Rob Maaddi

Colt: Hey, what is up, Bills Mafia? Welcome into another episode of the Buffalo Nerd, your home for Buffalo Bills football with a charity on top. If this is your first time here, thanks for finding me. I’m happy to have you. You’re going to enjoy the show you came in on a great guest. Not that they’re all not good, go check out every episode, but I’m excited for this one. It’s going to be a lot of fun. If you’ve been sticking around, you are part of the Nerd Mafia already, thanks again for showing up. Glad you’re here.

My guest today, he’s way too big time to be talking to me. We’re going to make this one fun. We’re going to get as much information from him as we can. I’m joined by Rob Maaddi, today. He’s actually the host of the Faith on the Field show with his wife. He writes for the AP NFL writer, had a book. I don’t think I should name everything that he can do. Rob, thanks for coming in. I know you’re a busy man. Why don’t you go ahead and just quickly introduce yourself to the audience?

Rob: Oh, absolutely, man. First off, there’s no such thing as being too big-time for anybody. I don’t believe in that, and I think, we should always stay humble in everything that we do, no matter what we accomplish in life, man. So, I appreciate all of the nice words and kindness in the intro. But yeah, like you said, I’ve been an AP writer for 21 years, just recently was promoted to NFL writer. So, I no longer cover the Phillies and Eagles. I used to cover Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers for the first couple seasons, and then Phillies and the Eagles exclusively. But now, I just cover the NFL as a whole. However, I am still going to maintain it. I’m a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voter. I will still continue to do that and maybe cover some spring training, occasionally. There’s a little bit of downtime in the NFL season, maybe a week in March right before free agency starts.

As you said, Faith on the Field show, that’s my passion. Launched that show four years ago. My wife, Remy, is now my cohost. We’ve had a couple of different people in those chairs alongside me and along the way. We are on seven different sports radio stations in seven different states. The goal is to be in 50 different states and at least one sports radio station in all of those. So, we’re getting there. We’re growing, man. We’re getting there. Very excited about that. I was on 97.5 The Fanatic for the past three years until I just recently moved from New Jersey to Florida. So, I’m living in chaos, Colt. It’s crazy right now. I can’t even find my clothes. So, I’m sleeveless right now, I couldn’t find my headphones, and I’ve been in and out of work, monitoring, moving, and doing all that. It’s crazy, I get promoted, and all of a sudden, I’m on vacation, because I’m moving. But hey, football is going to be there when I get back to it tomorrow. So, I’m excited about that. 

Colt: Yeah, very awesome. We hit that a little bit before we got started. You’ve got kids, they are going to be ready to start school back up, you’re moving, everything’s happening. Absolutely, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be quick-hitting. He left out one other thing that he actually does is, you have a book. You wrote actually Birds of Pray when Philadelphia went through that epic season where they won the Super Bowl recently. It’s very cool.

But before we dig into all of the football stuff, and we get your opinion on some football matters, we always like to do on the Nerd as we do like to start out by highlighting a charity each week. As the guests, you get to choose that charity. Why don’t you go ahead and not tell us who you chose and why you chose them?

Rob: Yeah, Faith on the Field show, which is a radio show, but it’s also a ministry. As I said, it’s my passion. Well, it’s something that for us to grow. We continue to get a lot of help, whether it’s sponsors who to be part of the show, whether it’s just people reaching out and saying, “Hey, we really love the mission. We really love the fact that you are using your platform as a sports writer, as a sports radio host to just spread the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and people just want to help. They want to contribute. Like I said earlier, I want to be on a different station in every state. So, we need revenue sources to help us get there and there’s a lot of different ways. All you’ve got to do is go on faithonthefieldshow.com, check it out.

There’s four years’ worth of episodes that we’ve done. Tremendous guest lists from Hall of Famers across all sports. I’m really NFL heavy because I cover the NFL. So, most of my guests are from the NFL. But I’ve had– Clayton Kershaw has been on, Trevor story has been on, Adam Wainwright, Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics. Haven’t had too many hockey guys. I’ve got to get a couple of hockey players in there, but it’s tremendous. But people can go. If you don’t have to listen to it live on the radio, we’re on Saturdays or Sundays depending on the station in the state. You can always check out the podcast version after we air and it’s at faithonthefieldshow.com or any of the podcast platforms. You’ve got information on how you can reach out to us or whatever it is.

