It continually amazes me how much Bill Belichick and the Patriots get mocked and criticized by the media and fans, yet continue to win around 80% of their games. Criticized for the Mankins pick, and now criticized for the Mankins trade. How could you draft this guy there? becomes How could you trade this franchise cornerstone?

Time after time, the local media is critical of a pick, trade, cut or other decision, to the point of being insulting, and time and again they are proven wrong. Does the media ever look back and say, “Wow, I really bollixed up that analysis?” Rarely, if ever. Granted, this is mostly being done by sports radio hosts, the national media and know-nothing local “columnists” relegated to posting videos in their bathrobes, but this influence is out there. On the beat, you’ll hear a lot of talk about the “heartless, unsentimental” coach.

On Twitter yesterday it sure seemed to me that more people were pissed off that the Patriots had acquired another Rutgers player than they were that the team had traded away Mankins. Because that Rutgers “obsession” has really cost the Patriots dearly.

The fact is, this is Belichick and the Patriots getting out a year early rather than a year too late. They’ve done it numerous times. Milloy, Seymour, Warren, Moss, Welker, now Mankins. Each time there has been uproar, and each time the team has largely been proven correct. Has anyone locally pointed out that Danny Amendola will likely be playing meaningful football this season while Wes Welker ponders his future after yet another concussion? Does anyone bother pointing out that with the Seymour trade, the Patriots selected Nate Solder who plays the most important part of the offensive line and does it well? If Tim Wright comes in and duplicates or exceeds what he did last season will anyone acknowledge it?

It’s laughable when I hear columnists or radio hosts cry that the entire local media is in the bag for Belichick and the Patriots. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I heard and read so many laments about losing Mankins when it is so important to keep Tom Brady upright. Was anyone paying attention when Mankins gave up double-digit sacks last year? Or what about perhaps the most important play of the season last year?

Logan Mankins is a beast, and I loved having him on the team. He definitely set the tone, he took no crap from trash-talking opponents, and always came to the defense of his teammates. Will they miss him?


Will they be OK without him? I think so.

Compare and contrast:

Belichick Sells High – Greg Bedard talks sense.

Patriots just aren’t sentimental – Ben Volin, Bedard’s replacement at the Globe, talks no sense.

But winning and turning a profit are 1 and 1A for the front office, and Mankins’s value to the team just didn’t quite match his bloated salary for this year ($6.25 million). Most teams let their aging stars ride off into the sunset, but that doesn’t fly around here, not with Tom Brady’s clock ticking and the need for another championship growing more desperate each season.

Man, where do we even begin to rip this apart?

So Belichick cares about saving the franchise money? He cares about having the team in the best financial shape under the salary cap, which is entirely different from “turning a profit.” Most teams let their aging stars ride off into the sunset? Could we have some specific examples here?

Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, James Harrison, Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Jerry Rice, Bruce Smith, Jason Taylor, Fred Taylor, Ryan Clark, Steve McNair, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, DeMarcus Ware, Champ Bailey.

All of those aging stars surely appreciated their longtime teams allowing them to ride off into the sunset.


44 thoughts on “Pats Bollix It Up Again

  1. I hope you sent him that list of names, Bruce. Would love to see his response. Fact is most teams DON’T let their guys ride off into the sunset anymore. In fact….other than Dan Marino, it’s hard to even come up with ONE. But I would think an NFL beat writer would know that.


    1. They only do when the team stays attached too long. Then the media trashes the team for not trading them sooner.


  2. Volin is terrible. He really is. The idea that most NFL teams let old players “ride into the sunset” is so inaccurate it’s actually kind of scary that the man who wrote it gets paid to write about that subject.


    1. The scar[y|ier] thing is that he came from covering the team who is example #1 with this, and is still looking for Marino’s replacement more than a dozen years later.


      1. Jimmy Johnson probably still kicks himself for not pulling that trigger when he took over for Shula in 1996. Marino could have been the Miami version of JJ’s dynasty-building Herschel Walker trade in Dallas, but for whatever reason(s), he held on to the “icon”, and mediocrity, then descent into the second division soon followed.


  3. Don’t forget this, Bruce:

    @ProFootballTalk The Patriot Way apparently includes asking loyal employees to take paycuts before shipping them off

    It’s by one ‘Darin Gantt’. No clue who he is, but he’s either Florio’s #1 understudy or just an alias Florio uses at PFT.

