I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas

October 27 - Eric_Mangini(3) Earlier this year, I engendered the wrath of Cleveland Browns fans by suggesting that erstwhile Jets coach and newly-named Browns Coach Eric Mangini was bad news. I asked the rhetorical question, 'Why do sports teams keep recycling losers?'

Mangini was the latest in a long line of mediocre and just plain bad football, baseball and basketball managers and coaches who, inexplicably, keep landing new, higher paying jobs despite a history of failure. I went on to suggest such a thing simply wouldn't happen in business industry. When CEOs fail, they rarely turn up at the top of another firm; instead, they usually start their own hedge fund or venture capital firm with the cash from their severance packages.

Not so with pro football. Take a gander at this season and the performance of Mangini and his Browns. They're 1-6 after being drubbed on Sunday by the Packers, 31-3. And, what was Mangini's comment after the game? 'I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas.' My comment? He's delusional. Could you imagine a CEO saying something similar to Wall Street analysts after a disastrous quarterly earnings report?

Mangini made the same sort of absurd comments as the Jets lost game after game at the end of last season. He was always pointing to progress on one side of the football while the team was collapsing on the other.

Mangini reminds me of former Mets Manager Willie Randolph who, during the team's historic collapse at the end of 2007 season, kept pointing to the positives: 'We saw some great pitching tonight. All we needed were some clutch hits,' or 'The guys were hitting the cover off the ball. We just need more consistency from our bullpen,' or my personal favorite: 'These losses will make winning the division and sipping the champagne just that much sweeter.' Needless to say, the Mets never did win the division and any champagne that was consumed was probably washed down with scotch, vodka or some other sedative to ease the pain.

I'd like to see accountability come to the coaching ranks. If a guy has a proven record of losing, ditch him. Blacklist him. Suggest he become a media trainer. Send him packing. But do not do what the Cleveland Browns and countless other franchises have done with the likes of Mangini over the years. Do not recycle losers.

16 thoughts on “I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas

  1. Whether it’s big-league sports, Hollywood or the PR industry, I notice that those who fail upward have one common trait, regardless of gender or ethnicity, They belong to the same clubs, dress, talk, belong to the same clubs as, and in general parrot and toady to those who own the joints.

  2. Ha. Thanks Eric. You’re right. BTW, in my humble opinion, your career peaked when you made that cameo appearance on The Sopranos. It’s been straight downhill since then.

  3. I don’t think you have a clue what it takes to coach in the NFL. Do you know how many hours a day I work to come up with losing game plans or how much I eat to keep this figure?

  4. Point taken, Julie. The same holds true for ‘senior’ PR types who seem to bounce from one large agency failure to the next.

  5. I’m not sure Torre is an exception. One could argue that anyone could manage the talent he had with the great Yankees’ teams of the late ’90s. Regardless, the exceptions are few and far between. Mediocre managers thrive in major league sports.

  6. The “falling up” phenomenon doesn’t only apply to sports, unfortunately. It also applies to the corporate world, especially media companies…the names Jeff Zucker, Ben Silverman and NBC come to mind…

  7. Before taking over the NY Yankees in ’96, Joe Torre had some winning seasons but never a championship team with the Mets, Braves or Cards.
    Another exception to the rule?

  8. So, Gaetano, based upon upon your Kenny Rogers hold ’em, fold ’em, logic, I’m folding on Mangini and Acta. Do you disagree?

  9. In my very humble opinion I would fold on Mangini…as for Acta the jury is still out. He is very well respected in the Dominican Republic…the Nationals were not a great situation. However, the Cleveland franchise itself might be his biggest hurdle to the promised land. Let’s see how the team plays for him.

  10. The answer is Yes…if the fundamentals are correct both the stock and the coach have a great chance for success. You need to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold…that’s the mark of a great general manager. In each of the example’s the fundamentals were correct and the general manager made the right choice. Bronco fans didn’t expect much this year with a 32 year old coach…but he has out coached the Cowboys as well as his mentor Belichick and now the Broncos are 6-0…good pick Mr. General Manager.

  11. Yes, Gaetano, but those are the exceptions to the rule. Let me ask you a question: if the stock you invested in continued to drop, would you still keep pouring money into it? That’s what franchises like the Browns and Indians are doing. They’re investing money in failed stocks.

  12. Sometimes you need the right situation…Bill Belichick was a bust in Cleveland before he won 3 Super Bowl’s in New England. Mike Shanahan got run out of Denver (by Dan Reeves) and Oakland before he came back to Denver and won 2 Super Bowls. Pete Carroll was an NFL bust with the Jets and Patriots before he became a legend and won 2 NCAA Championships with USC. Someone thought they had talent when they were first hired…it took the right situation for the talent to shine.

  13. Art, can understand your point to a degree. But Mangini was with the Jets for a few years and the team ONLY showed progress after a down year. Pretty much like the stock market, which has shown signs of recovery after losing a significant amount. Most coaches receive a 4-5 year contract to “right the ship” and such was the case with Mangini. He never made it work in New York and he won’t do it in Cleveland as we stated last year when the Browns signed him. The players don’t like him and he just doesn’t have the experience. There have been a lot of great assistant coaches but once they got put into the leadership position, they haven’t been able to produce. Look at Greg Williams, who is turning the New Orleans defense around. He was solid with Tennessee as a defensive coordinator before taking the head job at Buffalo. Yet, he failed to succeed there. Will he get another shot as a head coach, don’t know. Dom Capers is another qualified DC who turned the Steelers into Blitz-burgh and then moved to Carolina. He failed there and then was the head coach of Houston and got canned there. Now he’s the defensive coordinator with Green Bay and the Packers continue to improve. By the same token, how does a guy like Matt Millen, who was the general manager of the worst team in football with the Detroit Lions going 0-16 last season, wind up as an analyst on ESPN? Sure, he was a player and then worked in the front office, but he certainly didn’t improve his team. So how credible can he be?

  14. Great points, Art. I’m speaking more about perennial losers who never seem to rise to the next level but keep landing on their feet with high-paying jobs. Mangini may yet prove me wrong (although I doubt it). BTW, another case in point is Manny Acta who, after leading the Washington Nationals to two straight last place finishes, was just rewarded with the top spot by the Cleveland Indians. What are they smoking in Cleveland?

  15. I’m kinda on the fence with this one, Rep. I hear ya, but I think your view presupposes that losers are incapable of turning into winners. Losing is rarely the result of a single issue or character flaw. I think that losers have a tendency to come back smarter and stronger, if they have the capability to learn from their mistakes. There’s value in experience. It’s up to great leaders to learn from their mistakes. To your point, though, that might mean climbing down the ladder for a bit, relearning a few things, and then working upward again.