I’ve got to tell you, it’s really encouraging when people just say, “Hey,–” There’s one particular guy, last week reached out to me. We were on early in the morning in Philadelphia on 97.5 The Fanatic. “I set my alarm for every Sunday, so I can get up and just listen to the show,” and I didn’t have the heart to tell him like, “Dude, you don’t have to get up to watch it. Just go listen to the podcast, go over to podcast platforms, but I appreciate you tuning in and listening to it on the radio.” So, that’s how people can check us out, man.

Colt: Yeah, that’s really awesome. That’s cool to hear fun stories like that. Yeah, maybe that is that how that guy keeps going in the morning. So, better not turn that off. Right? 

Rob: Yeah. Definitely not.

Colt: That’s funny. Very cool. Like we do every week, you’ll be able to find everything in the show notes, it’ll connect you right over to Faith on the Field show and everything like that. You can check out the website. The books there, everything’s there. Like you mentioned, all in one, it’s like a one stop shop for everything you’re doing. You just recently launched into these other five cities recently here, right?

Rob: Yeah, Orlando 96.9 The Game or Fox Sports, Las Vegas, ESPN Charlotte, Anaheim, the Angels Radio Network, we’re on there too as well. So, it’s very exciting and also, we’re in Atlanta. Very exciting. We’re expecting in the next couple weeks, hopefully, to add one or two new stations in a couple different states. So, stay tuned for that information. But it’s just a really cool thing to be able to do. A lot of different people reach out in those markets and say, “Hey, this is crazy. I just tuned in to my radio, listening to sports talk and whatever.” Some of them are Fox affiliates, some of them are ESPN affiliates, or whatever it is. Here we are, we’re talking about faith, we’re talking about God, we’re talking about Jesus, we’re talking about athletes and what keeps them going, what motivates them, what inspires them, what’s happened in their life that helped them reach this point, and how they really can continue to just change their inner circle or change in wherever they are. A lot of people think, “Hey, I want to change the world.” Well, you don’t have to change the world. You can just change whatever you are, what your control, your neighborhood, your marketplace, your locker room, your clubhouse, your home. It starts in our home, it starts with my children, it starts with my wife. So, it’s just the little teaching moments like that in there.

Colt: Yeah, it’s awesome. Everything that you just brought up as the exact reason that I even got into doing this in the first place, was you don’t always have all the money or whatever in the world, but you do have some time, you do have some energy, and if you’ve got a passion about reaching out and meeting people, and chatting football, and finding out about cool organizations, hey, start a podcast. I’m already doing that, but hey, as everybody else can too. So, it’ll be a lot of fun.

But since you’re pretty heavy still into Philly, I’m sure that you just magically– because you’re covering the NFL, you didn’t give up on what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years of your life, which is being part of Philly. So, I’m curious. What is the state of the Eagles? There was that great success. when you wrote the book. It was phenomenal year. It felt like things were going to be able to continue down that road for a couple more seasons at least, and it fell off a cliff, and it’s like a rebuild again, but what’s going on? What do you think? Is this a good football team right now or what are we looking at?

Rob: I think, initially, I was like in a five- to seven-win category for this team and I’ve increased it from six to eight. Jalen Hurts has had a little bit of a struggle so far in training camp right now. That’s to be expected. Devonta Smith, the leading wide receiver, first-round pick, the guy they expect to be the guy, the number one guy has been hurt. So, he hasn’t been out there with them. Of course, they have a rapport. No mistake about it, it’s a rebuilding year. You’ve got a rookie head coach who’s never been a head coach at any level. You’ve got a young coaching staff, you’ve got a young core of players, a quarterback who has started four games in the NFL, consistent rumors that they’re going to try and replace him with Deshaun Watson or trade up in next year’s draft, and try and get somebody else. 

For me, the priority in 2021 is finding out if Jalen Hurts could be that guy. If Jalen Hurts could be your starting quarterback in 2022, so you don’t have to go out there and trade some of your assets to acquire a franchise quarterback. Now, we all saw how things played out with Carson Wentz and things can change like that. They changed just like that in Philly. You went from a franchise quarterback to now searching for one in a matter of a couple years. So, it’s a very, very important year for the Eagles from that standpoint but they’re in the division, Colt, where the NFC East isn’t all that good. We had a losing team when the division last year. The Eagles defeated Washington in the final game of the regular season and Giants would have won the division at six wins, which is just terrible. 