    Is there a ‘SOP’ for when this happens for the lazy media? Pick one: Cap is crap. Kraft is cheap. Patriot Way.


  4. Bruce, don’t forget LaDanlian Tomlinson–finished his career with the J-E-T-S. Were the Chargers castigated for letting arguably the best player in franchise history leave? They didn’t even get anything in return for him. At least BB got something back for Mankins, Seymour, etc.


  5. I assumed the logical take would have been that while Mankins’ play had slipped, trading him is risky because the area Brady is most susceptible to pressure is up the middle. If you trade or cut him, regardless of the reason, you need to be confident in the next guy up to protect the QB. From the outside looking in, depth on the Pats’ O-line is not a strength right now.

    But I guess “KRAFT IS CHEAP!!” is a much easier storyline to shout into a microphone for four hours.


  6. “See? This is why you can’t just trade a guy like Mankins for a disposable tight end and a draft pick they’ll probably end up never using! But good thing they saved Robert Kraft all that money! In Bill we Trust! Derp derp derp!”

    — Boston Sports Media Types, following Brady’s first sack of the season.


    1. I’m going to plagiarize this, verbatim, for the sample works section in my Globe internship application. I like my chances even better now. Thanks.


    2. I didn’t listen today but Felger was in a tough position, for him anyway, yesterday. Everyone was against this trade so he had to be in favor. However, he couldn’t resist. Stated that the Pats have a model that includes value AND profit. I’m sure the Kraft family thought if we can get rid of Mankins we’ll make more profit. Your absolutely right Mike, they dump 6+ million in salary and take of 500k, how much money is enough for the Kraft family!


      1. Felger has demanded the Krafts, who he describes at the worst owners in professional soccer, sign a designated player since they have been so cheap with that team. They have finally done so. Because the profits of the soccer team have a direct correlation on the overall profits of the Kraft enterprise, a compensating cut had to take place somewhere else. So they got rid of Mankins to save that money. Felger got what he wanted for the soccer team, but it cost the Pats big time. But hey, at least the Krafts get to keep their all important profit margin.

        Sorry, I forgot I wasn’t a media member. Forget that. But let us not forget that the value of the Pats has greatly gone up since the Krafts bought the team. This means they can afford to immediately pay out big time every single year and go for it now. Otherwise the Krafts are cheap. Well that’s Mazz’s argument anyway. Of course the value of the team is meaningless unless the Krafts sell the team. But unfortunately for us Mazz has no understanding of how business actually works. Too bad. The media obviously is dying for the Krafts to sell the team, even though we saw how horrific it was before they bought it.


  7. It’s true that Wright may not have made the Bucs final 53. But the Bucs have a new coach and a completely new offensive scheme, in which Wright doesn’t really have a good fit. A player can be a good player and still be cut if he doesn’t fit in with the scheme, or doesn’t represent value for money in the scheme.

    For example — say, hypothetically, the Pats went to a 5-WR pure run’n’gun offense. (Maybe they hired Mouse Davis or something….) If they fully committed to that scheme, there’d be no place for Rob Gronkowski, who is superfluous position-wise (there’s no TE on the field ever), and probably overpaid as a secondary slot receiver (which given his lack of explosive speed he’d have to be in a run’n’gun style offense). He’d probably get cut or traded. Does that mean he’s a bad player? Absolutely not — it means he’s not a good fit. I think the same thing’s going on here with Wright. He’s a pretty good player who didn’t fit with the scheme, and therefore was unlikely to survive the final cut. (As, indeed, he didn’t, since he was traded to the Pats.)


  8. Actually, I think he was responsible for ::nine:: sacks on the season, most of any interior lineman in the league. My only point was, if you move on from Mankins, what’s Plan B? But it seems no one is interested in asking/answering that question.


    1. I think they are asking that question. We may not like the immediate answers but Mike Reiss, Phil Perry and KG have written posts on who’s next. Belichick has a plan…and it might be Jordan Devey, it might be Josh Kline. It could also be Marcus Canon. I think if Stork gets healthy it is Stork at center, Conley at RG and Cannon at LG with Kline rotating in for a few games. When Kline is comfortable playing all game Canon goes back to being super sub and backing up both tackle and both guard positions.


