Source: Cleveland to interview Mangini

December 30, 2008 2:03:24 PM PST
The Cleveland Browns have scheduled an interview Tuesday with fired New York Jets coach Eric Mangini, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. Mangini, dismissed Monday by the Jets after they collapsed down the stretch and missed the playoffs, will meet with Browns owner Randy Lerner in the New York area, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the interview.

Lerner has also set up an interview for Wednesday with Scott Pioli, New England's vice president of player personnel, the person said.

Pioli and Mangini both began their NFL careers in Cleveland under coach Bill Belichick and spent several seasons together with the Patriots.

Mangini, who started out as a public relations assistant with Browns in 1994, went 23-26 in three seasons and made the playoffs once with the Jets. However, after starting the season 8-3, the Jets lost to Denver, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami in the last five weeks, costing Mangini his job.

The Browns are in complete rebuilding mode after coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage were fired following a 4-12 season that began with playoff expectations coming off a 10-win season in 2007.

Lerner was unaware of Mangini's firing when he met with reporters at Browns headquarters in Berea on Monday. But after learning of the 37-year-old's ouster in New York, Lerner indicated he would approach Mangini, who had one year remaining on his contract with the Jets.

Mangini has ties to the Cleveland area. He is the brother-in-law of Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro.

Lerner began his search hoping to lure former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher to Cleveland. But during a meeting in New York on Saturday, Cowher told Lerner he had no plans to coach in 2009 and wanted his name removed from the list of candidates.

Lerner, who lives on Long Island, is trying to schedule meetings with other coaching candidates, including New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who played college ball at John Carroll in Cleveland.

Lerner is also interested in speaking with Atlanta president Rich McKay about the Browns' GM vacancy.

A Mangini-Pioli reunion in Cleveland would be interesting. The Belichick disciples worked closely in New England, where they were part of three Super Bowl-winning teams. But their relationship was tested after the infamous "Spygate" episode when Mangini accused the Patriots of videotaping the Jets' defensive signals during the 2007 season opener.

Lerner wants to make sure they've patched up any differences before moving forward.

Mangini's hiring could also lead to Crennel staying with the Browns, perhaps as their defensive coordinator. Crennel told Lerner he was open to staying, depending on who was brought in to replace him. Crennel and Mangini worked as defensive assistants on Belichick's staff in New England from 2001-2004. When Crennel took the Cleveland job in 2005, Mangini replaced him as Belichick's coordinator.

Mangini took over a 4-12 team in 2006 and led the Jets to a 10-6 record as a rookie, a turnaround that earned him the nickname "Mangenius" from the New York tabloids. But there was little love after the Jets went 4-12 last year, and in recent weeks Jets fans often aimed their frustration at Mangini.

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