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Rex lends hand to his predecessor, Mangini

6/5/2011

Rex Ryan spent part of his weekend in Hartford, Conn., participating in Eric Mangini's one day Football Fundamentals Minicamp at his his alma mater, Bulkeley High School. Now you're probably thinking, why on earth would Ryan schlep up to Hartford on a Saturday to help out his predecessor?

Ryan and Mangini are actually friends. Ryan met Mangini through his twin brother, Rob Ryan, who used to work with Mangini's on Bill Belichick's staff with the Patriots. Plus, Rex probably feels a debt of gratitude toward Mangini for that sweetheart, draft-day deal in 2009 that allowed the Jets to pick Mark Sanchez. (Just kidding ... I think.)

"Eric is a great coach, but he's a better person," Ryan told the Hartford Courant. "He is a phenomenal coach, but in this business you're going to get fired; that's just a fact.

"Sooner or later I'll be in the same situation, but it's nothing about him. He's a tremendous coach and a tremendous person. This event that he has every year just speaks to that. He's out of football, yet all these coaches come back. … You just want to help him out as best you can. I'm sure it won't be long and he'll be back on the sidelines."

Ryan and Jets assistant head coach Bill Callahan were among 60 NFL coaches at Mangini's camp, which drew about 800 kids. I covered the camp in 2006, Mangini's first year with the Jets, and it's the real deal, a rare opportunity for kids from several states to learn from NFL coaches.

"It's the first coaching any of them have done since the end of last season. And I'd say they were a little rusty, early," Mangini joked. "But they picked it up."