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Gillette Stadium Remains the Area 51 of the NFL

sPACE-hoodie

The formula for Coca-Cola.

The Colonel's original 11 secret herbs and spices.

That "special sauce" on your Big Mac.

Lois Lerner's lost emails.

The decision-making process of someone choosing Starbucks over Dunkin' Donuts.

The reason(s) why Tom and Gisele opted to build that 14,000-plus square-foot mansion in Brookline.

All great mysteries of our time.

None. however, compare in their depth or complexity to the great unknown that makes the football decisions at One Patriot Place in Foxborough.

It is the Area 51 of the NFL. One giant riddle, wrapped in a enigma and wearing a hoodie.

The Patriots traded Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

Surprise.

Or was it?

The word "shock" seemed to be the reaction of choice by Patriot Nation State Run Media, Twitter and from the "experts and insiders" who get paid to know these things.

As long as Bill Belichick is calling the shots and Bob Kraft is writing the checks, there is nothing that should really "shock" or "awe" anyone who watches the Patriots on a casual, or full-time, basis.

Of course, after reading Belichick's statement following the trade - no press conferences, please - you might think he had nothing to do with the move.

"He is one of the all-time great Patriots and the best guard I ever coached . . . Unfortunately, this is the time of year when difficult decisions have to be made - and this is one of the most difficult we will ever make," Belichick said.

There was a nationwide ESPN Sportsnation poll of more than 26,000 respondents that said 28 percent of fans hated the move, 35 percent liked it and 37 percent admitted they "don't understand it" but trust in Bill Belichick. The internals, as they say, held up fairly well in New England. In Massachusetts, for instance, more than 4,100 respondents were split 28-37-36 along the above lines. So, at least among Bay Staters, 73 percent either like the trade or vow undying allegiance to "In BIll We Trust."

With those numbers, why would anyone be "shocked" or "surprised?" Most Patriots fans are smart enough on their own to not to be shaken whenever the team jettisons a veteran - Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest, etc. - when his salary no longer fits into the Kraft-Belichick Algorithm. Again, we probably know more about how Google's algorithms work than what goes into the mindset of the Patriots' front office on roster-cut day.

That's not to say the Patriots or Google always make the right move. Hardly.

But no one outside Belichick's head is capable of knowing what he's going to do when it comes to personnel moves until he allows them to. Especially when it's concerning a veteran player who was set to make $6.25 million and generate a $10 million cap hit.

Then there's the Jermaine Jones factor. Yes, as the team was moving Mankins south to Tampa Bay, the other "football" team that calls Gillette Stadium home was announcing its acquisition of Jones. It came at a cost of $4.7 million.

Amazing coincidence.

Kraft's soccer team "stunned" the MLS on Monday when news broke of Jones' deal. The next day, his football team "shocked" the NFL when it dealt a highly-regarded veteran lineman set to make $6.25 million entering the twilight of his career.

Conspiracy theorists live for moments like this.

Imagine, if you will, the Red Sox dealing a high-priced, beloved veteran (say, Dustin Pedroia) on the same day Liverpool announced the acquisition of its highest-paid player ever? We'd need the 82nd Airborne and the Ferguson First Armored Division to quell the masses rioting on Yawkey Way, never mind the callers on WEEI and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

The Patriots and Kraft do pretty much the same thing and . . . nothing. The Mankins deal was such a stunner it knocked the soccer euphoria caused by Jones' signing right off the home page.

There are plenty of websites, books and videos that will attempt to tell you what goes into Coke's formula, how to make the secret sauce used at McDonald's or how you can mimic KFC's original recipe.

Nowhere will you find a final version of the Patriots' 45-man roster that you could trust.

We know inifinitely more about price of weed in the Ivy League back in 1971 that we do about what the Patriots will do the next time they make a roster move.

When it comes to unsolved mysteries, "The Bermuda Triangle" has nothing on the duo of Belichick-Kraft.

There's nowhere to go if you want to what's really happening inside the walls of Belichick's mental war room except to Bill Belichick himself.

And he's not talking, much. About the only thing we do know for certain is what Belichick will say when he takes the podium each week. Every fourth-grader in Framingham can recite his next 16 post-game press conferences by heart, win or lose.

Let's admit it. The Patriots have mastered the art of uncertainty. They know what they're doing. The rest of us are just guessing. And when there's real money on the line, no one is safe.

The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit up Bill on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
Obnoxious Boston Fan Email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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