TJB Interview: Nick Mangold – Part I

TheJetsBlog was invited to attend a gamer’s event at the Tribeca Grand Hotel where UbiSoft was previewing some of the games they’ll be releasing for the holidays like Assassin’s Creed II.  Nick Mangold, a guy who’s been known to game from time to time, was at the event and talked to our very own Angel Navedo.

There aren’t many opportunities in life for a 6’4”, 300-pound offensive lineman to go unnoticed; it simply doesn’t happen. Yet, on a stormy July afternoon in lower Manhattan’s lavish Tribeca Grand Hotel, Nick Mangold effortlessly blended into a crowd of video game lovers whose attention rested solely upon UbiSoft’s Holiday line-up.

Despite towering over everyone in attendance, the New York Jets’ Pro Bowl center proved to be no match for the multitude of demos and previews UbiSoft brought with them. Mangold played a secondary role to Panasonic’s high-definition plasma displays, featuring Assassin’s Creed II, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Red Steel 2, RUSE, and much more.

On the surface, the former first-round pick looks like he’d be more comfortable with an axe and flannel shirt in the middle of a forest. But the long blond hair and grizzly beard can only camouflage his jovial charisma for so long.

Within minutes, he’s encouraging everyone in close proximity to have their mind-blown by the uniqueness of the hotel’s restroom before they leave for the day.

The afternoon was one of palpable anticipation. While UbiSoft’s upcoming Holiday titles received well-deserved interest, any sports’ fan could tell Mangold’s mind was with football, the Jets, and the beginning of training camp in Cortland, NY.

The man appeared absolutely focused. The video games serve only as a momentary distraction for No. 74 as he makes his necessary adjustments prior to an arduous month of practice and preparation.

Discussing everything from Madden ratings to his arrival in New York following the Kevin Mawae era, Mangold makes it clear that, no matter what, football comes first.

Angel Navedo: What are your feelings on traveling to Cortland for training camp?

Nick Mangold: I’m excited. I’ve never gone away for training camp. This is my first time — high school, college, and pros — I’ve never gone.

AN: What about when camp was held in Hofstra?

NM: Well, I lived five minutes from there. If we had two hours at night, I was able to run home and catch dinner or something. Being four hours away from home is a whole new beast that I haven’t really wrapped my whole head around.

AN: You were invited to this UbiSoft Holiday Preview event. Do you consider yourself to be technologically savvy?

NM: I like to. I don’t know where I measure up to everyone else, but I like to believe I’m gadget and tech friendly. I’m a Blackberry guy.

AN: That hurts my feelings.

NM: (Spots my iPhone) But I’m an iPod Touch guy! The iPod Touch is awesome. I think it’s a great device for games and messing around. But for dealing with emails and everything, I pick Blackberry — with the actual keyboard and everything — hands down.

I can bang out a page-long email while I’m sitting, doing whatever. Touch screens, you know, I got fatter fingers. It’s not my thing.

AN: It definitely took some getting used to for me.

NM: I even tried the Storm. I’m just not a touch screen guy at all. I love it for playing games and stuff, but I keep them separate. If that requires me to carry two different things, I live with it.

AN: Given the love for technology, would you say it’s a hobby or a passion?

NM: (Contemplates for a moment) I gotta say hobby. Football is my passion. Tech, it’s like, right above a hobby. I love dealing with surround systems at home, messing with speakers and stuff like that.

Always wanna go a little bit louder, huh?

NM: Yeah, always wanna go a little bit louder. I always wanna add more speakers somewhere. In college, I wired it so we had speakers outside on our porch. When we first got there, my roommate was like, “There’s no way you could pull that off.” I was like, “No, I’ll figure it out.”

It’s just one of those things. I always like messing with stuff. It’s not a passion, but its right below there — in between passion and hobby.

AN: Being a gamer is pretty big for you. I know you attended the Halo 3 launch party, too. How deep does this run for you?

NM: [The first] Halo you didn’t have online, right?

AN: Yeah. That’s the one where you needed to hook it up through a LAN connection.

NM: Right. We did that in college. My friend had a two-bedroom apartment and both of the guys had good TV’s. So we’d bring the Xbox over to his house, hook them up, and we’d play in different rooms. We were playing it all the time.

AN: Would it be safe to say you’re more into the Xbox than Playstation?

NM: I’m a 360 guy, I am. I have a PS3, but I was sold on Xbox because of Halo. That made the decision for me. Grand Theft Auto was another huge one, so I always had a Playstation around. Now they have it for Xbox — which is awesome — but that always kept me playing a little bit of the Playstation.

AN: Since there’s no more need for a LAN connection, do you find yourself playing online at all?

NM: Yeah.

AN: Ever let anyone know who you are?

NM: Sometimes, but it depends. I was at a grade school and we were talking to a bunch of fifth graders. I gave them all my gamertag, which — in retrospect — was probably a bad idea, but we had fun with it that day. I kept it. I’ve had the same one for about five years now.

AN: Yeah, 800 credits to change it is rough.

NM: (Exhales) Yeah. I’m not changing it.

AN: Are you a Madden player at all?

NM: Yeah, I am a little bit. I play more games like Assassin’s Creed, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty. Madden, for me, it’s not an escape. It’s what I do for a living.

AN: I hear you.

NM: Every once in a while I’ll play Madden or NCAA to become an offensive coordinator. I sit out there and just go 5-wide all the time, change all the hot routes.

AN: But I thought linemen liked to run block? You wanna go out into pass protection?

NM: (laughs) Not my five offensive linemen. I don’t listen to them. Just like every other offensive coordinator, we’re just gonna throw the ball.

AN: What about the rating system? The whole thing this summer with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and DeAngelo Hall complaining about their Madden ratings is something you have to hear often in the locker room, right?

NM: Some guys are worried about it. You can hear it sometimes. There’s always some sort of arguing going on with whose Madden rating is higher than the others. I don’t care; I’ve never really looked at it.

AN: Oh, okay. If you did, I imagine you’d be glad to know you don’t have to worry about it. You’re the second highest rated center in the league, behind Kevin Mawae.

NM: Well, that’s awfully nice to know. There’s another “Thank you” note I gotta send out. But it’s something I’ve never really looked at or wondered about. I’ve heard too many people with the arguing, “Watch me! I should be a 76, not a 74!” I wonder, does it really matter?

But some people do care about it; there are some guys on the team who are passionate about what their Madden ratings are.

Read Part II of the Nick Mangold interview, featuring more football talk from No. 74.