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Hartford, Connecticut (CT)

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Eric Mangini

Eric Mangini

Class of 1989

Jets rookie head man Eric Mangini is 35, the youngest coach in the NFL. Is this so bad? Depends on how you look at it. Sure, some of his players might be as old as he is, but how old do you think Tom Landry was when he got his first job? That's right, 35

Mangini is a graduate of Bulkeley High School in Hartford, Connecticut and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, the son-in-law of renowned sports agent Ronald M. Shapiro, and the brother-in-law of Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro. He played football in high school as a linebacker and later at Wesleyan University. Mangini played Nose Tackle at Wesleyan and set a school record with 36.5 career sacks, also ranking second in school history in total tackles. Mangini coached a semi-pro team in Melbourne, Australia during a semester abroad. His former head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots graduated from Wesleyan as well, and the two were brothers in the Chi Psi Fraternity.[citation needed]

Mangini worked his way up in the NFL under the tutelage of Bill Belichick. He began his career as a ball boy with Cleveland at the age of 23, and later became an intern in the public relations. While working as a ball boy, he was often quoted as saying "no job is too small in the NFL." He worked 18 hours a day in the PR department, and at night he took copies of stats in the copyroom. Bill Belichick, at the time the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, found him there, and liked him so much that he asked the general manager if they had another job for him. Mangini was given the smallest coaching job in the Browns, putting film together for the coordinators.
Eric Mangini was named the 14th full-time head coach of the New York Jets on Jan. 17, 2006. He rejoins the Jets following six seasons with the New England Patriots, the first five of which he served as the defensive backs coach for the Patriots before being promoted to defensive coordinator following the head coaching appointment of Romeo Crennel (Cleveland Browns) following the 2004 season. Mangini previously served as an assistant coach on head coach Bill Parcells' staff with the Jets from 1997-99, during which he worked primarily as the Jets' defensive assistant/quality control coach and worked closely with Bill Belichick, who was the Jets' assistant head coach/secondary. Mangini was also responsible for advance opponent film breakdowns and analysis.

In 1999, the Jets defense ranked third in the AFC with 24 interceptions, the team's highest total since 1969 (29). The defensive backs recorded 18 of those 24 interceptions. In 1998, the Jets defense surrendered just 16.6 points per game, ranking third in franchise history and helping the Jets to a 12-4 overall record and their first division title.

Mangini, a coaching veteran of 14 seasons, will be entering his 12th season in the NFL and his first as a head coach. Mangini, 35, becomes the second youngest current NFL head coach, with Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden the only head coach to be hired at a younger age (34) with Oakland in 1998. Mangini has been a part of five division titles, three conference titles and three Super Bowl championships in his highly successful career. In his first five seasons with the Patriots, he tutored a secondary that earned five Pro Bowl selections and evolved into one of the NFL's most successful defensive backfields, and in 2005 he oversaw a defense that was struck especially hard in the secondary by injuries to rebound late in the season, capture the AFC East title and advance to the AFC Divisional Playoff round.

The performance of the Patriots secondary and its ability to succeed despite key injuries earned high acclaim in 2004. Due to injuries, Mangini had to utilize nine different starters and converted a linebacker and a wide receiver into defensive backs as the Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four seasons. Following season-ending injuries to each of the opening-day starting cornerbacks, second-year pro Asante Samuel and undrafted rookie Randall Gay stepped in and started 23 games combined, including all three playoff contests. At safety, Rodney Harrison provided strong veteran leadership to the young unit, while Eugene Wilson's versatility allowed him to contribute at safety and cornerback.

Mangini's tutelage helped wide receiver Troy Brown, in his 12th season in New England, learn to play cornerback when the secondary was depleted by injuries. Brown responded by tying for second on the team with three interceptions and recorded 17 tackles to go along with his 17 receptions on offense. Linebacker Don Davis was also used in the secondary, starting at safety for the final two games of the regular season.

