- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

From combined dispatches

Introduced for the first time as Cleveland’s coach, Eric Mangini stepped to the podium, and his football life flashed before him.

This is where it all began.

“I feel like I should be getting some coffee or picking up some towels or something,” he joked.

The ballboy returned as the boss.

Mangini, fired by the New York Jets after their season finished with a December nosedive, took over the rebuilding Browns on Thursday, completing a personal and professional career circle that started with him running errands in the early 1990s as an eager underling for then-Cleveland coach Bill Belichick.

The 37-year-old Mangini now has his dream job, the one he had a tough time convincing his mom was remotely possible when he came to Cleveland 14 years ago.

“I was a 23-year-old ballboy, and I had to explain that to my mother,” said Mangini, who signed a four-year contract. “I had student loans, and it was a hard sell. I kept telling her, ‘Mom, this is the Cleveland Browns. Do you understand? THE Cleveland Browns.’”

Although he left to work in other NFL hot spots like Baltimore, New England and New York, those Cleveland memories never left Mangini. So when Browns owner Randy Lerner called him last week for an interview - one day after the Jets dumped him after three seasons - Mangini knew it was time to return to his roots.

“It was the same feeling, that same level of pride,” he said. “It was the Dawg Pound. It was Jim Brown. I remember thinking about the fans, and I thought, all fans love football and love their team. And the difference is that Cleveland fans, they live football.”

CARDINALS: Anquan Boldin says he won’t give his injured hamstring a serious test until just before kickoff of Arizona’s divisional playoff game at Carolina on Saturday night.

“We’re just trying to be smart about the entire situation and just see how it feels,” Boldin said.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver sat out practice for the third straight day to rest the injury, doing only minor rehabilitation work.

BRONCOS: Owner Pat Bowlen wrapped up his first round of interviews for Denver’s coaching vacancy when he met with Miami secondary coach Todd Bowles.

Bowlen and his inner circle now will huddle to determine whether any of the seven candidates will be offered Mike Shanahan’s old coaching job or whether a second round of interviews is needed.

Bowlen fired Shanahan last week after the Broncos completed the biggest collapse in divisional history, blowing a three-game lead with three weeks left to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.

LIONS: Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will interview with Detroit on Friday for their coaching job.

Vikings coach Brad Childress confirmed that Frazier will visit the Lions, who fired coach Rob Marinelli after becoming the first team to finish 0-16.

Frazier met with Denver on Wednesday about replacing longtime coach Mike Shanahan and was passed over last year after interviewing with Miami and Atlanta.

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