January 23, 2009

Jim Nantz bullish on Eric Mangini

Courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal, great stuff from Jim Nantz the other day at the Cleveland Sports Awards banquet. Here's the relevant text:

Emcee of the ninth annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on Wednesday night at the Renaissance hotel, Nantz made certain the cameras caught his guarantee.

''I'm calling it now,'' Nantz said. ''Eric Mangini is taking the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl.''

When Mangini joined Nantz on stage a few minutes later to present an award, Nantz asked Mangini, ''You're not mad at me for that? I believe in you.''

Nantz called play-by-play for several New York Jets games during Mangini's three-year tenure and got to know him during pregame production meetings. Nantz believes the Jets made a mistake in firing Mangini, who went 23-25 with two winning seasons and one playoff appearance.

''If he's a stock, I'm buying,'' Nantz said. ''I believe the Jets gave up on him way too early. From 10 wins to four wins to nine wins . . . what people don't realize is that [quarterback Brett] Favre played the back end of [last] season with a torn bicep, basically his bicep hanging by a thread. He wasn't the same guy the second half of the year. Mangini didn't use that as an excuse.

''This guy is maniacal about detail. Kind of like I am and I appreciate it. Nothing gets past him. He'll do well here. It's a nice fit, too, his history, his brother-in-law [Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro], to get away from that whole New York microscope, that meat grinder.''

Wow, I don't think I've heard anything that bold out of Nantz's mouth in all the years I've been listening to him. He's all but guaranteeing that Mangini is going to take the Browns to the Bowl. And Nantz even tips his own cap in saying that Mangini is "maniacal about detail" just like himself!

I actually agree with him about Mangini to some degree (although way too premature to start talking about the Super Bowl). Mangini is a smart guy, he has his eye on some good assistants and a good personnel guy from Baltimore who is from the Bellichick tree, and I get the impression that a lot of his players really liked him in New York. Leon Washington was raving about Mangini and saying that he basically made him into the players that he is today. He got a bad rap in New York, and Cleveland might turn out to be a better fit for him.

Should be interesting to see what happens in the AFC North over the next decade. Pittsburgh is the gold standard, but we'll have to see what happens with Baltimore. It seems like every team in the NFL has been trying to raid their personnel department and coaching staff and even Ray Lewis, so we'll have to see if they can withstand those losses. I think the Browns could be in position to make a move in the division.

I'll say one thing about Brady Quinn. I know he's been hurt and such, but it's time for him to step up and take that job. The Browns are practically begging for him to take the reins of this franchise, but he hasn't done it yet. Brady is heading into his 3rd year. Time to grow up and become the man for that franchise.

I had no idea that Mangini's brother-in-law is Indians' GM Mark Shapiro. What a family!

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