The 2009 Hall of Fame class (in no particular order) kicks off with an inspirational talent...

Let me take you back to a simpler time...

No zone blocking systems, no X's and O's

No "can Mark Sanchez make all of the throws?"No worrying about wedge blocking affecting kickoff returns

No incentive clauses, not likely to be earned

No blogging, no websites, no ESPN

No downing of punts inside the ten

No draft busts, no Kiper, no Million Dollar fines

Football was different, when I used to be nine.

I love football. I enjoy the details, the strategic intricacies and statistical analysis as much as I enjoy the brutal, emotive and spectacular competition. Back when I was nine, though, I had a much more innocent and childlike viewpoint of the game I had just discovered. The razzle-dazzle of the game had me hooked, with the futuristically-dressed players so much more glamorous than the mud-covered soccer players or sweatshirt-wearing cricket players my Father introduced to me as the epitome of competitive sport as a child. My Dad explained the rules to me, but obviously many of the finer points of NFL football escaped me. However, on this day, one player moved faster and did more exciting things than anyone else, so he instantly became my favorite...which brings us to Wesley Walker.

Football (and particularly the Jets) was a big obsession for me throughout my childhood and into adolescence and Wesley Walker remained my favorite player until his retirement after an injury-plagued 1989 season. That first game (the heroic 4 touchdown performance in a 51-45 overtime win over Miami, if you didn't click the link above) led to greater things that season, as Walker caught a career high 12 touchdown passes (also including another three against the Colts in week 11) and caught 49 passes for over 1,000 yards. The Jets went 10-6 (having been 10-1 before injuries set in), eventually being eliminated from the playoffs in the divisional round, as despite Walker catching a long touchdown pass on a flea-flicker, the Browns came back from a 20-10 deficit late in the fourth quarter and won in overtime.

The 1987 season got off to a promising start, when Walker went deep - his forte - for a 55 yard TD in an opening day win over the Bills, but the strike and injuries meant that he would only catch another 8 passes that year as the Jets went 6-9.

In 1988, he got off to a slow start, but then busted out with a three touchdown game in a blowout win over the Oilers in week three. He later added game winning scores against the Lions and Dolphins, as the Jets posted a winning record but missed out on the playoffs. He only caught 26 passes on the season, but continued to be a threat, averaging 21 yards per catch and scoring 7 touchdowns. However, by now he was a shadow of his former self, as evidenced by his dropped catch in the end-zone in a key one point loss to the Patriots in week 11. Fittingly, the game winner against Miami would be his last NFL touchdown.

After the 1989 season, where Walker started just three games and caught just 8 passes, I remember being upset when Walker, a free agent, was apparently being pursued by some other teams (including the Rams, if memory serves), but he never played for another NFL team and retired having played all 154 career games for the Jets and with 438 catches for 8,306 yards and 71 TDs and a healthy 19 yards per catch average (19th best all time - he is 6th best in terms of yards per touch).

It was only once his career had ended that I got into researching Jets history and realized that, although he was my favorite player, I had actually missed the best years of his career.

As a rookie in 1977, the speedy Walker led the NFL in average yards per reception, then in 1978, he led the NFL in receiving yards and was named as a first team all-pro. His 24.4 yards per catch average that year is still good enough for 18th best in NFL history. In 1979, he actually averaged 24.7 yards per catch, although he didn't catch enough passes to qualify for the all-time records. He missed several games in 1980, but still averaged over 20 yards per catch for the fourth straight year.

Over the next four years, the tail end of the Richard Todd era, Walker became more of a possession receiver. His reception numbers went up (including a career high 61 catches in 1983), but his average per catch droppped to the 14-16 yards per catch range. He was just as much of a red zone threat, though, catching 29 touchdown passes over that four year span, including 9 in 13 games in 1981. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, he had 620 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in just 9 games and went to the Pro Bowl for the second time. In the postseason, he had the go ahead touchdown as the Jets defeated the Bengals and a crucial score when they held off the Raiders to reach the AFC title game.

In 1985, the introduction of draft pick Al Toon to the roster and announcement of strong-armed Ken O'Brien as full-time starting quarterback enabled Walker to return to his deep threat role. He again averaged over 20 yards per catch in each of the next four seasons. The 1985 season featured some great moments, such as when with the Jets up 17-13 against the Bengals, Ken O'Brien threw an interception to Louis Breeden at the six yard line, but he reversed his field and Walker took him down for a key safety. He also had a late game-winner against the Seahawks and a franchise-record 96 yard TD against the Bills as the Jets battled to a wild card position despite having both the team with the AFC's best record and the Superbowl runners-up in their division. Walker would miss four games though and ultimately played 16 games only three times in his 13 year career.

