Re-Live The Game

Former fall guy takes flight

By NFL Films

Sam Spade of The Maltese Falcon was right. Every crime needs a fall guy, a patsy on whom to pin the mess. In the world of hard-boiled detectives, guilt doesn't matter much, and nuance doesn't matter at all. Same thing in the NFL.

Consider the case of Eric Mangini. Two years ago, he was the toast of New York, the Big Apple's wunderkind, the Mangenius. Forget Broadway, he scored a cameo on The Sopranos. That's the big time. But he deserved it then. Who but a genius could transform a 4-12 bunch of sad sacks into a 10-6 playoff team? And that was just his first season. Jets fans couldn't wait for Mangini's encore.

Of course, the encore came and Mangini's genius title went when the Jets reverted back to 4-12. This season was worse. After all, as late as October, the Jets held the top spot in the AFC East, only to find themselves out of the playoffs. Again. More ...