Gang Green Nation had an opportunity to briefly chat with the Jets Pro Bowl center and All Universe beard Nick Mangold recently. Here is the transcript of that interview.
Gang Green Nation: Hello Nick. This is MacGregor Wells from Gang Green Nation. How are you today?
Nick Mangold: Good, how are you doing?
Gang Green Nation: Good. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule to spend a few minutes with me today.
Nick Mangold: No problem.
Gang Green Nation: All right, I know there's one thing you wanted to talk about, let's get to that right away. Could you tell me a little about the Verizon Who's Gonna Win campaign you're involved with?
Nick Mangold: Sure. The hashtag is #WhosGonnaWin on Twitter and Facebook. You get to put out there who you think's gonna win the playoff games and the Super Bowl. You can go online at WhosGonnaWin.com and do the Google Street View and paint your house or your friend's house your fan's colors. It's a great way for fans to get involved and show their fandom for the Super Bowl.
Gang Green Nation: Sure. Do you have your picks for the next three games? The two conference championship games and the Super Bowl?
Nick Mangold: Yeah, well obviously I'm rooting for the Patriots to lose and then I'm kind of torn on Seattle and Green Bay. I think Seattle's a very difficult place to play but I'm rooting for Green Bay, but I think Seattle's going to win. I hope Indianapolis takes it all.
Gang Green Nation: You hope Indianapolis takes it all? Interesting pick.
Nick Mangold: Yeah, I'm an AFC guy.
Gang Green Nation: OK, let's talk a little bit about last season and maybe the last couple of seasons. As fans at Gang Green Nation we often talk about, does this team have the talent to compete this year? As a player I know you probably don't have the luxury of thinking that way, but going into the last year, two years, three years, did you ever in training camp look around and think to yourself, I don't know, this just may not be our year, or is every year like, Super Bowl, here we come?
Nick Mangold: No, every year is like Super Bowl, here we come. If you don't have that mentality you're guaranteeing yourself to lose.
Gang Green Nation: Right.
Nick Mangold: I think the biggest thing with the struggles we had is we just weren't playing very well. You can be coached to be in the right spot and told where to go but if you're not there it's going to make things very difficult. Unfortunately I think we just had too many mistakes.
Gang Green Nation: So you think it was a breakdown in execution problem, not really a talent problem?
Nick Mangold: Well obviously you go 4-12 you're going to have problems all over, so I think that is one of the difficult parts of this business is that when things aren't all working together well, they show up pretty quickly.
Gang Green Nation: Sure. You were drafted by the Jets in 2006. Since that time you have had a former defensive coordinator as head coach your entire career, and you're going to have another one in 2015. Also in 2006 you and D'Brickashaw Ferguson were the Jets first two draft picks. In seven of the following eight years the Jets' top pick has been a defensive player. Do you ever think, gee, it might be great to have a more offensive minded organization once in a while?
Nick Mangold: Well, shoot, really what I'd like to see is an offensive line coach become a head coach. But I'm excited about Todd coming in here. I was able to meet him yesterday (editor's note: Wednesday, January 14), just quick pleasantries, and just from that you can tell how excited he is about coaching, his passion, his intensity. I've heard great things about his defenses so it should be a great opportunity for us.
Gang Green Nation: You're in the offseason now. The NFL season takes a big toll, by the end of the season you must be really beat up. How long do you take to just relax, rest up and get over your various ills before you get back into the training?
Nick Mangold: Yeah, it's difficult. Once you finish the season, if you're fortunate enough to head to the Pro Bowl you kind of have to stay a little bit alert. Once that ends you take a week or two and kind of relax and then you get right back into it. It's gotten more difficult as I've gotten older. I now have two kids running around, so that just adds to how you don't get much rest time. It takes a little bit longer these days, but it's something that we love, that we take great passion in, so you have a hard time getting away from it.
Gang Green Nation: So you're back in the weight room almost immediately? You don't just take like a month off and say I just need to rest up because I'm really beat up?
Nick Mangold: You try to. I used to, but as you get older, the toll that it takes on the body, you have to prepare for it. You do that in the weight room, and I think that's been a help as I keep getting older.