The 1986 season was when I first discovered Wesley and the Jets and saw Walker named as a UPI all-AFC selection even though he wasn't invited to the Pro Bowl. Clearly, his achievements speak for themselves and he is a worthy inclusion in our hall of fame.

However, although he was a fantastic player, this is not the only reason for his inclusion. Walker was inspirational, for the fact that he incredibly managed to achieve such a high level of greatness despite the fact he was legally blind in one eye. He also laid it on the line for the team, as evidenced by disturbing recent reports that he is still in constant pain due to the after effects of a nerve injury to his neck. He is still involved in the community, currently working as a teacher and doing great work for charitable causes. And, over and above all of that, he's still a Jets lifer, as evidenced by him representing the team on Jets night at Shea and apparently knocking back drinks impressively with fans at Dave and Busters 2008 draft party.

To close, however, I want to end on a personal note and take you back to that simpler time. This young newly-minted Jets fan, still only ten, wrote a letter to his new favorite player in 1987. It must have been the worst fan letter ever, just saying how exciting I found American Football to be, recounting a load of his stats and telling him he was the best. I can't imagine it made for very interesting reading and I don't think I ever expected a reply beyond my wildest dreams. A month or so later, a signed photograph came through the door addressed to me. I still have it to this day. It was clear that he had also addressed the envelope himself too. He didn't have to do that, so I am honored to get the chance to pay tribute to Wesley Walker, as a way of thanking him for what was one of the biggest thrills of my childhood.

So, thanks Wesley, welcome to the hall and we wish you good health in the future. Ladies and Gentleman, Wesley Walker...

Tags: Main Page, Bent Double

Who should the Jets pick at six? 00:05:25
Ralph Vacchiano and Tony Pauline discuss who the Jets will select with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Ralph Vacchiano and Tony Pauline discuss who the Jets will select with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft. 

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The Class of 2017: Quarterbacks 00:05:06
SNY NFL Insider Ralph Vacchiano and draft analyst Tony Pauline take a close look at the quarterbacks available in the 2017 NFL Draft

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

After not doing a Mock Draft in about a decade, I've now done two versions in less than three weeks - with a third (and final) version still to come. So with eight days to go until the draft, here's my SNY Mock Draft, version 2.0. The information comes from NFL sources, draft experts, and in some cases my own mind:

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

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Daily News Live: New York Jets 00:03:45
Daily News Live considers all of the Jets' options regarding the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft.

Daily News Live considers all of the Jets' options regarding the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft.


New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on looks on against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on looks on against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills)

The less the rest of the nation has to see the Jets, the better.

That seemed to be the thinking of the NFL and its partner networks as they made up the 2017 schedule. The Jets, coming off a 5-11 season and heading for a year that doesn't appear to be promising, are scheduled to play only one game in prime time on national TV - a league-mandated Thursday night game that every team must have.

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 (Kelley L Cox)
(Kelley L Cox)

The Jets will open the 2017 season in Buffalo against the Bills and close it in New England against the Patriots.

The Jets will also face the Raiders in Oakland in Week 2 and host the L.A. Chargers in Week 16...

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Njoku discusses the NFL draft 00:05:15
Miami tight end David Njoku discusses his senior season and how he is handling the pressure that comes with being a top draft pick.

 (Brian Spurlock)
(Brian Spurlock)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Here is the most up-to-date information on what the Jets have done during free agency, including contract details and salary cap information. The signing period will continue through the NFL draft and right up until the start of training camp in July, so bookmark this page and keep checking back for frequent updates.

JETS SALARY CAP SPACE

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Marshon Lattimore highlights 00:00:35
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore.

The Jets will meet with Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore on Tuesday, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Gareon Conley, another CB from Ohio State, will visit the Jets on Tuesday as well.

Lattimore, 20, became a starter for the Buckeyes this past season, and was given First Team All-Big Ten honors.

The 6'0", 194-pounder redshirted during his first season at Ohio State in 2014 and was limited to just seven games in 2015 due to hamstring issues.

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Motivated Muhammad Wilkerson 00:02:29
The DNL crew discusses Muhammad Wilkerson's arrival at the Jets' Florham Park facility after coming off a disappointing 2016 season.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

For the first time in three years, Muhammad Wilkerson showed up for the start of the New York Jets' offseason training program.

