The Colts Influence
The Colts Influence
Peyton spent his final High School season at Newman playing in front of crowds full of college scouts.
With college football powerhouses; the leaders in one of the nation's most intense recruiting wars were Michigan, Florida State, Notre Dame, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Had Cooper still been a Rebel, there's no doubt where Peyton would have gone. Still, the pressure on him to follow in his father's footsteps and attend Ole Miss was overwhelming.
But on January
25, 1994, Peyton shocked a few people when he rejected his father's
alma mater Ole Miss and announced he would sign a letter-of-intent to
play at the University of Tennessee.
After his outstanding high school career, Peyton Manning decided to play college football at the University of Tennessee, where, once again, Manning became a star quarterback for the team. While proving his skills on the field, Peyton Manning proved that he had equal skills in the classroom. Earning a BA in speech communication and graduating with honors was important to Manning, which is why he decided to put his football career on hold until he earned his degree.
Peyton quickly satisfied Volunteer fans. The slender 6-foot-5 dropback passer became a starter in the fifth game of his freshman season and won seven-of-eight starts. The next year he set an NCAA single-season record by throwing just four interceptions in 380 passes. His passing yardage increased every season, as did the adulation. Parents named their children after him, and the Knoxville Zoo did the same with a baby giraffe. Manning, quick to deflect praise, paid scant attention to his growing celebrity.
The state of Tennessee has produced more than its share of folk heroes, from Davy Crockett to Elvis. But probably none is more near and dear to Tennesseans than Peyton Williams Manning.
Peyton used to organize informal summer passing and receiving drills at Tennessee, and would then fume at teammates who didn't show up.
When reporters tried to reach Tennessee coaches late at night, it was Manning, the human tape machine, who frequently answered the phone while he was poring through endless game film. "He's like a sponge for information," said Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer.
Manning hung around the coaches' offices before he even started his freshman year. "We couldn't talk with him then because he wasn't officially on the team," Fulmer said. "So we'd have to kick him out so we could start our meetings."
Manning's focus was so tight that
his college teammates called him Caveman and his bedroom the Cave,
references to a student-athlete who took game preparation and
academics ever so seriously.
"I only know one way to do things," Manning says. "There's no reason to change."
Peyton became Tennessee's all-time leading passer with 11,201 yards, 863 completions and 89 touchdowns, while compiling a 39-6 record as a starter, setting an SEC record for career wins (although Georgia's David Greene would set a new record of 42 wins in 2005).
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is a college athletic conference headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama which operates in the southeastern part of the United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I in athletic competitions; for football, it is part of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; formerly Division I-A). The conference is one of the most successful both on the field and financially, averaging more than six national championships per year since 1990 and consistently leading all conferences in revenue distribution to its members including $116.1 million in the 2005-2006 fiscal year.
In his college career, he threw only 33 interceptions in 1,381 attempts, an NCAA record for best all-time interception percentage. He was 3-1 in his four bowl appearances. He completed his degree in three years, a BA in speech communication with a 3.61 GPA and Phi Beta Kappa honors, and was projected to be the top overall pick in the NFL Draft but returned to Tennessee for his senior year. In his senior season, Manning threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns, lead the Vols to the SEC title and finished second in 1997 Heisman Trophy voting to the University of Michigan's Charles Woodson. Manning received the 1997 James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. In 2005, Tennessee retired Manning's number (#16), making him only the 3rd Tennessee player to have his number retired while still living. One of the streets leading to Neyland Stadium has been re-named Peyton Manning Pass.
For Peyton, Tennessee's quarterback picture was muddled heading into the '94 campaign. Head coach Phil Fulmer had landed another prized recruit in Brandon Stewart, while upper classmen Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton were the incumbents. Determined to win the starting job, Peyton showed up for football camp six weeks early, eager to begin working out.
Fulmer, meanwhile, expected to trudge through a rebuilding year. Heath Shuler and Charlie Garner had left for the NFL, as had six first-stringers on defense. Though the Vols still had plenty of talent, the SEC's East Division promised tough games against the likes of Florida and Georgia, while out-of-conference foes included UCLA and Washington State.
