Twelve years ago this month, Nick Mangold’s NFL journey began when the New York Jets drafted him in the first round. The Alter High School graduate watched the draft at home in Centerville with his family.
“We watched this kid take his first steps, watched him ride a bike and go off to school,” Nick’s dad, Vern Mangold, told the Dayton Daily News that day, “but this was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever been through in my life. When (the Jets) called, Nick was talking in muffled tones, and when his name popped up on the TV screen, it felt like a walk-off home run.”
The same could be said for Mangold’s career, which lasted 11 seasons and ended Tuesday when he announced his retirement. Mangold, 34, was a seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro (2009 and 2010) who started 164 games at center, all for the Jets. He will sign a one-day contract next week so he can retire as a Jet.
“Everything that happened from pee-wee football to high school football to having the good fortune to play at The Ohio State University molded me for my opportunity to play for the New York Jets,” Mangold wrote in a letter he posted to Twitter. “I was privileged that Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini took a chance on me with the 29th pick of the 2006 NFL Draft.
“In my 11 years as a Jet, there were plenty of ups and downs, but through it all, I wanted to be the Steady Eddie. I wanted to be the guy other guys looked at to see how it was done. I learned this attribute from the vets that I played with. My biggest regret is not bringing the Lombardi Trophy to New York, but as I retire, I will continue my efforts to bring the Trophy home in a different capacity. I have no idea what that capacity is, but I’m sure I will figure something out in the future.”
Mangold missed only four games in his first 10 seasons in the league but was limited to eight games in 2016 by a foot and ankle injury and was released by the Jets in February 2017. He sat out the entire 2017 season as he continued to recover from the injury.
During his Ohio State career, Mangold played in 42 games. He was a true freshman in 2002 when the Buckeyes won the national title and a captain as a senior in 2005.
Mangold thanked his family, including his wife Jenny and their three kids, plus the Centerville Wee Elks, Alter High School, Ohio State and the Jets in his letter and reflected on his long journey.
“I remember the night before my first pee wee practice like it happened yesterday,” Mangold said. “The unknown, the excitement, the small ball of nervous energy that sits in your stomach were all present that night. Those same feelings would stick with me every fall for the next 23 years. What I didn’t know way back in 1993 is how much football would end up meaning to me and how it would shape my life.
“From the moment I stepped on the field, I was hooked. I won’t say I loved every minute as it was happening — Oklahoma drills, monkey rolls, bear crawls, Jim Tressel’s conditioning tests, every loss and every injury. But as I reflect back, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. All the negatives taught me an important lesson, and all the positives reinforced those lessons.”
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.