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Eric Mangini Reflects on Brief 'Sopranos' Cameo

If you're a fan of "The Sopranos," an HBO drama that aired from 1999-07, you're probably aware of a cameo appearance from a certain member of the Niners coaching staff.

The notable football coach dining at Artie Bucco's restaurant (Vesuvio) happened to be none other than San Francisco's defensive coordinator, Eric Mangini. Nearly a decade later, the show remains a popular option for viewers who prefer an on-demand television experience (this writer included).

Mangini's appearance was a matter of perfect timing. The long-time fan of the show was the head coach of the New York Jets when he received a call about appearing in an epsidoe opposite of lead actors James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) and Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano).

For fans of the show, like Mangini, an opportunity to grace the set and appear on camera was a no-brainer.

"They put me in a perfect role," Mangini recently said of his first acting experience. "I was at dinner, so that's something I'm very comfortable with.

"That was a great experience," Mangini said. "I loved the show and followed the show. When I got the call to go on it, I actually thought it was a crank call when someone said, 'Do you want to be on the show?' Then when I realized it was a true opportunity to be part of that television history on a show that I loved and followed, it was really an amazing experience."

Mangini's acting credits extend beyond his HBO moment.

"The only thing that's comparable from a TV perspective was that I had a chance to be on 'Sesame Street,' working with Elmo, who my son at the time was very passionate about," Mangini said. "Those two things were some of the life experiences you really appreciate."

Talk about the ultimate acting chops.

For more on Mangini's football interests, check out this lengthy story on his mindset towards his first season as San Francisco's defensive play-caller.

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