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Friday Out-Takes: Eric Mangini, Cleveland-based temp

Eric Mangini, Cleveland-based Temp
(A Pop Quiz in Three Parts)

PART ONE (MULTIPLE CHOICE)

According to temporary Browns head coach ERIC MANGINI, owner Randy Lerner's franchise is a lot like Robert Kraft's, circa 2000. In between what we can only assume was his Starbucks run for front office big-wigs not yet thrown under the bus and refilling the toner for "that piece-of-crap three-in-one up in H.R.," Mangini mentioned that, at the start of the Belichick Era, the Patriots were "top-heavy financially" and "didn't have much success that first year." By this he meant:

A) Please don't fire me. I'm still smarting from last time. {Note Mangini's unauthorized use of the subtly ironic, suggestive word "smarting." We're not falling for it, Eric. "Smart" doesn't give it the old college try with that ridiculous "the band is on the field!" play, down 16 with three seconds to go. "Smart" takes a knee. Otherwise, someone - like, say...JOSH "our best, most marketable player" CRIBBS - might get hurt.}

B) *Randy Lerner is an idiot. How did he ever have the wherewithal to land an NFL team?! *{The old-fashioned way - he inherited it from his Dad. Still, until you came along, this member of the league's Business Ventures Committee likely knew better than to give up a potential asset like MARK SANCHEZ for cast-off jags like ABE ELAM and KENYON COLEMAN and the chance to land a top 2 center in a C-plus draft.}

C) *Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into, ex-GM PHIL SAVAGE! * {When in doubt, blame the crew they fired right before you while making a Laurel & Hardy reference. Folks'll either engage in a little retroactive ranting or, at the very least, get caught up in nostalgia for comedy both "classic" AND "not nearly as funny as we remembered." In so doing, they will...um...what was our point? See - it works!}

D) Who had the Venti, Low Fat, Chai-Tea Latte?

PART TWO (ESSAY)

When it comes to the 2000 Patriots and the 2009 Browns..."there are remarkable similarities." Discuss. {For example: GEORGE CLOONEY has a nose, eyes, ears and a mouth - AND he likes football! His similarities to us are remarkable! Oh, Mrs. Out-Takes...you sure are lucky!}

PART THREE (TRANSLATE THE SUBTEXT)

"I don't think we won any popularity contests there." {In New England, Belichick had bad press for awhile - and, hey, I have bad press all the time! Three out of four Super Bowls, here we come!}

"With the staff we had, the approach we had, we kept getting better, but it took a while." {The Mangini staff must be nurtured and aged like a fine wine, just like its Patriotic forebears...except, ya know, with only a slight overtone of ROMEO, not a whiff of WEIS and no sign whatsoever of a once-in-a-lifetime Belichick. Did I mention I used to drive him to the airport?!}

"At one point in that second year, we were 1-3, but we didn't change the approach, and then we went on a streak." {The wheel hasn't landed on "Even" or "Red" in soooooo long, we're due, man, we're due! Be right back, I'm just gonna hit an ATM...don't tell the wife."}

"That wasn't a function of getting hot. It was a function of two years of work." {Just give me two years...}

"You don't know when that moment will strike, but they've been rolling since." {Okay, maybe more than two. Let's just focus on the "years" part. And the rolling.}

It would be overkill to label Mangini's argument purely false. (It's just *largely * false.) And it's unfair to knock him for using every available tool in fighting for his job. There's only 32 of those suckers in the known universe. But just because his statements about the 2000 Patriots are on target doesn't mean his analogy is apt. It's not. What it is, is insulting to the intelligence of a savvy fan-base and, we're guessing, a not unwise ownership group, one knee-jerk hiring notwithstanding.

Mangini had his chance in New York, and did a decent job...until he didn't. Then, approximately two minutes after failing that test, Cleveland gave him a make-up. (We haven't seen this poor a performance on make-up related activities since BRAD CHILDRESS pulled his Avon Lady routine on that pre-Halloween flight to Pittsburgh.) Bottom line, Mangenius-in-Cleveland is fast becoming a can't-look-away trainwreck. We almost feel bad for the guy. But it's hard not to see the cruel hand of Karma in all this. It's even harder to see the face-painting fans in the end-zone seats go from Dawg Pound to hangdog. They deserve better. Here's hoping they get it. In the meantime, Eric, fill out your W-2 - oh, and could you man the phones? The big boys are going to lunch.