Manning passed up the Louisiana High School All-Star game to enroll in an early summer school session at UT. Earned nickname "Caveman" because of all the time he spent in film study room.
Introduced to University of Virginia student Ashley Thompson, his future wife, at a UT fraternity party. Ashley's grandfather, Van, was a tailback at UT in 1939 and 1940.
September 3, 1994
UT opens at UCLA with Manning and freshman Branndon Stewart backing up Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton. After Colquitt suffers an ACL injury, and Helton leads two drives, Manning makes college debut with a three-and-out.
September 24, 1994
Helton goes down with a first-quarter injury at Mississippi State. Manning comes in and throws his first collegiate touchdown pass of 76 yards to Kendrick Jones. He finished 14 of 23 for 256 yards and two TDs sharing time with Stewart, but Vols lost 24-21.
October 1, 1994
With Tennessee upperclassmen QBs Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton out with injuries, Peyton starts his first collegiate game. In front of a homecoming crowd of 95,556, he leads the Vols to a 10-9 victory over 17th-ranked, Washington State. Peyton completes seven of 14 passes.
Peyton remembers his Father always gave him good tips about a two-minute drill. Just good reminders -- you know, no rocket science: Don't throw it away on fourth down. Always check the down and distance. Always know how much time is on the clock ... you know, stay in charge out there in the huddle.
You know that great advice he gave me about being in charge of the huddle? My freshman year in college, the pre-college football pep talk he gave me was, if you get in the huddle at any time this season, I don't care how old you are, you're the quarterback, you're the leader, you can take control -- I don't care if you're 18 years old. You've got to be a leader as a quarterback. So the first game of the season at UCLA, playing in the Rose Bowl -- Keith Jackson, Bob Griese -- I'm just looking forward to watching the game ... anyway, seventh play of the season, the star quarterback goes down, so they put in Todd Helton. Todd Helton is a baseball player who knows baseball is his future and he's not playing very well. They pull him, so all of a sudden Tom says, tell Peyton to come in.
And I don't think I'm nervous, but all the hair on my arms is just sticking straight up. So anyway, it's time for me to jog in. We're getting beat 21-0, I think, so the team's kind of down. Anyway, I'm jogging in and right then I remember old dad's pep talk. So I get in there and say: All right, guys, I know I'm just a freshman, but I can take you down the field right now and lead you to a touchdown. And I'm fired up. And this left tackle, Jason Layman, grabs me by the shoulders and says, Peyton Freshman, shut the f--- up and call the f---ing play. No lie. I said, yes sir, and called the play -- and I didn't say another word the whole season.
No one was up for a pep talk. Slowly, over the next few months, Peyton's teammates realized just how serious he was about winning. His no-nonsense attitude eventually had its intended effect.
Oct. 8-Nov. 26, 1994
Manning and Vols go 5-1 the rest of the regular season, the only loss a 17-13 decision at home against Alabama.
December 30, 1994
UT coach Phillip Fulmer
gives Manning his first game ball after Peyton passes for 189 yards
and one touchdown in the Volunteers' 45-23 Gator Bowl win over
Virginia Tech. He is named SEC Freshman of the Year.
In the off-season, Peyton watched hours of video, improved his strength and footwork and even organized unofficial practices with key players on the Vols' offense. He entered the fall of 1995 as Tennessee's unquestioned leader. Colquitt was done after his knee injury, Helton opted for a baseball career with the Colorado Rockies, and Stewart simply didn't have Peyton's presence or ability and announces his intention to transfer to Texas A&M.
With Peyton under center from the season's opening snap, Tennessee surged to a record of 10-1, then handled Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl to finish #2 in the polls. Peyton was sensational, completing 244 of 380 passes for 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His biggest day of the year came at Arkansas, as he torched the Razorbacks for nearly 400 yards and four TDs. After the season, Peyton was honored as a Coaches' All-SEC first-team pick and second-team All-Conference by AP. He also made several All-Academic squads.
