If you're the sensitive type, you might find a spot in your soft heart for Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini.
Then again, if you're a hard-core football fan, how can you be sensitive? They say that coaches are hired to be fired, and few people are more willing to pull the plug than angry fans that haven't had a taste of consistent winning for two decades.
If the Browns continue their losing ways, there won't be much patience shown by the fan base. So what if the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart are having trouble walking and running back Peyton Hillis is limping along next to them.
Mangini has to wonder what he did wrong to be handed such a mess. The Browns felt that adding quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace would provide stability - not a long-term answer - at the key position on the team. Both are now likely to miss Sunday's game in Pittsburgh because of high ankle sprains, which could mean a start for rookie Colt McCoy.
Mangini is criticized for many things but there's nothing he could have done to prevent the injuries. With Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New England and the New York Jets the next four opponents, there might not be anything he can do to prevent a 1-8 record.
Would that be his fault? Should team president Mike Holmgren pull the trigger at that point or perhaps earlier, or should he ride out the rest of the season to see if there's another four-game winning streak similar to the end of last season in the works?
Much will depend on how Mangini handles the cards he's been dealt and, more importantly, how the players deal with another lost season.
The fact is that quarterback Brett Ratliff, who was signed this week off New England's practice squad, is Mangini's guy. When Mangini took the Browns' job last year, he brought Ratliff with him from New York to be a backup to Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn - what a horrible crew that was. McCoy is Holmgren's guy. The president relied on veto power to overrule the wishes of general manager Tom Heckert and Mangini in selecting McCoy in the third round of the draft.
There's no reason to think that Mangini won't start McCoy if Delhomme and Wallace can't go, but you never know. Mangini was accustomed to doing things his way last season. He yielded that authoritative power to save his job, but old habits die hard.
What if Mangini plays Ratliff in some capacity against the Steelers? That might not sit well with Holmgren, who, as a noted quarterback guru, saw how bad Ratliff looked in training camp and in preseason games.
Mangini can't win a power struggle with Holmgren, who has enough influence to change the team colors if he so desired. Mangini will likely start McCoy and stick with him, no matter how ugly it could get.
If it does get ugly in coming weeks - high ankle sprains don't heal quickly - the players could turn on Mangini. He somehow held the troops together when all seemed lost last season. Whether that was because of shrewd coaching and communicative skills on his part or desperation by players trying to save their jobs can't be determined.
Can Mangini pull another rabbit out of his hat this season? Perhaps, but only if the rabbit has one healthy leg and can throw a football.