Saturday, April 25, 2009

Texas Tech coach takes aim at Browns' Mangini in defense of Crabtree

Can we call this Diva-Gate?

By any name, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach helped liven up the first day of the NFL draft.

After Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 10 pick in the first round, Leach spoke to reporters at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

Leach used the interview to praise Crabtree and defend him against accusations that he’s a diva. Leach took aim at Cleveland coach Eric Mangini for apparently leaking that claim after Crabtree visited the Browns before the draft.

“Anybody who refers to him as a diva doesn’t know him very good,” Leach said during a conference call. “My definition of a diva is somebody who’s loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree’s the furthest thing from loud I’ve ever seen. Michael Crabtree is self-effacing to the point where when he’d have the biggest of games and the biggest of moments, he would shyly hold his helmet and shuffle his feet. The sports information director would say,’ We have ESPN here, we have Sports Illustrated, we have the Sporting News, and then you’d look up and he was gone and he’d refuse to answer the phone. I’ve seen Michael Crabtree run from the spotlight more than I’ve seen him chase the spotlight.”

Leach was later asked if Mangini had ever called him to get information about Crabtree.

“No, which I find interesting,” Leach said. “I think he took it upon himself to figure that in a few minutes he had all the expertise on Michael Crabtree that he needed. So, you know, we’ll see how all those non-divas up there in Cleveland do this year. And here’s the other thing. It’s interesting that a guy who really has not accomplished a great deal there at Cleveland or the Jets, for that matter, would have the temerity to publicly comment on A, someone that he doesn’t even know and B, someone whose accomplishments speak for themselves. And within the specific field that Michael Crabtree is in, Michael’s accomplishments speak louder than Mangini’s do.”

At the end of the interview, Leach had a parting shot for Mangini.

“I appreciate your having me on,” Leach said. “On behalf of everybody here at Texas Tech, we’re very sorry we did not make a proper impression on Eric Mangini. We certainly hope that in the future that we can do better, because out here in West Texas, we’re all aspiring to somehow impress him.”

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