Despite the personnel changes, the secondary was a crucial part of the Patriots' success, especially in the playoffs. During the regular season, seven different defensive backs recorded at least one interception and DBs accounted for half of the team's 36 takeaways. In the postseason, defensive backs recorded six interceptions in three games, with Harrison accounting for four picks, including one returned for a touchdown.

The secondary was an integral part of a dominating defense that led the NFL in 2003 by allowing a franchise-record 14.9 points per game as the Patriots ended the season with 15 consecutive wins, including the Super Bowl XXXVIII title. New England's pass defense led the NFL in four key categories: interceptions (29), fewest touchdown receptions allowed (11), opponents' passer rating (56.2) and pass deflections (121). The Patriots' 29 interceptions were the second-most in franchise history and the most by a Patriots team in 40 years (1963, 31 picks). In the 2003 regular season the Patriots gave up just one pass play of over 50 yards and did not give up a rushing play longer than 23 yards.

Mangini was able to help guide the secondary to success in 2003 despite the fact that only one of the top five defensive backs was with the team in 2002. In all, the 2003 secondary produced 21 interceptions and 73 pass defenses — an improvement of 13 interceptions and 41 pass deflections over the 2002 unit. The secondary also played a key part in the Patriots' postseason success, with Ty Law recording three interceptions in the AFC Championship Game and Harrison picking off a pair of postseason passes.

In 2002, the secondary produced three of the team's top five tacklers in Lawyer Milloy (91 tackles), Victor Green (84) and Ty Law (77). Collectively, the defense forced 29 turnovers, including 18 interceptions. Nineteen of those 29 turnovers were credited to the secondary.

In 2001, the Patriots defense was again among the stingiest in franchise history and one of the most opportunistic in the NFL, allowing just 17 points per game as many potential opponent scoring drives ended in turnovers. The Patriots recorded 35 takeaways, including 22 interceptions (12 more than in 2000). Five of those 22 interceptions were returned for touchdowns, which led the NFL, and defensive backs scored all five touchdowns. Law added another interception in Super Bowl XXXVI that he returned 47 yards for a touchdown.

Mangini's first coaching opportunity came in 1995 as an assistant on Belichick's staff in Cleveland. Ted Marchibroda retained him when the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1996, working as a quality control/offensive assistant. The Ravens averaged 357.7 yards per game during the 1996 season, third-highest in the NFL.


Mangini played nose tackle and earned four letters (1989-90, '92-93) at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He set a school record with 36.5 sacks, including 22 during his final two seasons. When he graduated in 1993, he ranked second in school history in total tackles. He was voted a first-team all-star by NESCAC and ECAC-New England Division III. He also earned All-America third-team and All-East Coast honors in 1992-93. He graduated from Wesleyan in 1994 with a degree in political science.


Eric Mangini was born on Jan. 19, 1971, in Hartford, Conn. He attended Bulkeley (Conn.) High, where he received the Brian Piccolo Award for outstanding athletic and academic achievement and was named the Scholar Athlete of the Year as a senior. As an undergraduate at Wesleyan, he spent the second semester of his junior and senior years studying abroad in Melbourne, Australia, where he was the head coach/defensive coordinator for the Kew Colts, a semi-professional football team. He also worked as an intern for the New England Crusaders, a minor league football team in his hometown of Hartford. In 1998, he received the scholar-athlete award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (Northern Connecticut Chapter).

Each year, Eric and fellow Connecticut native Tebucky Jones host a one-day football fundamentals minicamp in Hartford. The camp was first held in 2002 and has grown each year, giving athletes in grades 8-12 a chance to be taught by some of the NFL's top players and coaches. A staff of over 30 NFL coaches and players has taught hundreds of students during the one-day session. The camp raises money for the Carmine & Frank Mangini Foundation, which supports children's causes in the Greater Hartford area.

Eric and his wife, Julie, have two sons, Jake and Luke.

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