But in the meat-grinder known as Tennessee football, the campaign was ultimately viewed a failure because of the lone blemish on the Vols' schedule, a loss to Florida. In that one, Peyton guided the team to a 30-14 halftime lead, then watched as Tennessee collapsed in the final two quarters, surrendering 48 points en route to a 25-point blowout.
September 16, 1995
After starting season 2-0 with victories against East Carolina and Georgia, the week leading up to a matchup with rival Florida, Peyton takes it upon himself to watch 20 more hours of game tape than he's required to view. It doesn't help. Vols blow a 16-point lead and Florida pummels Tennessee 62-37 in the third game of Peyton's sophomore campaign, spoiling hopes of a perfect season.
Manning threw for 326 yards, including two first-half TD passes to Marcus Nash. UT wouldn't lose again the rest of the season.
October 7, 1995:
UT beat Arkansas 49-31 with Manning completing 35 passes for 384 yards.
October 14, 1995
Manning led UT to a 41-14 victory at Alabama, including an 80-yard TD to Joey Kent. It was the Vols' first win against the Tide since 1985.
Manning finishes sixth in the Heisman voting as a sophomore, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,954 yards and 22 TDs.
Peyton spent another off-season with his nose to the grindstone, both on and off the field. In the classroom, he took the maximum number of courses available to him. Peyton had his eye on the NFL, but he didn't want to leave college without a degree-even if that meant having to pile up enough credits to graduate by the end of his junior year.
Peyton's third season at Tennessee was a lot like the previous one. Again, his passing totals were super. With defenses focused on stopping him, he still topped 3,000 yards and threw for 20 touchdowns. An AP and Football News third-team All-America, he posted five games of 300+ yards. In a return to the Citrus Bowl, Peyton led the Vols to a 48-28 rout of Northwestern with four TD tosses.
Peyton's two favorite targets were speed burners Joey Kent and Marcus Nash, while Peerless Price also emerged as a deep threat. Jay Graham, meanwhile, was the team's best rusher. On defense, Leonard Little was a difference-maker, helping Tennessee force 30 turnovers and hold opponents to less than 15 points a game.
January 1, 1996
After finishing the regular season 10-1, Tennessee rings in the New Year with a 20-14 win over Ohio State and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George in the Florida Citrus Bowl. Peyton's final stats on the year: 22 touchdown passes, 954 yards passing and just four interceptions.
March 5, 1996
Manning's reputation took a hit when an assistant UT trainer filed a sexual harassment suit against the university.
Manning gets in some trouble for a "mooning" incident involving a female trainer. Case settled out of court.
While having his foot examined by a 27-year-old female trainer in the locker room, Peyton moons a male Vols cross-country runner. The trainer reported the incident to the school's athletic director. "What I did lasted maybe one second, and it was not directed towards her, and there's no way I thought she could see," Peyton says. "I like to play jokes with the guys. I realize now, I've got to be careful."
Among 33 complaints, she charged Manning with baring his buttocks in her face while she was treating his foot. She agreed to a $300,000 settlement with Tennessee the next year. In 2002, the trainer sued again after Manning, in a father-son biography, claimed he was mooning another athlete that day and noted that the trainer had a "vulgar mouth." Jamie Naughright's defamation of character suit was settled in 2003, the details sealed by the court.
September 21, 1996
After opening with victories against UNLV and UCLA, Tennessee falls to Florida - again - in its third game, 35-29. The Vols go on to finish the year 10-2. Manning completes 37 passes for 492 yards, but No. 2-ranked Vols lose 35-29.
October 3, 1996
Manning got a chance to play Ole Miss, his father's alma mater in Memphis. Archie said he had a feeling Peyton "was ready," and he completed 18 of 22 passes in a 41-3 victory.
October 12, 1996
Manning completes 31 passes for 371 yards in UT's 29-17 win at Georgia.
November 2, 1996
In another typical game for Manning, he passes for 362 yards in a 31-14 victory against South Carolina.
November 9, 1996
No. 6-ranked Vols shocked 21-17 in a loss at Memphis.
Manning finishes eighth in the Heisman voting after completing 243 of 380 passes for 3,287 yards and 20 TDs.
