When the Jets and Redskins take the field on Sunday, it will entail the renewal of an old matchup between Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield and Jets center Nick Mangold. Growing up four hours apart on I-71 in Ohio, the two have been battling it out in the football trenches for more than a decade.
“I’ve been playing against Nick since high school,” Cofield remembered with a smile. “We played in a high school all-star game against each other.”
Back in those days, Cofield attended Cleveland Heights High School and lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track and field. Mangold went to Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, and lettered in football, wrestling, and track and field.
At 300-plus pounds a piece, I’m guessing that they both specialized in the “and field” segments of track and field.
In college, Barry Cofield attended Northwestern and faced off against Mangold’s Ohio State Buckeyes every year. During their time in school, Mangold’s Buckeyes held a 3-1 advantage, but Cofield declared a draw on their personal battles.
“I think it’s been balanced, I think it’s been balanced,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve had some good fights. I’m sure if you asked him, he respects me as a player and I respect him. It’s gonna be a good challenge.”
For the first five years of their NFL careers, they shared a home stadium at the Meadowlands. On Sunday, for the 11th year in the row (in high school, college, NFL regular or preseason), the two will tangle at the point of attack.
“To me, Nick is one of the best centers in the league,” Cofield offered. “He’s a very talented technician, very experienced, and he does everything well.”
But on Sunday, in his new house, Cofield is out to prove that he can do it better.