Gang Green Nation. Sure. You are getting older. This is going to be your tenth year coming up in 2015. As one of the guys in the trenches, you guys take a beating, there's no doubt about it. You're bashing heads with 300 pound guys both sides of the line every play, it's gotta take a huge toll. How much longer do you think you might be able to continue playing at such a high level? You've been a Pro Bowl center for six of the last seven years. Do you think you can continue to perform at that high level for maybe five years, what do you think?
Nick Mangold: No, I could be at that level for the next 50 years!
Gang Green Nation: 50 years! That's what I'm talking about!
Nick Mangold: Until somebody tells me that I'm not doing it anymore, that's when I'll know that I'm done, when they tell me I'm done.
Gang Green Nation: And is it your desire to retire as a Jet? Do you think that's going to happen?
Nick Mangold: I sure hope so. It's so rare in today's NFL, but it would be a dream come true to be able to be a Jet my whole career.
Gang Green Nation: You grew up in Ohio. You went to Ohio State University. I know you're now a Jet through and through, but when you were going through the draft process, were you like I hope somebody from Ohio picks me, or maybe Pittsburgh or some local team like that? Did you have a favorite team when you were growing up, that maybe you were thinking, I want to be on that team?
Nick Mangold: I was a Bengals fan growing up, but once it came time around the draft I was just hoping to get drafted, and it didn't really matter by whom. Once I found out it was the Jets, it made it that much better. To be here, and that excitement of being in New York has been fantastic.
Gang Green Nation: So you really love New York?
Nick Mangold: Oh yeah.
Gang Green Nation: What impact do you think the new head coach, the new offensive coordinator might have on you and the rest of the offensive line? Do you think it will change the way you approach the blocking schemes?
Nick Mangold: I don't know. That's kind of one of the fun things about the NFL. Coordinators have different philosophies and different ways of doing things. I'm excited to learn this new offense and figure out what we're looking for. I love that side, the playbook side of the game. I think it's going to be a great challenge for us and I'm excited to get started on it.
Gang Green Nation: How much more difficult is it to learn an NFL playbook as opposed to, say, an Ohio Sate playbook?
Nick Mangold: We had a pretty good NFL style offense when I was there at Ohio State so the transition wasn't as difficult. I always refer to it as it's like the Rosetta Stone. Once you know the key you're good to go. It took me a couple of years to figure that out, but now doing that, it goes much quicker.
Gang Green Nation: Coming up after the Super Bowl is the offseason, with free agency and the draft. The fans get into that like crazy. We're all hopeful we'll get all these great new additions to the team. Do the players get into it as well? Do you have your wish list, these are the guys I hope we target, I hope we come away with these guys? Or is it just like whatever happens, happens?
Nick Mangold: Whatever happens, happens. I know that the guys upstairs are doing a great job of scouting and trying to get us the best players they can. Since we have no control over it you try not thinking about it.
Gang Green Nation: Oh you really don't think about it at all? You don't think, oh I wish we could get that guy in the draft? It never occurs to you?
Nick Mangold: No, not really. Unfortunately I don't get to follow college football as much as I'd like. We're a little busy during that time. So I wouldn't know who to pick anyway.
Gang Green Nation: I have two more questions if you have the time. Rex Ryan is now headed off to Buffalo. I'm just wondering if that's going to make it a much more intense rivalry. Do we have a new bitter rivalry with the Bills coming up?
Nick Mangold: Oh, definitely. I've been going against Rex's defense for six years in practice and training camp and I'm excited now I have the opportunity to go against it with the "rivalry".
Gang Green Nation: Last question. A whimsical question from one of the great members of Gang Green Nation. If you had a choice of one superpower, what would it be and why?
Nick Mangold: Ooohhh. Uhhh... I think I'd like to fly, I think that'd be fun.
Gang Green Nation: OK. Well Nick Mangold, thank you so much for spending time with me today, I really appreciate it. I wish you all the best and I hope you're a Jet forever.
Nick Mangold: Thank you, I appreciate that.
For those of you interested in the Verizon WhosGonnaWin campaign Nick is involved with, you can find out more about it at whosgonnawin.com .