EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Patriots

December 19, 2007

Time for Belichick to forgive and forget

Bill Belichick mistakes, pertaining to the game of football, come along about once every drop-kick.



Somewhere Doug Flutie is warming up his right leg.



Belichick's halfhearted postgame handshake and his muttering - either "good game or good luck," according to Jets coach Eric Mangini - is just the latest faux pas in a long list of them for the Patriots' coach.



Not to be judgmental, but Bill, you messed up.



Call Mangini and make this right. You swept him handily. You're on your way to making history, partly at Mangini's expense.



Not later, right now. Forgive and forget.



Believe it or not, Eric Mangini is vital to Bill Belichick.



Here's why.



With all the wins and most likely a fourth Super Bowl title on the way, Belichick is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, belonging right next to Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll in the most elite coaching company.



But he leaves no legacy after the victories and the defeats.



He does not ooze the charisma of Lombardi.



He's not an icon or innovator like Landry.



He's not attached to one institution, taking on its heart-and-soul as Noll did with the Steelers.



Take Bill Walsh. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you say the name?



"West Coast offense." Absolutely.



That and the legendary coaching tree attached to it from Mike Holmgren on down - they revolutionized the NFL game. The number of current and former NFL head coaches, leading back to Walsh is 28 and counting.



Mangini is Belichick's baby.



He's got no history in the game, just a football junkie, who played a little ball at Wesleyan, hooked on with Belichick as a 23-year-old ball boy in Cleveland and slowly climbed the NFL ladder.



Mangini is no ex-jock. He's a crazed tactician, like his former boss. Walking off the Gillette Stadium turf, Mangini was miserably cold, frustrated from the loss and disgusted from being pelted with snow.



The Jets' second-year coach, now 36, still was busy, accepting notes and scraps of paper from various assistants about the game.



Aside from the weight, Mangini is the young Belichick. Instead of holding a grudge Bill should be proud.



New York can be a fickle town, but sticking with him for the long haul is the best move that franchise could make.



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