My bold prediction for this year is that the NFC East will have a division champion that has a winning record but that could be nine to eight. That’s about it, man. I can’t even go more than 10 wins in the NFC East right now. I think that’ll keep the Eagles in somewhat of a contention into December because all four teams will be jumbled. There’s a lot of parity. So, they’ll have something to play for towards the end of the season. I don’t see them being there at the end as far as being in the division race to win it, but I think they’ll surprise people in that they’ll be more competitive than many of the expectations nationally are for this team.

Because people look at rookie head coach, unproven quarterback, they must be dreck. I still think there’s some things that this team has. If the offensive line comes back healthy, that’s going to be a huge step. That will allow Jalen Hurts to have more sufficient time to be able to play the quarterback position better. If Miles Sanders can take a step forward at running back, we’ve seen flashes of his excellence, if he could take another step and maybe be a Pro Bowl caliber running back, that’s going to significantly help this team. It’s all contingent upon that offensive line. Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks are two of the best on the right side. They’ve had significant injuries that they’re trying to come back from, and if they do and if they’re healthy, then I think that can help the Eagles maybe change the outcome of their season by a win or two. So, that’s why I say six to eight. Six on the low end, eight if they can be a little healthier up front.

Colt: Yeah, that’s really– Jalen Hurts to me is– there hasn’t been an Alabama quarterback to pull it off in the NFL yet. Until there’s one that does it, there’s going to be that that piece, and the Dolphins have that same situation with too. So, they are both question marks but I agree. New head coach, you already have this guy in the building that was here when you got here because somebody liked him. You might as well put them out there and see if he can fit into your system and if he can’t fit into your system, then you can look at who drafted him and said, “Well, he just doesn’t fit. You see it. Let’s move on.” But we’ll see. I agree. He should probably just get the opportunity and so many people undervalue the offensive line in the NFL. But if you just go and look, look for a bad offensive line, you’ll find bad teams, you’ll find bad numbers, you’ll find it all with a bad offensive line. So, that’s sure fire.

But you mentioned NFC East, every season, it’s basically like everybody points in each other and says, “I don’t want to win,” and they all did that to each other. So, it’s like they’re drawing straws or something takes place over there. But if you had to pick who’s going to win it this year with the nine wins that you’re thinking, I vote Washington. Who would you say?

Rob: I love Washington’s defensive line. I think we all do, and anybody who has watched that team play and be in that– Ron Rivera to me is a very good head coach. I am not as sold obviously of their quarterback situation. Many people aren’t right now and we’ve got to see. But Ryan Fitzmagic, forget about Fitzpatrick. He’s Fitzmagic to me, always will be. He’s the epitome of journeyman quarterback, and he can do some different things, and get teams going, and rally guy off the bench, and all that. But I can’t pick Washington to win the division when I look at Dallas and I see the firepower they have on the offense. If Dak Prescott can be healthy and be– He’s not going to be the guy he was early last season. They were tremendous. They were at historic offensive pace. Yet, they weren’t winning because the defense was so bad. So, no matter how great that offense was, they still weren’t winning. But if he can maybe get back to that by mid-season, late in the season, they just have so much firepower offensively, if the defense can just shut teams down a little bit. I’m not saying hold teams under 20 points, but you’re going to have to win a lot of games. 31, 27, if you’re the Cowboys 35, 31, those kinds of shootouts right now and I think they’re capable of it. I love their addition of Micah Parsons in the first round. To me, he’s a playmaker.

I thought the Eagles should have gone– They never draft linebackers. The Eagles haven’t taken linebacker in the first round since 1979 or 1980 although Marcus Smith was technically a linebacker a couple years ago, but Micah Parsons, such a playmaker, a game changer at linebacker. I think he’s going to help the Cowboys significantly on defense to the point where, if I had to go one team gets those nine wins, I’ll lean towards Dallas. But I think it’s Dallas, Washington, and New York, all neck and neck. They could all be between that eight- and nine-win range. Maybe even two teams that are not in any, one gets it because of third tiebreaker, fourth tiebreaker, whatever it may be. So, I’ll lean towards the Cowboys.