As in '95, however, the Vols ended 1996 feeling unfulfilled. Despite a 10-2 record, another embarrassing September loss to Florida stayed with them. In a completely one-sided first half, the Gators built a 35-0 lead. Peyton suffered through his worst moments in a Tennessee uniform, getting picked off four times. Though he responded in the second half with a masterful performance-he wound up with 492 yards passing-it was too little, too late as Florida hung on 35-29.
Jan. 1, 1997
Vols close out season 10-2 with a 48-28 romp past Northwestern as Manning passes for 408 yards and four touchdowns in the 1997 Florida Citrus Bowl.
With Peyton back for his senior year, Tennessee was an easy Top-10 choice in the preseason polls. The main question was whether halfback Mark Levine could shoulder the rushing load. On the outside, Nash and Price returned to give Peyton two of the SEC's top receiving weapons. On defense, Leonard was the main man, though linebacker Al Wilson and corner Terry Fair also showed gamebreaking talent.
Tennessee opened the season with easy wins over Texas Tech and UCLA. Next up was hated Florida, in Knoxville. The Gators shut down the Vols' running game, forcing Peyton into obvious passing situations. He didn't respond well to the pressure and committed several crucial mistakes, including an interception that Tony George ran back 89 yards for a touchdown. The Vols lost 33-20.
Unwilling to give up on the campaign, Peyton called a players-only meeting, urging his teammates to keep their focus on the national championship. When Florida lost two games and dropped out of contention for the title, he looked like a genius. He also played like one. Peyton ravaged Kentucky with 523 yards and four TDs. Against Southern Mississippi, he accounted for five scoring tosses. At Alabama, he threw for 304 yards and three TDs, and afterwards conducted Tennessee's Pride of Southland Band in a rendition of "Rocky Top." All those who questioned Peyton's decision to remain in college were eatingcrow. The Vols were in serious contention for the national championship, and he was a leading candidate for the Heisman.
Peyton and the Vols cruised into the SEC championship game against Auburn. When the Tigers seized a 20-7 lead, Tennessee looked to its quarterback. Peyton delivered a dramatic 30-29 comeback victory and walked away with game MVP honors.
The Vols next prepared for Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The national title equation was simple: Tennessee needed to win its game and hope for a loss by Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Banged up with a sore knee heading into the contest, Peyton received more bad news when Charles Woodson outdistanced him in the Heisman race-a result that raised more than a few eyebrows.
Peyton shrugged off the Heisman disappointment in time for the Orange Bowl, but his knee was still a concern. Fulmer, in turn, reworked the game plan, hoping to protect his quarterback from Nebraska's pass rush. It was no use. The Cornhuskers confused Peyton all night long, limiting him to 134 yards through the air. On offense, Nebraska pounded away at Tennessee's smaller defensive line and rolled to a 42-17 victory.
Peyton ended the year with single-season school marks for completions (287), yards (3,819) and touchdowns (36). He won the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete, becoming only the fourth football player to do so. Peyton also captured the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and was named first team All-America by every major media outlet.
January 1, 1997
Peyton tosses four touchdown passes in beating Northwestern, 48-28, in the Florida Citrus Bowl. The performance earns the junior quarterback the game's MVP honors.
March 6, 1997
After struggling with a decision to turn pro or stay at Tennessee, Peyton sought advice from the likes of Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman and Drew Bledsoe. Though most told him to skip his final college season, Manning announces he would return to the Vols for his senior season, waking Fulmer at 1 a.m. with the news.
Fulmer's reaction: "Peyton, I love you, man."
Manning returned the love by passing for 3,953 yards and 37 touchdowns in his All-American senior season and winning honors by the bucketsful (Unitas, O'Brien, Maxwell and Sullivan awards).
May 16, 1997
Peyton earns All-America honors on the field and in the classroom. It takes him just three years to graduate cum laude in speech communication with a minor in business. He turns down millions in professional earnings to return to the Vols for his senior season, and uses his final year of eligibility to work on a Master's in spanagement.
August 30, 1997
Manning makes the UT faithful happy they have him one more year, passing for five TDs in a 52-17 victory against Texas Tech.
