On the second to last episode of The Sopranos, restaurateur Artie Bucco walks up to Tony Soprano's table with a spark in his eye and a grin on his face. “Tone, you know who's here tonight?” he says while pointing behind him. “Mangenius.”
The camera pans to then-Jets head coach Eric Mangini at a table for two with his wife, Julie. Tony gets up from the table to say hello.
Mangini, who is now the 49ers' defensive coordinator, talked about the 2007 episode in July. He had been a fan of the show since it started, he said, and during the offseason, he got a call on his cell phone. “Hey, do you want to be on the show tomorrow?” the voice on the other end asked.
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“It was like, 'Ok, who's this?'” Mangini said. “'No seriously, do you want to be on the show?' So it just came up out of nowhere. And I loved the show.”
The scene is only seconds long. But Mangini got to meet the late James Gandolfini, he was given a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card and it further cemented his flattering nickname into popular culture. (It's also worth noting that Mangini will now be on a staff with Tony Sparano, who will take over his former role as tight ends coach).
Mangini, however, said he might be more proud of another acting gig he got that year on a decidedly different show set in the New York area, one that features Muppets instead of mobsters, Elmo instead of Sopranos.
“That was my favorite thing because my son loved it so much,” he said. “And now my younger boy can watch it. And I grew up with Sesame Street. Everybody loves Sesame Street.”
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.