Colt: Yeah, my thing with the Cowboys is, out of that division, I choose the best defense, I think, and that’s what mostly follows. The Cowboys just haven’t been out to play defense since forever. It doesn’t feel like they’re ever going to, but I agree Parsons that– They got so lucky. He just fell in their laps. That was set up for them to make another bad decision, like they sometimes can do, and he just fell right to their laps. I have a little concern about Dak being injured already and to me, but I do agree that offensively that is the best team by far. The wide receiver trail that they have right now is truly good, but you’re seeing what it takes when you pay big money to wide receivers to quarterbacks to running backs, that when that quarterback gets hurt, and then you look back there and go, “Wait, who’s the backup quarterback again?” So, that’s my only thing for them is, I think they have true depth issues at that quarterback position that if Dak goes down, they’re in big trouble, and they don’t always to respond that well in those types of situations, but it’s going to be another NFC East season, I agree. 

Rob: Yeah, that’s a team to me– When we look at Nick Foles in Chicago as a third string quarterback and where he could potentially end up, and there’s conversation about Nick Foles, and Indianapolis because of the familiarity with Frank Reich. Man, if I’m Dallas, that’s a guy that I would look at just in case something happens to Dak, that’s a guy that you could plug in there. I know he wants to go somewhere where he’s familiar with, the offense are familiar with some of the coaching staff, but that we know what he could do as a backup quarterback. He’s a Super Bowl MVP, and Eagles fans would hate to see that. They would hate to see Nick Foles in a Cowboys uniform. That might be one of the weirdest, ugliest things that you could see as an Eagles fan, but he would make a lot of sense for the Cowboys for exactly all that you said. If Dak Prescott can’t go, with all the talent that they have, if they don’t have Dak, we saw it last year, they can’t do anything. I’m not a big fan of Ben DiNucci.

Colt: Yeah, and they still haven’t learned how to play defense from what I’ve seen. Till they figure that portion out, they have to have a starting quarterback and that’s basically all it is. Speaking of starting quarterback, I want to get your opinion on this because Dak, he got paid recently where he’s gotten big money. In Philadelphia, you guys handed out some big money to a couple of quarterbacks that never really played much for you after they actually got handed that big money. So, it’s a dangerous situation giving quarterbacks big, big money like this. Now, the Buffalo Bills, just a few days ago, hand Josh Allen, the second-largest– he’s going to be paid the second highest-paid quarterback this season. He’s getting paid $150 million guaranteed. I’m all for it, because I come from the Bills where we haven’t had a franchise quarterback in forever and searching for one is terrible and I don’t want to do it anymore. But where do you stand on this Josh Allen deal? Is he worth this deal? Is this something that you would do? Is this something you say, “Yeah, this is the kid. You just give him the next six years and see what happens?”

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Rob: When you look at that kind of money, you hope that you’re giving it to somebody who’s going to win you at least a Super Bowl or more. That’s the only thing that I think fans can say justifies that kind of contract. But in Josh Allen, I think the Bills have somebody who we saw his rise from year two to year three, and yet I still think the ceiling, he hasn’t hit it yet. He can go to another level. He can even be a better quarterback. I love the fact that most teams when they have that success, they lose their offensive coordinator. Brian Daboll will still be there. He’s going to work with him in another year, in that system, the familiarity is there. So, I think Josh Allen can have an even bigger season this year. I really like his tools, I love the way he plays the game, but I love his just– 

The way his command, his poise, his character, his leadership, all the intangibles, he checks those off. So, if you’re going to give a quarterback a young guy, because Lamar Jackson is going to get paid, Baker Mayfield is going to get paid, but of those guys, to me, the certainty of the three is Josh Allen, and we saw that last year, and we saw the impact that it had on the Buffalo Bills going all the way to the AFC title game. So, I don’t know that he’s going to win a Super Bowl for the Bills, but I’m willing to bet he’s going to have the Buffalo Bills in contention for the better part of the next decade.