  9. So much bad media analysis…so little time…oy.

    First myth to dispel, “The Patriots need to cut Mankins because the Revs needed $6 mill to sign Jones”. Paul Perrillo, I think, on WEEI yesterday said the following. “I can see it now, Bob Kraft pokes his head into Bill Belichick’s office and says ‘Bill, you need to trade or cut your 5 time Pro Bowl Left Guard because I need $6 mil to sign a soccer player for the Revs.'” This theory might have been the single dumbest theory uttered in Sports Talk Radio’s history and there is a lot of competition for that distinction.

    Second Myth to dispel, “Logan Mankins was cut for financial reasons because the Pats have a budget”. The Pats were $10 mill under the cap with Mankins contract. If they wanted him they could have kept him. The issue which I think only Tom Curran has made a really rational argument explaining is value. It is not that the Patriots were cheap. It is that in their analysis, Logan Mankins at $6.25 mill was not worth the cap value of $10.5 mill based on how they saw him performing this year. I consider myself a fairly astute football guy, but I can’t grade an offensive lineman. Bill Belichick, Ernie Adams and some of the other coaches…can. A determination was made that Mankins was not worth the value. Further a determination was made that there is a replacement on the roster who can effectively do Mankins job for less money, allowing the Patriots to trade for a TE they feel can adequately step into Hernandez role thereby improving the overall offense. An analyst can argue that they Patriots evaluation is wrong…time will tell… although I am willing to trust Belichick because so far none of these “get out early” moves (Bledsoe, Milloy, Seymour, Moss, Vrabel etc) have come back to bite them in the ass.

    Third Myth to dispel, Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization is somehow obligated or owes loyal players the ability to decline and ride off into the sunset. What amazes me is that after 14 years of Bill Belichick, people in the media in this town and to some extent nationally (Bert Breer) still don’t get it. Bill Belichick’s raison d’être is to win football games. He has no sentiment. He likes guys, he does not like guys, but in the end he is Machiavelli. He does what it takes to keep on winning. This team has won 10 + games 13 years in a row under his leadership. They have been to 5 superbowls and 8 AFC championship games. Bill Belichick is all about success. So to answer the next question which I think Gresh correctly postulated and answered today…if some team offers the Pats a boatload for Tom Brady next offseason and if the Pats truly believe Jimmy G is ready, then Tom Brady will be traded. None of us want to see it. But if Joe Montana could get traded, Tom Brady can be. If Tom wants to finish his career in NE, then I suggest he not get greedy (which he never seems to have done in any negotiation) and don’t let your performance slip.

    Fourth Myth to dispel, because no one in the media was talking abut Mankins’ decline does not mean it was not there or that the organization did not see it. Every year at the draft the pundits and “experts” are confuzzeled and confused by some pick the Pats make…some work out Mankins, McCourtney, some are stretches Tavon Wilson, any receiver they have drafted in the first two rounds, Adrian Klemm. It is clear that what Bill Belichick and his coaches see is different than what us mortals see. As such, the fact that we did not reach the same conclusion that he did, when he did, is less a reflection on Bill Belichick (again look at his won/loss record over the last 14 years) than it is on our or professional pundits abilities to evaluate talent. When after the fact, pundits go back and reexamine film, stats etc and the light goes on whereby they now see what Bill Belichick saw, it does not mean those pundits are piling on or wearing Patriots footies. It means that something that was obvious to a coach with Belichick’s experience needed to be focused clearly in order for the rest of us to catch on. This was true of Bernie Kosar, Drew Bledsoe, Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour, and a host of other players who were never as good after they left NE as they were when they were here.

    Myth five to dispel, “Value equates to cheap”. I do not think any coach in the history of football has understood roster building better than Bill Belichick. He defines the value of ALL players on a sliding ratio of talent/cost. It is not any more complicated than that on the evaluation side. Where it is complicated is on the defining side, where Bill Belichick’s line that determines good value versus bad value might be more closely guarded that the recipe for coke-a-cola. I do not believe the Patriots make any move to pad the bottom line. I think they make ALL moves to assure the maximum value of performance to cost.


