The sun was still shining on Eric Mangini today. On hand for the fifth annual New York Jets Charity Golf Classic in Jericho, N.Y., Mangini remained on a high following his Football Fundamentals Mini-Camp in Hartford, Conn., last weekend.
"We ended up with 700 kids who represented 71 schools and four states," he said while taking a timeout in the shade under an umbrella this afternoon. "There were 200 volunteers and close to 130 coaches, so the amount of people there and the amount of kids who came to enjoy the experience was great."
Mangini and the Carmine and Frank Mangini Foundation (CFM) conducted the camp at his high school alma matter, Bulkeley HS. Seventy representatives from NFL teams assisted in the process with Mangini supported by the majority of his coaching staff, a few Jets veterans and the entire rookie class (minus Vernon Gholston, not permitted to be with his new team yet due to NFL rules).
The celebrities also included ESPN personality Chris Berman.
"It was Chris' second year coming to the camp," Mangini said. "It's always nice because the kids love having him there.
"We had some really outstanding efforts. Rob Ryan came in from Oakland with two other Oakland coaches, Rex Ryan came from Baltimore, so it was people from all over the place helping out."
There were 202 games of 7-on-7 played by 64 teams and the exciting contests were officiated by 65 high school and college refs from the area. For the second consecutive year, Leon Washington coached a team to a championship.
"They went out there and got a two-point conversion to win the game. We were out there chest-bumping and jumping up and down and having fun," said Washington, the Jets' 2007 MVP. "Those guys really pulled together and it was so much fun, man."
Washington was impressed with his older group, a team of high school juniors who may not have been the most talented group but came together to form a tough unit.
"By far this past year was my best year I ever had," he said. "I really feel like I bonded with the kids. There was maybe 12 kids on the team and I learned each kid's name, so I knew I was having fun."
While Washington's squad was the Cleveland Browns, the New York Jets got a good effort out of their high school seniors. In fact, QB coach Brian Daboll and DL coach Dan Quinn guided the Green & White to a first-place finish.
"It's the first time the Jets have won in seven years," Mangini said before unloading some comic relief. "I don't think it's a coincidence that Mike Tannenbaum wasn't coaching the Jets this year and Dan Quinn and Brian Daboll were, but he can stick to personnel."
Since its inception in 2002, Mangini has watched his camp grow appreciably over the past seven years.
"It's been great from the first time we put it together — Julie and I put the names into the Excel spreadsheet ourselves — and getting the fields lined up and all the loose things that went into the inaugural camp," he said. "Now to be at this point where things are very efficient and we're able to have so many kids, it's very satisfying."
The CFM Foundation is named after Eric's father, Carmine, and his uncle, Frank. Both men are deceased, but they instilled the importance of community in Eric when he was a young boy. Now 37 years old, Mangini uses his camp to help children out on a Bulkeley field he has never completely left.
"It's what he believes in," Washington said. "He always talks about that it's important to give back to where you came from. He just basically says you are measured in life by how much you give and not what you get and this is so true."