September 20, 1997
After beating UCLA to go 2-0, No. 4 Tennessee travels to No. 2 Florida. Manning throws for 351 yards and three touchdowns, but Vols lose 33-20.
October 18, 1997
Vols beat Alabama for the third year in a row 38-21 at Birmingham. After the game, Manning climbs a ladder and leads the Pride of the Southland Band in a rendition of Rocky Top.
November 15, 1997
Trailing Arkansas late in the fourth quarter, Manning hits Marcus Nash with a 60-yard touchdown and UT goes on to win 30-22.
November 22, 1997
Manning breaks UT single-game passing record with 523 yards and five touchdowns in a 59-31 victory against Kentucky.
November 26, 1997
Manning Receives Unitas Award - Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning was selected Wednesday as winner of the 1997 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
The award, which is given to the top senior quarterback in the nation, was won last season by Florida's Danny Wuerffel, who later captured the Heisman Trophy. Manning will know if he duplicated Wuerffel's feat when the Heisman is announced on December 13th.
November 29, 1997
Manning takes final "Vol Walk" down a street soon to be renamed Peyton Manning Pass. UT beats Vandy 17-10 in Manning's final home game.
December 6, 1997
Vols rally from 10-point second-half deficit to beat Auburn 30-29 in the SEC Championship Game. Manning named MVP after passing for four TDs, including the eventual game-winning 73-yard strike in fourth quarter to Marcus Nash.
December 13, 1997
In a shocking upset and the
most controversial Heisman decision of all time,, the Heisman Trophy
is awarded to Michigan's Charles Woodson at the Downtown Athletic
Club in New York City.
Sure, he throws pinpoint passes, masterfully audibles new plays to befuddle defenses, works constantly on his craft and conditioning, and executes one of college football's most complex offenses to near-perfection. Beyond that, Manning leads in the classic sense of the verb -- by example.
Those qualities made him the probable No. 1 pick of the 1997 NFL draft. But Manning valued college over cash and stayed put (even though he already had his diploma, which he earned in only three years). Many pundits claimed that last March's decision won him the Heisman, and such a reward would be justified.
But Manning went out and earned the trophy in the fall, taking his team to a Top-5 ranking and the SEC title, and becoming the conference's all-time leading passer along the way. And every week, every game, every pass was accompanied by the kind of pressure and scrutiny usually reserved for politicians.
Whenever he's asked about the
Heisman, which is almost daily, Manning's response is consistent and
clear: He's not worried about individual awards, only team victories.
January 2, 1998
Manning had suffered a knee injury in SEC title game and isn't 100 percent in the last game of Peyton's collegiate career, Tennessee loses to Nebraska 42-17 in the Orange Bowl.
Manning finishes his UT career passing for 11,201 yards and 89 TDs, completing 62.5 percent of his passes.
In February 1998, Peyton becomes only the fourth football player in history to win the Sullivan Award, an honor bestowed upon amateur athletes for outstanding character, leadership, athletic ability and ideals.
Despite his inability to win the big one at Tennessee, Peyton was the talk of the 1998 NFL draft. The Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers owned selections #1 and #2, and both teams needed a quarterback. Indy GM Bill Polian made the call, settling on Peyton over Ryan Leaf, Washington State's much-ballyhooed signal caller.
Peyton graduated with a 3.61 GPA in speech communication and minor in business, and is now a graduate student in sport management.