The big defensive lineman was pictured at the Jets facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, on Monday morning, as the team officially kicked off its voluntary workouts. Last year, Wilkerson declined to participate because he wasn't happy with being tagged as the Jets "franchise player." He skipped them in 2015 as he hoped to pressure the Jets to give him a new deal.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bryce Petty, Buster Skrine, Christian Hackenberg, David Harris, Eric Decker, Leonard Williams, Matt Forte, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Ralph Vacchiano
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Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

In addition to meeting with Miami tight end David Njoku on Monday, the New York Jets also met with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and NC State safety Josh Jones, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

The Jets, who own the No. 6 pick in next week's NFL Draft, have given no indication as to which player they might pick, as a sample of 30-plus mock drafts has New York picking between eight players, ranging from quarterbacks to cornerbacks.

Foster, who recorded five sacks and 115 total tackles in his senior season with Alabama in 2016, is a 6-foot, 229-pound linebacker who did not participate in the NFL combine.

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 (Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)
(Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)

CB Marcus Williams has signed his free agent tender with the Jets, the team announced Monday.

Williams, who has spent the last three seasons with the Jets, has eight interceptions over the last two seasons. 

Tags: Marcus Williams
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QB Mitch Trubisky highlights 00:01:06
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays of former UNC quarterback and NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The only consensus among the mock drafters on whom the Jets will take at No. 6 is that there is no consensus -- and that's unusual for such a high pick this late in the process.

But with only 10 days to go until the first round of the NFL draft begins, the picks in 32 mock drafts examined by SNY are split fairly evenly among eight players. The belief seems to be that the Jets will use the pick to fix their secondary (50 percent of the mock drafts have them going corner or safety), though some still believe they'll take a quarterback (32 percent).

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Tight end David Njoku highlights 00:01:34
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku.

The New York Jets will meet with Miami tight end David Njoku on Monday after his previously scheduled meeting with thwe Giants was canceled, according to ESPN's Jordan Raanan.

After having a formal interview with the Giants at February's NFL Combine, Njoku was scheduled to meet with the Giants for a second time on Monday, according to The Record's Art Stapleton. Instead, the New Jersey native will meet with the Jets. 

The 20-year-old Njoku, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, had 43 catches and eight touchdowns for the Hurricanes last season.

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California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets will meet with former California Golden Bears quarterback Davis Webb this week, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Webb, 22, threw for 4,295 yards, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his senior season with Cal. In his four-year college career, which includes three seasons at Texas Tech, he threw for 9,852 yards, 83 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

Webb, a 6-foot-5, 229-pound quarterback, has drawn comparisons to Brock Osweiler, according to his NFL.com draft profile page.

"He obviously is going to need coaching after being in those offenses at Texas Tech and Cal," one AFC scout told NFL.com. "I think he has enough between the ears to unlearn some of his bad habits and start to get things right. I see another Nick Foles if you give him time to develop."

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Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley intercepts the ball intended for Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)
Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley intercepts the ball intended for Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams during the first quarter in the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets will meet with former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley this week, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.

Conley, whom Scouts Inc. rates as the No. 21 prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft, totaled four interceptions and eight passes defensed in 13 games with the Buckeyes last season.

A 6-foot, 195-pound junior, Conley ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, had a 37-inch vertical leap and recorded a 6.68-second three-cone drill time at the NFL combine.

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 (Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)
(Scott Galvin/USA Today Sports Images)

The Jets have terminated the contract of LB Julian Stanford.

In 2016, Stanford notched 15 solo tackles and assisted with 7 more across 9 games. He did not record a sack or interception. His lone season with the Jets, which began on the practice squad, ended when an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve.

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 (Scott Galvin)
(Scott Galvin)

Jets CB Nick Marshall has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substances policy, the league announced Friday.

Marshall is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

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Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett are joined by Jets and NFL Draft writer Jeff Lloyd as Draft Season is in full swing, and this week they take a close look at the offensive options in the draft, even if they don't love what they see.

Click below to listen!

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QB Mitch Trubisky highlights 00:01:06
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays of former UNC quarterback and NFL Draft prospect Mitch Trubisky.

The Jets are bringing in North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky for a visit today, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.

Trubisky is widely regarded as the top quarterback prospect in this year's NFL Draft.

The Jets have made their interest in Trubisky known over the last month. New York sent a large contingent of scouts for the quarterback's pro day, and followed it up with a private workout in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
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Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Center Wesley Johnson has signed his restricted free agent tender for $2.75 million to return to the Jets, according to multiple reports

Johnson started the final four games with the Jets last year when Nick Mangold was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. 

During his three seasons with the Jets, Johnson has started in nine games, with eight of those coming in 2016. 

