Nick Mangold an all-time Jets great, but road to Canton is rough

From ESPN - April 17, 2018

My favorite Nick Mangold memory occurred in the summer of 2008, when he botched an exchange with his new quarterback and was instructed by then-coach Eric Mangini to run a penalty lap around the perimeter of the New York Jets' practice field at training camp.

The new quarterback was, of course, Brett Favre. There were some glitches because this was only their second practice together -- Favre had just arrived in a trade -- but the hard-driving Mangini was not about to make an exception just because the guilty parties happened to be a future Hall of Famer and a Pro Bowl center.

So they ran, side by side, and the Favre-obsessed crowd -- thousands of spectators -- rose to its feet in applause as the old gunslinger jogged around the field, smiling. Within minutes, video of the lap appeared on YouTube, back in the day when YouTube moments still were considered cool. Mangold was an afterthought -- the other guy -- but he relished the oddity of the scene, later remarking it was the first time he had been cheered for making a mistake.

A decade later, it's time for Mangold to take another lap -- a victory lap.

This time, he will be alone in the spotlight, deserving of the praise and congratulations that will come his way in the coming days and months. On Tuesday morning, Mangold announced his retirement, surprising no one. He will be feted next Tuesday at a news conference at the Jets' headquarters in Florham Park, New Jersey, where he will sign a ceremonial one-day contract and walk away as a Jet.

Perfect endings do not come along too often in sports. This is not perfect -- Mangold was stung by the team's decision to release him 14 months ago -- but it's pretty close.

Mangold and Hall-of-Fame finalist Kevin Mawae, whom he succeeded in 2006, are the best centers in franchise history. Mangold was named to seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in 11 years, but it would be wrong to limit his legacy to one position. He was more than a premier center; he was one of the best offensive players to wear a Jets uniform. Period.

In fact, the only player on offense to receive more first-team, All-Pro honors than Mangold is former tackle Marvin Powell, who accomplished it in 1979, 1981 and 1982.


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