the locker room, and he always made a point of maintaining a thick line between he and his superstar players (and there were dozens of them over the years on the way to a string of Stanley Cup Championships).

Look at “the Tuna”.  When everyone else was down on their hands and knees praying to Jason Taylor’s dancing prowess, Parcells told him to take a hike until he wanted to play football.

Mangini is a far cry from these coaches of the past, and he needs to win on the field to attract some sympathy about his quirks, but his basic approach to dealing with players should not be criticized simply because it is cold and very different than the love-fest that has prevailed for the past several years in Brownstown.

Our own Dawg hero, Paul Brown, is the best example of toughness in football coaching.  He demanded a dress code from every player.  He demanded certain public behaviour like no smoking.  In 1949, after his team lost for the first time in 30 games, he was asked how proud he was of the 29-game winning streak.  His response was to remind the players that they had just become a weaker team and that nobody was immune from being sold to another owner.  Talk about tough.  Brown’s approach was modelled by some of the very best coaches in NFL history that came after him, including Tom Landry in Dallas.

This may sound funny, but I actually think that Mangini’s approach has started to influence Lerner.  The statement that the Browns just released on the Cribbs situation was something unheard of under the old regime.  A shot across the bow, even to a stupid agent who shoots his mouth off, is very uncharacteristic of Lerner.  Even more surprising was the inclusion of Randy’s name specifically in the statement – that did not happen without Lerner’s approval.  And now the player agent says that Cribbs wants to be traded if a new contract is not offered?  Josh is a great special teams player and has the potential to become much more, but for the Team to be held hostage by his agent is absurd.  Hold your ground, Randy.  Josh may be out at a banquet in a few weeks too.

Cheers.  Go Browns!

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