Colt: Yeah, for me, that’s what it truly is, yes, I’m all about the Super Bowl. Everybody has to be. If you don’t go into a football season with hoping that you’re going to in fact win a Super Bowl, then it’s not very much fun. But for me, it’s the division title every year. I don’t care about anything else, except for the division title because then you at least have a shot to be the king. If you’re not in the playoffs, you don’t have a shot. And I agree, I think Josh Allen for the next six years is going to guarantee that the Bills can be a contender in the playoffs every year. For me, that’s more than worth the money. Especially, like we just mentioned, there are going to be other guys getting paid, you put your number out there first and then that way, if the next guy in, he’s going to get paid a little more or Allen slips a little bit this season, which is possible and could still have a phenomenal year. I just feel like it was a win-win for Buffalo. He’s a great guy for the community. You can’t look for a better story for just a guy that didn’t give up on himself and he’s finally getting paid. 

I’ve seen a lot of like, “Well, Brady was only paid $250 some odd million over his 20 seasons, and he’s got all these titles, and the Bills are going to pay $258 million for six seasons with who knows how many titles?” Well, I get that but this is how quarterbacks are paid now. You agree? Every deal is going to look similar to this moving forward.

Rob: Yeah, you can’t compare 2000 to 2015 with what the money is right now in 2021. So, those are fun little tweets that people can put out and compare and go, “Oh, can you believe this?” But yeah, we can look at that in baseball and say so and so was paid a million dollars in 1995, and here you go, now, guys are making a million dollars per start like Clayton Kershaw and guys like that. So, it’s crazy to think of the dollars. But Josh Allen, I believe, is going to live up to the hype and the expectations. We already saw it.

To me, if you’re a Bills fan, the most exciting thing is, is that he’s just scratching the surface. I love the chemistry that he has with Diggs. And instant, he was so instant last year. You saw that from the beginning and if they can improve– Both of their running backs averaged over four yards per carry last year but if they can be a little bit more consistent, take a little pressure away from the past game, and build up some leads early, and then take just one football and save a little bit of here or there, I think that’ll help them down a stretch. For them, it’s going to all come down to, can you get home-field advantage, can you get that number one seed? I think to win the division, but can they get that number one seed? If Kansas City trips up, take advantage of that, and you want to have home field throughout the AFC playoffs, the road to the Super Bowl going through Buffalo. And if that’s the case, then they’ll be the favorite to get there. 

Colt: Yeah, I always like that approach where you definitely want to have the number one seed. In the AFC right now, it just feels like all the powerhouse teams that could be there are all okay with playing in the cold weather. It loses a little bit of its luster, but when you’ve got 70,000 Bills fan screaming compared to 80,000 or 70,000 Raven fans or whatever it may be, absolutely is worth it. I think the Bills are set up to win the division. I think that the difference of what has happened in Buffalo and Philadelphia right now is Jalen Hurts, we talked about him earlier, he’s not really set up to succeed right now with a lot of talent and things like that. Josh Allen has been just provided stability to work with as they’ve progressed him, and you are seeing that he probably hasn’t scratched the surface yet because he’s had so much support and good talent around him that there’s so much more room for him to go, which is incredible if you really think about it. Where do you stand on, as far as you say, Bills winning division, but how do you feel about New England in Miami?

Rob: I am not sold on Tua, man. Like you mentioned earlier with the Alabama quarterbacks, I don’t think there’s that much difference between Tua and Jalen Hurts to where one is a top-five pick and the other guy’s a second-round pick. For that reason, I like Flores, I like the coaching style, I like his ability to get guys and get the max out of them in Miami. I’m not as much of a Bill Belichick– You’ve got to appreciate and admire what he’s done over the course of his career. I think last year showed you that it was more Brady than Bill Belichick because Brady goes on and wins the Super Bowl and Bill doesn’t. He doesn’t even make the playoffs. So, they’ve still got to figure out the quarterback situation right now. I know they drafted a quarterback but they got Cam Newton. They’re going to be a team that I think can stay alive, and stay in contention for a wildcard spot but they won’t make the playoffs. 