 

Tags: Wesley Johnson

QB Pat Mahomes highlights 00:01:22
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes II.

Latest Update (April 12)

10:00AM: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes is visiting with the Jets today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Mahomes would have hired Jeremy Bates to be his private QB coach this offseason, but was unable to once the Jets hired Bates as the team's QB coach, Schefter added. The two have mutual respect for each other.

With the draft 15 days away, the Jets are reportedly looking hard at the quarterbacks available.

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Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)
Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight (Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets held a workout with former Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports.

Knight, 23, threw for 2,432 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 11 games with the Aggies last year.

In three prior seasons with the Oklahoma Sooners, Knight threw for 3,424 yards, 25 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

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New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles leaves the field following a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles leaves the field following a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

The New York Jets will play three preseason games at MetLife Stadium this year.

New York will open its preseason slate at home against the Tennessee Titans between Aug. 10 and Aug. 14, then face the Detroit Lions on the road in Week 2, played between Aug. 17 and Aug. 21.

The Jets will be the road team when they face the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 3, played between Aug. 24 and Aug. 28, then end their preseason schedule at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 31.

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GEICO SportsNite: Willie Colon 00:01:32
Willie Colon calls it quits for his career in the NFL and hosted a retirement party Friday attended by friends and teammates.

 (Seth Wenig/AP)
(Seth Wenig/AP)

The Jets added free agent cornerback John Ojo on Friday. The 6'3, 205 lb former Edmonton Eskimo has spent the past three years in the Canadian Football League.

His CFL run was highlighted by a 41 tackle, five interception season in 2015. 

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Corey Griffin and Brian Bassett deliver a new podcast, as they dive into the potential trade market for Sheldon Richardson (if there is one), and start prospecting for new Jets recruits as the NFL Draft approaches.

Click below to listen!

 

Tags: Sheldon Richardson
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Malik Hooker highlights 00:00:35
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former Ohio State safety and NFL Draft prospect Malik Hooker.

Ohio State S Malik Hooker and Missouri DE Charles Harris are among the defensive Draft prospects the Jets will visit with on Thursday and Friday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

The Jets have the sixth overall selection in the Draft, which takes place April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

Hooker was a First Team All-Big Ten selection this past season.

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 (Ron Chenoy)
(Ron Chenoy)

The Jets have signed TE Brian Parker, the team announced Thursday.

Parker, who played in nine games for the Chiefs in 2015 (making one reception), initially signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

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RB Leonard Fournette highlights 00:02:11
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former LSU running back and NFL Draft prospect Leonard Fournette.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

I don't remember doing a mock draft any time in the last 20 or so years (though I did find internet evidence of one in 2010). I'm still interpreting my record in all the other years to be perfect -- no misses. But, as they say, "No guts, no glory". It's time to put that streak on the line with my first Mock Draft for SNY. It won't be my last, either. I'll be revising this up until Draft Week. So keep checking back. This is simply version 1.0:

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Yeah, they need a quarterback, but he's the best player in the draft and they have a decent young QB on the roster. Plus they have the No. 12 pick (so stay tuned).

2. San Francisco 49ers - Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford
They need a quarterback too, but they have a new coach and GM on long-term deals. They can wait until there's a better QB crop.

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Should Jets trade for Sherman? 00:01:57
Dan Graca and Jon Hein discuss if the Jets should make a trade for Richard Sherman.

Dan Graca and Jon Hein discuss if the Jets should make a trade for Seahawks CB Richard Sherman.

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RB Leonard Fournette highlights 00:02:11
SNY.tv takes a look at the best plays from former LSU running back and NFL Draft prospect Leonard Fournette.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When Leonard Fournette, the star running back at LSU and a possible target for the Jets with the sixth pick of the draft, weighed a surprising 240 at the NFL scouting combine in early March, he blamed it on drinking way too much water.

Apparently, all that water weight is now gone.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Calvin Pryor, Marcus Gilchrist, Matt Forte, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Former Jets center Nick Mangold is making his first known free-agent visit to meet with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, according to a report.

The 33-year-old, who was released by the Jets in February, was expected to arrive in Baltimore late Tuesday night, according to ESPN. The Ravens traded their starting center, Jeremy Zuttah, to the San Francisco 49ers last month but did not bring in a replacement.

They do have two in-house candidates - John Urschel and Ryan Jensen, both of whom are 25. If healthy, the 33-year-old Mangold could conceivably compete for that job, or at least provide a veteran mentor to help the young centers.

Tags: Nick Mangold, Ralph Vacchiano
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