    1. Good stuff. This media over reaction has been utterly absurd. NO other team in the league would get this kind of venom spewed at them. The media hates Belechick. They lack integrity and worst of all, knowledge. I never understood WHAT, exactly, the media’s job really was until I saw people like Mike Reiss. To me, the vast majority of them are nothing more than gossipy high schoolers who basically get paid to promote water cooler gossip.


    2. I need to add one more myth to dispel… Mankins and the Patriots had bad blood after the negotiations and then when the Pats came to Mankins and asked him to redo his contract and he refused. The problem with this line of thinking is it assumes that the players ability stayed constant from the moment he signed the original contract. As I have been arguing the Patriots have a value ratio. They were clear with Mankins, based on your performance your value should be X. We are paying you Y. We would love for you to stay but it has to be at Y. Mankins had a choice…stay at Y or either be traded or cut. It was NOT personal. It was not the result of contentious negotiations. It WAS the result of a non emotion value placed on his talents versus his compensation. The Pats were unwilling to live with it if his production was going to continue to decline. They were honest with the player. The Player evidently thought differently of his value. The Team actually did him a solid by trading him to a different team that was willing to honor the existing contact. The Pats could have cut him and then Mankins value would have been set by the Market at who knows what value. I think Mankins knows he was not getting $6 mill on the open market today based on last year’s film. So Felger et al…let’s not make the team out to be the bad guys here. It was BUSINESS not something PERSONAL that came out of a negotiation. It is never personal for the Patriots. It is ALWAYS about value. Just ask that “jerk” about why he signed Revis.


      1. In situations like this, the media elite bemoan the fact that the team has screwed over the player so much and how they should pay them all that money even if their value has declined. They effectively want the MLB model in the NFL, even though any logical sports fan would know that such a thing would negatively impact the NFL in a big way. Felger has often, correctly said on his show that these huge money deals ($20 million plus) for players in the MLB never work out. Yet people like Tony Mazz and Ron Borges desperately want the NFL to adopt this model to get back at “cheap” owners like Robert Kraft. In the MLB, players get these kind of deals and the quality of play almost always goes down big time because they are guaranteed the money, no matter how bad they do. Players like John Lackey can miss an entire year and still get paid their full salary. And they want this type of thing in the NFL!?!


        1. Yes and no. As I see it the real issue is that the hosts do not understand basic economics nor do they understand asset/liability balance sheets with enough understanding to intelligently discuss the the way NFL teams finance payroll and manage the salary cap.

          Case in point Mike Felger’s argument that the “cap is crap”. What Felger thinks he is saying is that any team can manipulate the cap to sign any player that he wants without consequence. The problem is he is wrong. The bill comes due some time…just ask the Redskins, the Jets and the Raiders. If you follow Felgers idea’s about cap manipulation you get a team that might be good for a year or two and then it has 3 or 4 miserable years and then it comes back.

          However if you follow what the Pats do with cap management and value you end up with a team that is perpetually competitive. SO I prefer a team that makes the playoffs 12 of the last 13 years, goes to 8 AFC championship games and 5 Superbowls over a team like the Jets whose fans glory years were once beating the Pats in the playoffs and making it to the AFC championship game twice in 20 years.

          Its not that pundits want to see MLB style spending. Its that they truly believe the cap is more porous than it actually is and that you can manipulate it without consequence.


  10. From: Joe Sullivan, Boston Globe Sports Editor

    To: Ben Volin, Shalise Manza Young, Dan Shaughnessy, Chris Gasper

    Subject line: Week 1 NFL story lines

    Hi everyone,

    You probably don’t need these marching orders by now, but if I didn’t send them, I’d feel superfluous, like why do I even have a job? So, here goes…

    O line plays well, Pats win:

    “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s only Week 1. Tomato cans, etc.”

    O line struggles, Pats win:

    “SEE? We told you so. They’re lucky they only played the Dolphins. Trading Mankins will kill this team in the end. They won’t be so lucky against the (Chiefs, Bengals, Jets, Broncos, Colts, Packers, Chargers–pick one).”

    O line plays well, Pats lose:

    “Bad karma, locker room dissent, loss of leadership, blah, blah.”

    O line struggles, Pats lose:



    1. Ben Volin already told us why we should be afraid of the Phins. Let us not forget, “they beat the Patriots last year.” Also, if the Pats win game one, we will likely get a steady dose of “but they had three key starters suspended.”


