ESPN Tangles Jets-Patriots On-Air Talent

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ESPN may love Boston teams, but when it comes to on-air football talent, it also seemingly has a thing for former members of the New England Patriots’ rivals, the J-E-T-S.

Former No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft wideout Keyshawn Johnson, who recently added a weekly pro football radio show on ESPN Sports KSPN in Los Angeles to his duties, and ex-NFL coach Herm Edwards both have J-E-T-S entries on their resumes. They were joined this week on the Bristol roster by another pair that have donned the green and white, Eric Mangini and recently retired offensive lineman Damien Woody, who finished his career under Rex Ryan in New York.

It should be noted that both Mangenius (many in the Cleveland and New York DMAs may prefer another moniker) and Woody, who has a couple of Super Bowl rings to show for it, also spent time with the Patriots spying under the hoodie with Bill Belichick.

After getting sacked as coach in Cleveland — like his sparkling wit and love for the media, it’s another commonality Mangini shares with the Pats’ dour head coach genius, for whom he worked with on the Browns — Mangini served as a guest analyst on ESPN leading up to last season’s Wild Card matchup won by the J-E-T-S in Foxborough.

Now, Mangini will be quartered in Connecticut, where someone fashioned the following funnies - “With my reputation for access and ease with the media, it seems like a natural fit”… and … “As for my new role, I have been preparing diligently, by picking out tribal tattoos for my lower leg and doing triple shots of espresso to match Herm Edwards’ energy level” - for his arrival.

Moreover, Mangini, as did Belichick, also has plenty of time earned under former NFL coach and executive Bill Parcells, during his days with the NYJ. Parcells, of course, was Belichick’s boss with the New York Giants, which won Super Bowl XXI and XXV. Following his 1991-95 failure in Cleveland, Belichick joined the Tuna in New England during 1996, when they lost to Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. The two and much of the rest of the Pats staff then hightailed it to the Jets from 1997-99.

After Parcells didn’t like the man he saw in the mirror, he kept his GM gig, but jettisoned himself as head coach. Belichick was appointed in his stead, but infamously wrote “I resign as HC of the NYJ” on a piece of paper before he was introduced at a press conference the following day. In 2000, Belichick, with Mangini in tow as a defensive backs coach, succeeded Pete Carroll — who had been the head man for Jets in 1994 — to become the BMOC for Bob Kraft in Foxborough.

For his part, Parcells, who also coached Keyshawn as a J-E-T, has spent two stints on the Bristol announce beat and aired a pre-draft special earlier this year. Given the tangle of the two franchises, one can only assume there’s a seat waiting on the set for the bubbly one in Bristol, when Tom Brady retires or he ever texts “I resign as HC of the NEP.” Maybe, Mangini and Belichick would exhibit the studio version of the dead-fish handshake they exhibited following the Jets-Pats meetings on the field.

On a weekend when ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball showcases the New York Yankees invading Fenway, here’s another tangle query: Why isn’t Curtis Martin working for the worldwide leader?

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