New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini, the NFL 101 Awards' AFC Coach of the Year, was honored Saturday evening at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City. A national media committee, comprised of 101 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL, selected Mangini in a nationwide vote at the conclusion of the regular season. Mangini was introduced Saturday by Terry Bradway, the team's director of player personnel and former general manager.
"To be recognized by 101 sportswriters and sportscasters around the country as the top in your profession, in your conference, is a heck of a feat especially for a first time head coach as is Sean Payton (NFC winner) from New Orleans," Bradway said. "I think it's going to be a special night for the both of them and when you consider the number of people who get a chance to vote for this, it is a very prestigious award. The 101 Banquet, I believe, is one of the top banquets in the country as far as honoring football people."
Bradway praised Mangini for his plan. In his first season as leader of the Green & White, Mangini led the Jets to 10 wins and a return to the playoffs.
"Through hard work, his dream was realized on 1/17/06 when he became the head coach of the New York Jets. The first thing he did was put his plan into action. He knew what he wanted the organization to look like and he knew what he wanted the team to look like," Bradway said. "He created a culture of commitment, accountability, consistency, and preparation. He was detailed in every approach. We have clocks in every office of the building including the bathrooms and there may even be some in the closets – I don't know. There is no excuse for anybody ever to be late."
Mangini searched for people with certain qualities and he provided equal opportunity for his players.
"What he did was establish core Jets values as we call them and these are team characteristics. He wanted players who were smart, tough, hardworking, competitive, selfless, and players who football was important to them," Bradway said. "He made it clear from day one that all jobs were open including the quarterback position where four guys competed for the starting job. It didn't matter where you were drafted, how many years you had in the league or how much money you made, the guys who were going to play would give us the best chance to win on Sunday."
After the introduction, a gracious Mangini thanked Bradway and other members of the Jets' hierarchy. He also singled out his players for their efforts.
"I knew we shared the same vision for the organization. I knew we were looking for people who were intrinsically motivated with high character," he said. "I knew we were looking for people who wanted to be the best at their profession but yet were selflessly committed to our common goals. Without their unwavering support, we wouldn't have made the progress that we made this year."
*The New Orleans Saints captured two of the night's awards – Sean Payton as NFC Coach of the Year and quarterback Drew Brees as NFC Offensive Player of the Year. NFL Most Valuable Player LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers was voted the AFC Offensive Player of the Year. Both defensive award winners were repeat honorees – Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, who won the same AFC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2001, and Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who won the NFC award for the second straight season. *
Mangini and the five other recipients were presented with trophies at the 37th Annual NFL 101 Awards gala, presented by Legacy Investment Partners. The black-tie event was founded in 1969 and has evolved into what many sports insiders consider the finest awards event of its kind.