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Here’s hoping Joe Judge outdoes New York’s last Belichick boy wonder: Eric Mangini

2020-01-16

They’re always the perfect guy coming in the door. This time it’s Joe Judge. Perfect coaching pedigree. Belichick and Saban. Killed it in the interview. Won the press conference. This means they’re all saying pretty much the same things about Judge they once said about Eric Mangini, back when he was the boy wonder off Belichick’s staff.

Oh, sure. Here is what Jets owner Woody Johnson said about Mangini when the Jets got him out of New England:

“He’s got a strong pedigree,” Johnson said at the time. “He’s been a major contributor to a very successful organization. The most important thing is he demonstrated to us a passion for football, a passion for teaching. He knows something about the culture of football that appealed to us.”

Of course this doesn’t mean that Judge is Mangini. It’s just worth remembering that there was a time when Mangini was the same 30-something hot kid off Belichick’s staff that Judge is now.

Oh, you can tell how much John Mara and Dave Gettleman and (VP of Football Operations) Kevin Abrams were swept away by their interview with Judge. By all accounts – and the Giants PR machine has been working overtime on this one this week, on a guy hardly anybody except Belichick knew a lot about last week – Judge absolutely killed it in his interview, hands down. You want to know the last guy in the big city who did that in an interview?

Mickey Callaway.

The Jets once thought Mangenius was the Next Thing. The Mets thought the same thing about Mickey Callaway, who during his interview practically had them at hello. Now the Giants feel that way about 38-year-old Joe Judge. You know why? Because they are desperate to find the Next Thing. Or Next Parcells.

It just doesn’t happen around here all that often. This is about the endless search for the Next Parcells. He was the assistant no one knew much about and then George Young hired him and Bill survived 3-12-1, and set about changing the modern history of the New York Giants. Jeff Van Gundy was an assistant under Pat Riley and Don Nelson that only the players really knew about when Dave Checketts fired Nelson and replaced him with Van Gundy. He never won a title with the Knicks. But he should have won in 1997 and he made it to the Finals in 1999 and even with an old wounded team in 2000, the Knicks made it to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in six to the Pacers.

“I’m gonna give it to Jeff,” Checketts said at the time. The rest was more great Knicks history in the 90s, even if they didn’t take home their first title since 1973.

All these owners fire up a prayer and hope it works. The Yankees took a shot on Joe Torre after he’d lost three managing jobs in his life, including the Mets as player-manager. And Joe became one of the greatest managers in Yankees history, which is saying plenty. He was even more than that. He was one of the great top managers in all of pro sports at this time, changing not just the course of Yankees history, but changing their brand, too. There is no way, even now, to quantify how much he meant.

The Jets haven’t had that guy in 50 years. The Mets had Davey Johnson in the 80s, and he became the first Mets manager since Gil Hodges to win it all. The Knicks keep looking for somebody to carry things the way Van Gundy did after Pat Riley had faxed his way down to South Beach after the 1995 season.

Terry Collins went to a World Series five years ago. Rex Ryan twice came within a victory of taking the Jets back to the Super Bowl. The Jets thought he was going to be a game changer. He wasn’t in the end. You know how the Giants have done since the reign of Tom Coughlin, whom the Giants hired not long after he’d taken the Jaguars to the AFC championship game in their second year of operation. First it was Ben McAdoo who was going to be their boy wonder, as they gave Coughlin a shove toward the door. Then it was going to be Pat Shurmur.

Now they are head over heels in love with Judge, and boy, all you have to be able to do is read a paper or turn on the radio and television, because there has been a non-stop cycle letting you know just how much. It’s reached the point where you get the idea that if they’d talked to Judge first, Mike McCarthy would never have gotten into the room, and they never would have scheduled an interview with Matt Rhule, who was covered like the Giants’ heart’s desire until he sure wasn’t. The Giants sound as giddy talking about that interview with Judge as if it were a first date.

They hope this will work, with the 38-year-old coach and the 68-year-old general manager. Throw up a prayer. Without any idea whether this latest plan will work or not. No one ever knows in sports. They talk themselves into hiring the guy they want and then they set about talking their fans into it, something the Giants have been in overdrive doing. And somehow Judge is being covered by people who knew nothing about him last week and treat him like a young Lombardi this week.

Listen, I grew up a Giants fan. I hope they got lucky with Judge the way they did with Parcells once. But if you think this process unrolled in an orderly way, you’re getting rolled here.

One more history lesson. Here’s what Mangini, Belichick guy, said after being hired by the Jets, at this time when we hear so much about Judge being a part of three Patriots teams that won the Super Bowl, and talks about having worked with both Belichick and Nick Saban:

"I've I've been on three Super Bowl. "I've been with two of the greatest football minds in NFL history. I've got an extensive foundation to build the Jets into a Super Bowl-caliber franchise."

Sound familiar? Nobody cares who won the interview or the press conference. Just who wins the most games.

Seriously?

The pivots that people have made on Joe Judge over the past several days should eventually get official names, like figure skating moves.

Dave Gettleman keeps saying how long he’s been doing this.

And he has been in pro football a long time.

But he ran one team – the Panthers – before he got to Jersey, and got fired a year-and-a-half after the Panthers were in the Super Bowl.

How do Steve Mills and Scott Perry convince Dolan that Kevin Knox drafted himself?

One more thing on the Knicks:

How many of those moral victories we keep reading and hearing about did they get on that 0-4 trip through the Wild West?

I know they got one against the Clippers, on a day when Kawhi Leonard didn’t play.

That one was the moral victory where our kids gave up 135 points and three guys on the Clippers went for 30 points or more.

“Imminent attack” is the new weapons of mass destruction if you’re keeping score at home.

First they told us that they had to kill this guy Soleimana because he was planning an imminent attack.

Then the president said he had targeted one of our embassies.

By Friday it was up to four.

One time in London for Wimbledon, I went to watch the World Cup at a place near Trafalgar Square called the Texas Embassy Cantina.

It’s closed now.

But by next week, we’re going to hear that Soleimana was going to bomb that, too.

I’m sorry, did Patrick Reed get penalized for improving his lie in that tournament in the Bahamas, or stick up a 7-Eleven?

We keep referring to Wild Boar Cespedes spread in Florida as being “his” ranch.

Not to make too fine a point of this, but isn’t it more like the Mets’ ranch at this point?

If you’ve been following the coverage over the past few days, it’s heartwarming to see how many new friends Gettleman has made in the media after blowing everybody off for seven months.

Somebody catch me up: When did sign stealing in baseball turning into cyber-warfare?

You know what has become the great head fake of professional sports?

The Rooney Rule in the National Football League.

This happens to be just the latest hiring cycle for head coaches in which the league stays at white as ever on the sideline.

You know who got it right in the last hiring cycle when an African-American coach was given a shot?

The Dolphins, with Brian Flores, once Belichick’s coordinator with the Patriots.

All he did, in a season when the Dolphins were expected to tank their way to 2020, was as good a coaching job as anybody over the second half of the season.

Say it again:

Jeter ought to be on 100 percent of the ballots.

Same as Mo.

One more week to Season 10 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Pretty…..pretty…..pretty good.