BOSTON (CBS) — Eric Mangini could have been known simply as a former Bill Belichick assistant and close friend that rapidly ascended to NFL head coach. Instead, he’s known throughout most of New England as a whistleblower, a snitch, a pariah. His fateful 2007 decision to tip off the NFL about the Patriots’ sideline videotaping of the Jets’ signals ultimately destroyed his relationship with Belichick.
But Mangini is still holding out hope that he can repair it.
Speaking to ESPN’s Rich Cimini at his own youth football camp in Hartford, Connecticut, Mangini said repeatedly that he hopes he and Belichick, who haven’t spoken since 2007, can one day mend fences.
“I hope it’s something that can come back,” said Mangini. “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 worked his way up the NFL ranks starting in 1995 under Belichick with the Browns. He worked as an assistant for the Ravens and Jets (also under Belichick) before serving as Patriots defensive coordinator in 2005.
He left the Patriots in 2006 to become head coach of the Jets, which alone “strained” the relationship between the two. But when Mangini informed the league about the Patriots’ videotaping practices, which of course launched the Spygate scandal, their relationship was severely damaged – perhaps beyond repair.
Mangini suggested that he regrets that his issues with the Patriots became public knowledge back in 2007.
“It was never supposed to go the way that it went,” said Mangini. “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.”
Spygate continues to leave a stain on the Patriots organization in the public eye nearly a decade after Belichick and the Patriots were fined and docked draft picks, only to play in four more Super Bowls and win two of them. It has also been the subject of false or inaccurate reporting from prominent media outlets like ESPN as recently as 2015.
If Belichick still won’t even speak to Mangini ten years later, it’s uncertain that the two will ever speak again.