To me, it’s a two-team race between Buffalo and Miami but I could see this division coming down to where Buffalo wins it with two weeks to spare and the only reason I’m playing their guys the last two weeks is fighting for that number one seed, not fighting for the AFC East. So, if they can get that one, I like them to go to the AFC, I like them to win in the championship and going to the Super Bowl, and if they have to go through Kansas City, again, then I’ll lean towards the Chiefs. But I got a couple of connections in Buffalo with the big Sean McDermott guy. He came through Philly, Derek Boyko, the PR boss over there, was an Eagles guy, one of the best in the business, just an awesome, dude. So, I always find myself like checking out the Bills going in, like nice to see them do well, and it would be nice to see them get there in the end. 

Colt: Yeah, I think there’s something about it, it’s like everybody will start to jump on board as the Bills finally get there if they do breakthrough because everybody does always just think back to the heartbreak of the four consecutive years when you just had phenomenal football teams that just couldn’t get over the final hurdle. But it’s definitely a lot more fun coming into a season when you know you’ve got a football team that can contend compared to not. So, that’s exciting either way. I’m super pumped for this season. I think the AFC is stacked all the way across the board. I think the Cleveland Browns are going to make their presence felt in the AFC this season, and I called it last week on the show, I’m calling Browns-Bills, Battle of Lake Erie for the AFC Championship this year. 

Rob: Wow. 

Colt: I think it would be really exciting, and I think it’s potentially– they almost had Kansas City last year, and I’m one that says it’s way harder to be on top and be chased. There’s way more pressure being the Kansas City Chiefs than anybody else right now. You’ve got to go up there and get them. They’ve got to try to hold it down. But I think that’d be pretty exciting, especially because nobody in their right mind would have thought three years ago that was ever a possibility.

Rob: Yeah, it would be a fun thing. I just look at Kansas City. For all the little things that are going to pull them away from being there at the end, they still have the x-factor, Patrick Mahomes, and what he can do. We saw in the Super Bowl how important it is to have to block up front for him. Because when he didn’t have his two tackles, he couldn’t do anything against the ferocious Tampa Bay defense. But he’s still to be such a dynamic talent and a game-changer at that position who can really win games for his team singlehandedly and for that reason, I will take Kansas City over Cleveland every single day of the week. I’m not sold still also on Baker Mayfield. They’ve got a lot of talent. I love their coach, Kevin Stefanski. But I’ll take Kansas City and Buffalo again in a rematch in the AFC title game.

Colt: I’m not complaining. 

Rob: [laughs] 

Colt: It’s still got Buffalo there. So, I’m not complaining. We’re coming up here at the end of everything. I want to thank you for hanging out with me, Rob. Is there anything that you’ve got coming out that you want to shout out? I know you’re in the middle of a move. You guys are trying to expand the networks. Anything else going on that’s big and you want to mention?

Rob: No, other than we are trying to expand the show in the next couple of weeks. Faith on the Field show is going to be hopefully expanding, and if it’s not the next two weeks, it might be over the course of the next three weeks, four weeks, a month, a month, and a half. But that’s what is my big focus when I’m not covering the NFL for the AP. It’s cool that it overlaps. There’s so much overlap there when I get to do that. I don’t have any new books yet coming up on the horizon. There’s some in the works, there are some ideas, there are some things percolating but man, books, you’ve got to sit down and actually write them. So, it takes a lot of time. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out where my stuff is in trying to figure out. Yo, we got all the refrigerators we needed in the house. So, that’s awesome. School starts down here in Florida tomorrow. It’s early. It’s three weeks, four weeks earlier than New Jersey. So, trying to figure all that stuff out. But yeah, I’m excited about the growth of Faith on the Field. I’m really excited to just dive into covering the NFL 365. Instead of focusing on baseball, NFL back and forth. Now, I get to focus fully on the NFL. So, people could check me out on Twitter @RobMaaddi, M-A-A-D-D-I. I’ll let you know what I’m doing all that stuff there.

Colt: Awesome. We do every week, everything will be in the notes for you guys to connect with him, all the links and everything like that, everything that he’s mentioned so you can catch up with everything that he has done and will be doing in the future. Thanks again, Rob for coming on. Everybody thanks for listening in. Make sure you check it out all the previous episodes because there’s a lot of cool charities that we’ve talked about over there too. Really appreciate you guys though. No show without you. Everything else I’m up to, you guys can absolutely find over at the buffalonerd.com and I look forward to chatting with you guys next week and of course, go Bills!

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