  11. Just for laughs the Pats should sign Richie Incognito….so we can all watch the Boston sports media spontaneously combust.


  12. The sad fact is that if a franchise does “let their stars ride off into the sunset”, they are doing their fans _ and the team _ a terrible disservice. Which is why you almost never see it, contrary to yet another yappy ding dong writer. The fact is, trading players, drafting players and ultimately evaluating players is a hugely complicated process. BB an the Pats do it, I believe, better than any franchise in the NFL. Perhaps in organized sports. What is really amazing is that Pats fans know this. The media does not.


    1. The media all believe they are a far better GM than Bill Belichick is. They’re all geniuses in their mind and Belichick the GM is always letting Belichick the coach down. If Tony Mazz was a GM of a team in the NFL, within a year or two would anyone be surprised if that team was threatening a 0-16 season?


  13. Listening to Big O, Pete, and Jerry mock and ridicule Mazz today for his hyper overreaction was pretty funny stuff.


  14. This is where Felger is most in his element. When BB does something big
    and the fans freak out, he gets to stand with the franchise and pick on
    the diehards. He was orgasmic when they traded Randy Moss. Mix in the
    fact that he can take some shots at the Krafts for being cheap, and he
    couldn’t be more comfortable.

    Also, reading Jerry Thornton at Barstool (I know that’s frowned upon here).
    For a guy who bashes Shaughnessy for overusing cliches, he quotes Clark Griswold about waking up with his head sewn to the carpet, everytime BBB does something big. Mankins, Garrapolo, Tebow, etc. I’m kind of shocked how much Thornton’s exposure has been increasing lately.

    Side note–has anyone taken this
    New England Media Sports Survey that they were referencing? Supposedly
    had 13,000 responses. How the hell Mazz can come across as favorite
    personality in the city is incomprehensible.


    1. The Mazz thing has to be trolling. it has to be. How else in the world can the media personality who arguably is the worst in the entire Boston sports media (I’d probably pick Borges and Shaughnessy first on that) get #1? I would totally get Felger getting it, while he is a huge contrarian, he is almost always entertaining and you can’t deny the effect he has had on the media here. But Mazz!?!?! I just don’t get it.

      Felger has been somewhat reasonable on this trade. I completely agree with his notion that the Pats were spending too much money in the wrong places and how this is a correction of that. In hindsight, they probably did screw up on those rookie deals with Mankins and Wilfork (although I’ll admit I’m not sure if their cap situation then didn’t permit such a thing, unlike Felger I’m not going to play make believe and pretend the cap doesn’t exist). Although he is going too far on it being about the Krafts being cheap, even though he’s choosing his words carefully so he doesn’t directly say that.


  15. Applause, sir. Imagine if Felger had someone opposite him that made such astute and salient points. Would be great to listen to.


  16. Wait…you cancelled HBO when the Sopranos ended? That means you missed the last 2 seasons on Entourage.


  17. He’s a 32 year old GUARD. If you were trading him for a draft pick straight up, the best you’d get is a 3rd rounder. So, a 4th rounder and young, cheap, pass catching TE with what I see as a lot of potential in this offense with TB is hardly pennies on the dollar. I guess you could question trading a position that is weak spot, but you also, again in my opinion, improved another position that is a weak spot.

    I look at like this: The team determined that Mankins’ skills no longer matched his salary so they asked him to take a pay cut. He refused. They knew from his former stances in previous situations that that was that. So they had a few options. Release him, in which case you get no return and take a cap hit. Keep him and risk his value going down even more if his play continued to slip this season. Or trade him now and get something of value while he’s still considered to be valuable by others. In my opinion, they made the right choice.

    As for Tim Wright, you can’t assume that he wouldn’t have been traded elsewhere if the Patriots hadn’t made this move. Likewise, there’s no guarantee that the Patriots would have been able to sign him if he’d been released. The guy was an undrafted rookie who had over 50 catches, almost 600 yards, and 5 TDs last year in an anemic offense. I’m sure lots of other teams would see value in him. And I would think that if he can acclimate himself quickly, then he’ll be able to match those numbers this year with the Patriots. In fact, I’d expect him to improve. Perhaps considerably.


