It's been a story for some time, and it still has legs: New York Jets center Nick Mangold refuses to fly to London to see his sister Holley, who's long been known as an elite weightlifter, at the 2012 Summer Olympics. However, the 2006 first-round draft pick and four-time Pro Bowler, who may be the NFL's best at his position, won't hear of it -- family is one thing, but the Jets' training camp takes priority in his mind.
"That's a long jump over the pond in the middle of August,"Mangold said in June. "We're going to make sure I can watch it and everything. I'll support her the best I can. ... It's disappointing. If it was a week earlier, I would have been there. It's just how the schedule worked out."
Holley says that she understands. "I'd choose training over going to one of his games, so I totally understand it," she recently told our own Maggie Hendricks. "It's a bummer, but I know he'll be watching. I'm happy for his support, and I know it will be there."
According to NBC's schedule, the women's heavyweight weightlifting competition takes place on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 5. Of course, this is NBC's schedule, which means that the actual date could be anywhere in the next three years.
That notwithstanding, it's certainly apparent that the Jets organization understands that Mangold is the ultimate team guy, appreciates his gesture, and wants him to get his butt over to London anyway. On Wednesday, in the middle of a daily round of 10,000 Tebow questions, head coach Rex Ryan shared his feelings on the matter when talking about offensive line depth.
"I think the main thing is, unless you're one of the starting five guys, and even the starting five -- your good teams, you need to prepare for the worst scenario. If Matt Slauson moves to center, whatever -- you don't just learn your one position, you learn others as well. Not just the left tackle, you may be a left and right tackle. Not just a tackle; you may be a tight end. Generally, you're only going to have seven offensive linemen up for a game.
"Guys have to learn different roles, and that's what we're doing. If I can ever get Mangold convinced to go to the Olympics to watch his sister compete, it'll fall on Matt to be the center for that group. You want to be ready to handle it."
And has Rex convinced Mangold to head out to London? "I think so. I think so, but we're not there yet. I'm laying the guilt trip on him, and everything else. And you know what? His teammates understand, and they're pushing him as well. It's not just me."
Ryan, whose twin brother Rob coaches the Dallas Cowboys' defense and whose father Buddy was one of the NFL's best-ever defensive minds, understands the importance of family. But he's got a long row to hoe when it comes to convincing Mangold to do this. We're on Rex's side here. Mangold knows the offense like nobody else on the team, the Jets don't have a preseason game until Aug. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and how many opportunities does one get to watch one's relative show out in the Olympics?
Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross knows this, which is why he'll be watching his wife, Sanya Richards-Ross, participate in the women's 400-meter run on Friday.
"It means everything to me," Richards-Ross told NFL.com's Jeff Darlington. "[Aaron] isn't only my husband -- he's my best friend. And to know he'll physically be in the stands for the most important race of my career thus far is priceless. I could never thank the Jaguars organization enough."
Nick, get across the pond. You won't regret it.
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