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April 16, 2008
Mario Manningham's bad air day

I finally got a chance to hear that Mario Manningham radio interview that was causing so much hubbub earlier in the week. For those of you just catching up, the Michigan receiver on Monday had what was described as a disastrous interview with Adam Schein and Tim Hasselbeck on the Sirius Blitz radio show. The term “train wreck” has been used more than once in regard to the interview.

Maybe all the buildup colored my listening experience, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Not train-wreck bad but perhaps fender-bender-where-the-police-get-involed-and-you-have-no-insurance bad. One of the Sirius guys played the interview for me over the phone today because there’s no link to it on the web and I took notes. I kept waiting for that Ryan-Leaf-meltdown moment, but it never came. Yes, Manningham sounded a bit defensive at times but, to be fair, the interviewers were peppering him pretty hard with the same line of questioning. Manningham reportedly failed two drug tests while at Michigan and then didn’t own up to them during interviews at the scouting combine. He and his agent have since sent letters to all 32 teams admitting that he failed the tests. Most of the questions were in that vein.

And no, I don’t think Manningham will be splitting the atom anytime soon, and, yes, I like my chances against him in Final Jeopardy. But Manningham’s been criticized for coming off like a total dunce and in my experience there are far less articulate athletes out there. In my opinion, the worst part of the interview was that Manningham seemed to be conducting it on the run. Lots of jostling sounds and garbled replies. At one point, I thought I heard a car-door chime go off. I don’t know about you, but if I’m doing a national radio interview on the eve of the draft that might be heard by GMs and coaches, I lock myself in a quiet room, pull the drapes, turn off the lights and focus.

Anyway, here are the salient replies from the interview.

On what he’s learned from the drug-test episode:
“I was just decisions, like, dumb decisions that someone like me shouldn’t have made … It was like three years ago when I first came to school.”

On how he will try to make amends:
“Talk to (the teams). Let them know (about) Mario Manningham. The real Mario Manningham. I’m mature. I’m not stupid. I know what to do and what not to do.”

On how he is trying to convey the “real” Mario Manningham in interviews:
“I don’t tell them nothing. I’m just laughing and smiling … just having a conversation with them.”

On how he’s reacted to the flap:

“I’m not worried about people talking because people are going to talk.”

On criticism that he dropped passes in key moments while at Michigan:
“(laughs) Hey, can’t do nothing. It happens. They say I drop balls, ok, what about caught balls? I can’t say nothing. I just play – get out there and get my ball on.”

On Michigan State’s Devin Thomas getting more pre-draft hype than him:
“That’s someone else’s opinion. I have my own opinion.”

On mock drafts:
“You really can’t pay attention to the mock drafts because some of (the mock drafters) haven’t played a down of football in their life.”

By the way, Manningham said he had visits lined up with the Giants, Dolphins and Texans. The Chron reported that he visited the Raiders today.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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