Mangini: ball boy to boss
Introduced for the first time as Cleveland's coach, Eric Mangini stepped to the podium and his football life flashed before him.
This is where it all began.
"I feel like I should be getting some coffee or picking up some towels or something," he joked.
The ball boy returned as the boss. Mangini, fired by the New York Jets after their season finished with a December nosedive, took over the rebuilding Browns yesterday, completing a personal and professional career circle that started with him running errands in the early 1990s as an eager underling for then-Cleveland coach Bill Belichick.
The 37-year-old Mangini now has his dream job, the one he had a tough time convincing his mom was remotely possible when he came to Cleveland 14 years ago.
"I was a 23-year-old ball boy and I had to explain that to my mother," said Mangini, who signed a four-year contract. "I had student loans and it was a hard sell. I kept telling her, 'Mom, this is the Cleveland Browns. Do you understand? The Cleveland Browns.' "
Although he left to work in other NFL hot spots like Baltimore, New England, and New York, those Cleveland memories never left Mangini. So when Browns owner Randy Lerner called him last week for an interview - one day after the Jets dumped him after three seasons - Mangini knew it was time to return to his roots.
Mangini, who agreed to a four-year deal, is inheriting a team that went 4-12.