Blooper Reel

~ In the run-up to Pats-Indy {don't worry, we won't talk about it - this is a safe place} it was enlightening, as always, to hear from NFLN pundit JAMIE DUKES, aka The Gift that Keeps on Giving (himself green room cupcakes, we're pretty sure). Here's his take on "the secret to beating the Patriots." Getting pressure on TOM BRADY. That's not the KEY, mind you, that's "the secret." Dukes went on to demystify the notion that, to take down New England, the long buried Mayan treasure of NFL analysis takes root in "moving Tom out of the pocket." Gosh, Jamie...thanks. You're the best. (Now, here, take this - that frosty mug of Half & Half isn't gonna chug itself.)

~ Say what you will about PEYTON MANNING, but we find him pretty tough to hate. And it's not just the talent, the heroics, the success. It's the commercials. Sure, there's a whole slew of 'em but, well...they're funny. They are often *really * funny. As was his performance on SNL a few years back. If you haven't seen Manning's United Way spoof, it's worth the trip to Youtube. (Long after you're through reading Out-Takes and checking out the rest of this fantastic website, that is.)

~ On Thursday, JOHN "The Professor" CLAYTON, whose nickname we assume is intended to be ironic - like calling the biggest guy in your platoon "Tiny" - vultured a story that CLARK JUDGE had broken the day before for CBS Sports about the contract extension given to cross-dressing Vikings coach BRAD CHILDRESS. (Or, as he's referred to around the Out-Takes water cooler, "Mrs. Rex Ryan, post-Jenny Craig, with a dash of MERLIN OLSEN: The Amish Years.") At this point, we would like to guarantee, stone-cold lock style, that, sometime during the first half of the new deal, the Favre-Childress alliance will end in tears (either the kind that run down your cheeks or the alternately pronounced "tears," as in "Favre tears his 80-year old rotator cuff"). If it doesn't, we promise to dress up like a flight attendant and sashay the square-footage of Minnesota's Mall of America. (We will then renege on this promise, as an homage to #4.)

~ Earlier this week, in a bit of a surprise, JERRY GLANVILLE, ex- of the Oilers and Falcons, was fired by PORTLAND STATE after compiling a three-year record of 9-24. In an even bigger surprise, apparently Jerry Glanville has been coaching at Portland State for the past three years.

~ In Buffalo last Sunday, 86-year old Titans owner BUD ADAMS left no room for doubt in the minds of Bills fans that he has at least one finger on each hand. (Stay classy, Nashville.)

~ This is the spot where we would ordinarily cheap-shot the BENGALS for signing yet another sketchy DB-not-defensive-back in KC castaway LARRY JOHNSON. But these are not your father's Bengals, these are your AFC North-sweeping division leaders, so we'll just leave it at "If it ain't broke..." However, in honor of LJ's arrival in the Queen City, Out-Takes has issued its first ever PSA, which goes out to all the single ladies (ALL the single ladies) in greater Cincinnati:

"Heading to the clubs tonight? Maybe grab a portable sneeze guard and/or umbrella on your way out the door. This guy's the worst kind of spitter. (The kind who throws a drink at you first.)"

And finally...

~ There's been plenty written this week about the so-called "4th & 2 blunder." (We like to think the real 4th & 2 blunder was

AL MICHAELS's inability to distinguish between the concept of "once" and "twice" when it comes to KEVIN FAULK bobbles.) But a word on BILL BELICHICK:

Whether or not you agreed with the decision, the man has created a dynasty by continually making precisely this kind of unconventional call (The intentional safety in Denver being the best, and best known, success story.) And, while Bill may have felt emotional in the aftermath, kudos to him for holding it together enough to let Jets HC Rex Cryin' hold the exclusive rights to post-game, agony-of-defeat waterworks. (By the way, is it just us or does Rex's coaching soul suddenly seem to be waging an existential war between being the mouthy, macho son of BUDDY RYAN and the weepy, hugging one of BUM PHILLIPS?).

As for the opposing fan-bases and general Belichick haters out there - those giddily invoking words like "arrogant" and "disrespect" and "got what's comin' to him" - Out-Takes would like to invite you to slap down a stack of bibles, throw up a right hand and swear an oath that you wouldn't trade three #1s to put the guy in charge of your team. Any takers?

John Cockrell is a screenwriter, whose other work has run the gamut from "Sesame Street Parents Magazine" to Playboy TV's "The Weekend Flash." (He figures everything else is pretty much in-between.)

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