Directed Tennessee to a career record of a 39-5 mark as a starter
Holds UT's all-time record with 89 TD passes
Holds 33 UT single game, season and career offensive records
Thrown for at least 300 yards in nine times and finished with the second highest single season SEC passing total of 3819 yards
SEC's third all-time leading passer
SEC championship game MVP after 373 yd, 4 TDs
Ranks third in NCAA history in career passing yards and fourth in touchdown passes
Walter Camp All-America; Football News All-America and SEC Player of the Year; FWAA All-America
SEC Championship MVP after 373-yard, four TD performance
Davey O'Brien Award - Awarded to the Nation's Top Senior Quarterback
Earned Citation for Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service from the Chancellor
Winner of Johhny Unitas Golden Arm Award - Awarded to the Nation's Top Quarterback
Elected co-captain along with Leonard Little for the 1997 season
Named winner of National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Award
Maxwell Award - Nation's Top Player
College Football All-America Team
James E. Sullivan Award - Awarded by the Amateur Athletic Union to the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States
NCAA Top VIII for Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete in Athletics, Academics and Community Service
Capital One Bowl Overall MVP
Has top four passing days and top three seasons in school history
Football Foundation Burger King-Vincent dePaul Draddy Scholar-Athlete
of the Year - known as the "Academic Heisman," as the
nation's top scholar-athlete
American Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year
NASDAQ Scholar-Athlete of the Year
NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship
GTE Academic All-America (1st)
GTE Academic All-America (2nd)
GTE Academic All-District IV (1995, 1996, 1997)
Woody Hayes National Scholar-Athlete
Named to AFCA and SEC Good Works Team
Became 12th QB to pass for 10,000 yards in career against Arkansas
Completed 26-of-38 passes for 310 yards, tying a UT single-game record with five touchdowns in 52-17 win over Texas Tech
Threw for 304 yards and three TDs at Alabama, becoming the first UT quarterback to defeat the Crimson Tide three times
Hit on 25 of 35 attempts and Set school record with 523 yards passing with five TD passes leading UT to a 59-31 victory over Kentucky earning SEC Player of the Week
SEC Player of Week following 399-yard game and accounted for five TDs (four pass, one rush against Southern Miss on 35-53 passing
His 523- yard effort against the Wildcats ranks second all-time in the Southeastern Conference
Named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for October 14 after turning in a 31-for-41, 371-yard, two-TD evening at Georgia
Versus Georgia, completed 31-of-40 passes (77%) for 343 yards and four touchdowns
Completed 29-of-51 passes for
353 yards with three TDs and two interceptions against Florida
Selected Phi Beta Kappa
Started 12/12 games
member of the Academic All-SEC team, 2nd team GTE Academic All-America
Finished eighth in the 1996 Heisman balloting with 81 points
ranked 7th in the nation in total offense
Named the Citrus Bowl MVP after passing for 408 yards, the second-best day of his career, on 27-of-39 attempts with four touchdowns
UT's 1st QB to throw for over 3000 yds. in a season
American Honda Scholar-Athlete
Finished sixth in 1995 with 109 points
Selected All-SEC first team by coaches, second team by AP
Finalist for Davey O'Brien Quarterback Award and Football News Offensive Player of the Year
Finished sixth in Heisman Trophy balloting
Named to SEC Academic Honor Roll with a 3.49 GPA in Business Management
Set UT single season passing records for attempts (380), completions (244), completion percentage (64.2) and yards gained (2954)
Turned in career best effort against Arkansas, as he went 35 of 46 for 384 yards and four touchdowns to lead Tennessee to 49-31 victory
Performance earned him SEC Player of the Week and Sporting News National Player of the Week awards
Set school record with 132 straight passes without an interception, string that was snapped in Kentucky game
Also set Vol record for lowest interception percentage, 1.05 percent, with only four misfires in 380 attempts
Engineered the drive that resulted in game-winning field goal in 30-27 win over Georgia
Riddled Alabama defense for 301 yards on 20-of-29 passing
Had three touchdown passes versus Crimson Tide, including 80 yarder to Joey Kent on opening play
Matched his previous personal-best and school-record four TD passes thrown against Arkansas with four more against South Carolina
In Florida Citrus Bowl win over Ohio State, he completed 20 of 35 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown.
Led UT to 11-1 record and No, 2 national ranking
Played vital role in Tennessee offense following injuries to starter Jerry Colquitt in UCLA opener and replacement Todd Helton in fourth game, against Mississippi State
Led Vols to 7-1 record as a starter and was named Freshman of the Year in the Southeastern Conference
Hitting 12 of 19 passes for 189 yards and breaking loose for 29-yard run, he sparked team to 45-23 conquest of Virginia Tech in Gator Bowl
First touchdown pass of career was 76-yarder to Kendrick Jones against Mississippi State.
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