Ever since blowing the whistle on Spygate during Week 1 of the 2007 NFL season, Eric Mangini has been a persona non grata in the eyes of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick, who was fined $500,000 and lost a first-round draft pick after the Patriots were caught videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive signals from the sideline, has not spoken to Mangini in nearly 10 years. Mangini, a former Patriots assistant whose report to the NFL set the scandal in motion, said Saturday he hopes to one day reconcile with his former boss.
“Am I surprised? I hope it’s something that can come back,” Mangini told ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “Look, Bill is a big part of my life. Bill gave me a tremendous opportunity, and I enjoyed that experience, and I respect him. It’s disappointing, the way it’s been. Hopefully, it can change at some point.”
Mangini again expressed regret over how large of a controversy Spygate became.
“It was never supposed to go the way that it went,” he told Cimini. “It was more about, ‘Hey, don’t do this here.’ It wasn’t about reporting it. Sometimes things get out of hand and get rolling in one direction. It was never, ever supposed to go that way.”
Mangini spent five seasons on Belichick’s staff, including one as Patriots defensive coordinator, before leaving in 2006 to become head coach of the Jets. He lasted just three years in that position, then coached the Cleveland Browns for two seasons before going on to stints as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. He has been out of the league since 2015.
Belichick, meanwhile, is entering his 18th season as New England’s head coach. At age 65, he is the second-oldest coach in the NFL behind Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks.
“I thought Bill might have stopped,” Mangini, 46, told Cimini. “We always joked about it. He’d be like, ‘Oh, I can only do this for X number of years,’ and get out of it.”
Thumbnail photo via William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports