FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Eric Mangini sounded loose, even funny at times.
Gone is the tightlipped and dry approach that marked his three seasons with the New York Jets. The Cleveland Browns coach insists he’s different now, and it certainly seems that way.
“It’s less scripted for me,” Mangini said in a conference call with New York media Wednesday. “I know what I want to say. I know the points I want to get across. Not reading it as much as just feeling it and getting the same point across, but from the heart.”
Fired by the Jets after the 2008 season, Mangini was often criticized for trying to act too much like the men — his “football fathers” — he worked for in previous jobs: Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells.
“I think the best thing that I’ve learned is to take the best things from the people that I’ve been with who are outstanding, but do it in my way,” Mangini said. “It’s more effective, more authentic.”
Mangini, now in his second season with the Browns, will face his former team for the first time Sunday in Cleveland. That comes after the Browns stunned Belichick’s New England Patriots last Sunday.
“It’s going to be special,” Mangini said, “and last week was special, too.”
After the Jets finished 9-7 following a late-season swoon with an injured Brett Favre at quarterback, the team let Mangini go. He insists he’s not bitter about how things ended after three years of leading the Jets.
“I think I’m a better person for it,” he said, “and a better coach for it.”
When he was fired, Mangini told general manager Mike Tannenbaum that he thought Rex Ryan, a longtime friend, would be a “great choice” in New York because Ryan’s defensive philosophy was similar to his.
“You didn’t have to blow up the defense,” Mangini said.
Mangini said he got lots of feedback from family and friends on his daily press conferences while with the Jets, providing plenty of material to critique — and change.
“Sometimes when you have spinach in your teeth, your friends will tell you you’ve got spinach in your teeth,” he said. “Your friends don’t just kind of laugh at you and point it out to the guy next to him.”
Mangini still owns a home in New Jersey, which he bought in 2008 because “we were going all in,” but hasn’t been able to sell.
“It’s back up if you’re interested,” Mangini quipped. “I thought Rex, after his extension, might buy it, but I don’t know what he’s waiting for.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.