  18. Bruce,

    Great article, as always. As it pertains to the Pats being correct on past decisions, you have to remember, that the media, in particular people like Tony Massarotti have their magic what if scenarios about how the team would have been far better if they kept that player. For example, in their minds, keeping Welker last year would have made all the difference, even though the Pats have now been shown as very right on both his value and his ability to physically play the game for several more years. Deion Branch leaving and the Pats being proved that they were correct on him not being as good as he thought he was (and getting a 1st round pick out of it) doesn’t matter, because in their magic what if scenario the Pats beat the Colts in that AFC Championship game with him. Even though in that game the Pats offense put up tons of points and it was the Defense’s inability in the Colt’s overheated, fake noise enhanced dome to keep the Colts from coming back that cost them the game. Playing these types of arguments, these media elite can never been wrong, and they can always hold the Pats at fault even though time and time again the Pats are proven to be correct on their decision.

    The level of vitriol spewed over this move has been very over the top, as always is the case with any decision the Patriots make. It is the perfect opportunity for the media to bring out their “Kraft is cheap” argument once again. If Robert or Jonathan Kraft are going to come to Belichick 2 weeks before the start of the season and force him to weaken his team to make more of a profit, which is how much of the media is describing this, would Belichick remain with the team?

    This week once again gave the media the opportunity to whine and complain about the Pats not “going for it now” and how this move has proved that this season they are not “going for it now” despite the Revis move. These same people who so desperately want the Pats to do this are the exact same people who would be bashing this team to death if they ever went through a season without winning the division or making the playoffs. Look at all the bashing this team gets now when it wins 12 games every season and makes it to the final 4 every year. I can only imagine what it would be like if the team had a year like the media’s beloved Ravens or Giants had last year. The long term strategy the team has taken is what has permitted them to be continously on the doorstep of a championship. For all we know if they did the “go for it now” strategy that the media so desperately desires, we could be in a down year right now and all they’d be doing is bitching and moaning about how we wasted a year with Brady. A player who the media now proclaims hates the team, is on steroids, and is here due solely to luck, not any skill on Belichick’s part.


  19. Agreed. If the Ravens had hit some bad luck in any of those games they won in the 2012 post season or the Pats hit some good luck in their very close loss in the 2011 Super Bowl, how could you not argue that the Pats were more successful during that run? This comes down to a few key plays that went their way in the Ravens’ case and didn’t go their way in the Pats’ case. That’s all. There was no “going for it” in the Ravens case despite the way the media tries to portray it.


  20. Bill Burt asks the question we all have been wondering for years…

    “What does Logan Mankins have in common with Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch, Asante Samuel, Richard Seymour, Wes Welker and Logan Mankins?”

    Yes, I have been pondering what Logan Mankins has in common with Logan Mankins for near on a decade.

    He then says that Wes Welker was not replaced well. Did he not see Julian Edelman play last year? WTF is wrong with people? I’m in the wrong business. I should have been a sports “journalist.” I can just toss crap against the wall and get a paycheck.


    1. I always thought weatherman was the least accountable job in the world. Pretend to know what the weather will be tomorrow. Get it right be seen as a clairvoyant. Get it wrong…try again the next day no harm no foul. However your above example has me seriously rethinking that maybe sports mediot is in fact the least accountable profession out there.


      1. I don’t think there is any doubt about it. Just look at Jimmy Garoppolo… First 2 weeks of camp they were killing the kid saying he’s a “project” with a “long,long way to go”…now the SAME mediots are foaming at the mouth about the possibility of a future “QB controversy” and how BB won’t hesitate to cut Brady….


  21. One possibility that I think everyone has ignored is that maybe this was helping Mankins retain his salary? That he was going to get cut regardless. If Mankins was cut, he loses that salary he was going to make this year and certainly doesn’t get that same amount on the open market given his age, recent performance and position. Belichick has done moves in the past to help veteran players, for example cutting Tommy Kelly earlier than usual this year to give him time to join up with another team. Perhaps, despite how much the media is proclaiming that this is the Krafts being cheap and them getting their revenge on Mankins for his holding out and criticisms a few years ago, that the fact that Mankins was traded rather than cut was to do him a solid and help him keep that salary? Just throwing it out there as a possibility.


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