There will be no more awkward handshakes between Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick — at least here in New York.
The Jets fired Mangini this morning, one day after the team’s 24-17 loss to the AFC East champion Miami Dolphins. Owner Woody Johnson said the final decision came last night, but he’d been thinking about it for some time now.
Following Sunday’s game, Mangini’s eyes look watery, as if he knew the axe was inevitably going to fall. But despite this, Mangini said he thought his time in Jets green would last another season. (Mangini had one year left on a three-year contract.)
“You wish there was one thing and say that’s the issue,” Mangini said Sunday evening. “But it’s never one thing when you win; it’s never one thing when you lose.”
The Jets started the season 8-3, but went 1-4 in their final five games and missed the postseason for the second straight year. Even if New York had beaten Miami they’d still be suffering the same fate due to wins by the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.
Mangini was 23-26 in three seasons. The Jets job was his first as a head coach after serving as an assistant with the Ravens (1996), Jets (1997-99) and Patriots (2000-05).
The firing comes less than five months after the Jets traded for future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. The 39-year-old said he enjoyed playing under Mangini.
“I had a lot of fun with Eric; I really respect him,” Favre said. “There wasn’t anything I didn’t enjoy about (our time). I just wish it could have gone on further.”
Favre’s future with the team is uncertain. The Jets hope he’ll return for a 19th season, but Favre plans on taking some time before making a decision.
“Am I old and gray? I don’t know,” Favre said. “If that’s the case, then it’s time for me to do something else.”
This morning Favre will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder. He said there’s pain in the back of it that shoots down the forearm to his elbow, and sometimes into his neck.
“I’m 39. I don’t want to have a bunch of surgeries to continue to play,” he said.
Favre admitted that he played through pain the entire season, but hopes his arm had no role in the Jets falling short of the playoffs.
“It would be easy to sit here and make excuses. I’m sure there were times during the year I felt like I could make the throws and didn’t. I hope it was not a factor in some of my throws this year,” Favre, who finished the season with 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, said.
The only decision Favre has left to make is whether to come back for the final year of his contract. Still, despite last off-season’s retiring-then-return, Favre can’t promise he’ll make up his mind and stick to it.
“I do know this: You never know, you never know. I think we’ve all made decisions at one point or another in our lives and you’ve thought it was a done deal. It’s funny how your mind wanders, changes, you argue with yourself, whatever.”
If Favre does return, it should be with the Jets.
“One thing about Mike, Woody and Eric, I felt like I was wanted here. They went all out and that was a good feeling.”
The Jets will be ecstatic is Favre extends his post-retirement career. If he does, it will be under his third head coach in three years.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any unfinished business here,” Favre said.