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Is it OK for Me to Still Use 'Fredo' When Discussing Eric Mangini?

I have to admit I was shocked – shocked! – this morning to find out that Chris Cuomo and others regard the name “Fredo” as an anti-Italian slur. Not only shocked, but also troubled because this news is giving me a moral crisis.

First of all, because I don’t want to appear in anyway to be slurring any ethnic group. To be sure, I belong to the ethnic group you can slur in public to your heart’s content. But most of that is done by ourselves. Irish on Irish crime, as it were. But that doesn’t mean other ethnicities don’t have the right to choose what you can and cannot call them, right? And I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history when it comes to Italian-Americans demanding they not be disparaged with hurtful words.

To quote a character from the films where “Fredo” became a household name, I agree with Senator Geary when he said “I can proudly say that some of my very best friends are Italian-Americans. … Because from the time of the great Christopher Columbus up through the time of Enrico Fermi right up until the present day, Italian-Americans have been pioneers in building and defending our great nation. They are the salt of the earth, and they’re one of the backbones of this country.” And NOT when he said “I don’t like your kind” and told Michael he didn’t appreciate Italians dirtying up his “clean coutnry” and pronouncing their family name Core-lee-own-ayy. In no way to I want to appear as though I’m tolerating intolerance through the use of slurs disguised as nicknames.


But herein lies my dilemma. What do I do about a man I’ve been calling “Fredo” nonstop since 2006? This man:

New England Patriots 2005 Headshots

I’ve been calling Eric Mangini “Fredo” ever since he left the Patriots after one year as their defensive coordinator to take the Jets job. I call him that not because he’s of Italian descent, because the name is sheer perfection. Because it fits. Because no other nickname will do. Because he betrayed his brother, who has never forgiven him.

New England Patriots Vs. Cleveland Browns At Cleveland Browns Stadium

With apologies to Cuomo and anyone else who’s offended, the parallels can’t be ignored:

Fredo Corleone: Was taken care of by his brother Michael and given a good job in the family business.
Fredo Mangini: Started as a ball boy with Bill Belichick’s Browns at age 23, was promoted to the public relations staff, then made an offensive assistant.

Fredo Corleone: Was sent to Vegas by Michael to learn the casino business from Moe Green.
Fredo Mangini: Was brought to the Jets and New England by Belichick to learn defense from Romeo Crennell.

Fredo Corleone: Tells Michael he loves him at Connie’s wedding.
Fredo Mangini: Had Belichick do a reading at his wedding. (“And Jesus told his disciples, ‘Go forth and Do. Your. Job.'”)

Fredo Corleone: Is nice to Michael’s kids and takes them fishing on Lake Tahoe.
Fredo Mangini: Gave his son the middle name “William.”

Fredo Corleone:
Believes he is smart and can do things and wants respect.

Fredo Mangini: Believes he is smart and can do things and wants respect.

Fredo Corleone: Betrayed Michael to the Roth Crime Family.
Fredo Mangini: Betrayed Bill to the Jets Crime Family.

Fredo Corleone: Broke his brother’s heart.
Fredo Mangini: Broke his brother’s heart.

And after Mangini flamed out with the Jets and Browns, both met a similar fate:


So I’m willing to go along with the idea that Fredo as a nickname is an ethnic slur. All I’m asking is that, after 13-plus years of using it on this one man, that I get grandfathered in. No other word will do.

P.S. If you’ve never seen the HBO documentary on actor John Cazale, find it. It’s less than an hour long and fascinating. He was not only nursed to his death by his girlfriend Meryl Streep, he was in five movies in his career. And all were nominated for Best Picture Oscars. Virtually everybody he appeared with got nominated for acting awards, but he never did. And he was the glue guy who held two “Godfathers,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “The Deer Hunter” and “The Conversation” together. RIP to an incredible talent.