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Friday, December 07, 2007

The passing of an era for Zach Thomas?

Amid the attention diverted this week to issues of play-calling and Cam Cameron's capabilities and the happiness of players within the locker room, we all sort of missed a significant moment for Zach Thomas.

When he was placed on injured reserve -- against his will, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus -- the Dolphins and their tackling machine linebacker changed their relationship. Thomas has been the heartbeat of the defense for a dozen years and has been an exemplary pillar in the South Florida community.

He rewarded the Dolphins for picking him in 1996 as a probable special teams player by becoming a Pro Bowler. They rewarded him with multiple multi-year contracts that made him a rich man. He's made $15 million in base salary since 2004.

And until this week there was never any talk of Zach moving on or costing too much or slowing down. Now? There's plenty of talk like that.

Remember in my last post when I complained bitterly that Cameron would not answer the question of whether he wants Thomas back in 2008 with a simple yes or no? Well, I'm told the reason the coach didn't give a black and white answer is because this issue is mired in a gray area.

Zach, you see, is scheduled to make $5.65 million in 2008. Guess what? The Dolphins are unlikely to pay that for a 35-year-old linebacker who missed most of the previous year with concussion and migraine issues -- even one named Zach Thomas. They are likely going to ask Thomas to take a pay cut or do a short extension that will mitigate the large cap charge that comes with a $5.65 million base salary.

Zach, on the other hand, has at his disposal the ability to simply decline overtures to trim his salary or extend his contract. He's all but certain to rebuff a salary cut but will be open to an extension.

And if he really wants to push this to the wall, if he really wants to see what is out there in the world of teams that actually win games, Thomas will likely be able to do that. Now, so far, Zach has said the right things about wanting to stay with the Dolphins and all that.

But he welcomed the news that owner Wayne Huizenga would listen to him if he asked to be traded. He also told brother-in-law Jason Taylor about Huizenga's overture which the owner made in London and applied to both cornerstone players.

So Zach is not thinking he absolutely, definitely will play in Miami no matter what.

Nope, the ties that bind in this case are weakening. The team is now looking out for its best interest by placing Zach on injured reserve and will do so again this offseason when it comes to his high cap charge. Thomas, a wiser businessman than most might think, is also going to be looking out for his own best interests.

And it is possible, maybe even likely, the two interests will not meet.

Discuss ...


Anonymous lmcfy : LA said...

Zach Thomas has always been a great competitor and asset to this team. That being said, his defense has always folded in the fourth quarter of games. I don't even know where to start on giving examples of that. I know he is not the only player out there, but he is the leader of that defense, or was. Zach Thomas is old folks. I really liked the guy and has been a great middle linebacker. But it is time to for a change. We will miss you Zach.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be working on some top secret stuff this week! I haven't read a story from you in days. You're right on the Z Thomas dilemma. My best advice is to let Thomas go...he won't be around by the time Miami figures out how to win. Get a young guy in there to start learning the job. Rebuild through the draft. Maybe the dolphins can get a second or third rounder for him in a trade?My message to Thomas: sign with patriots and help them win another in 2009.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Booyah said...

We miss your columns, Mando. The blog is great in its short form, but you ain't stretched out and gone for a romp on the long form in a while.

Need my fix.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool. Now we can pull the last straw and watch Zach Thomas go to the Patriots.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous CC said...

Both Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor should have been traded last year, especially with Taylor coming off of a season where he was the Defensive Player of the Year and would have been at the peak of his trade value.

"How could you say such a thing?" Look, any true Dolfan has learned to love the fervor and fortitude which Taylor and Thomas single handedly made the cornerstone of a defense that kept our franchise competitive for the better part of a decade. They bled for our team, a piece of us along with them on Sundays, and they will forever play on in our hearts. But the NFL is a business.

Make no mistake about it ladies and gentlemen; the Patriots are as successful as they are today not only due to Belicheck and Brady, but because of the suits and ties in their front office. They have perfected the draft and mastered the cap. Is it even reasonable that in a year where they might very well be the best ever they will still have a top ten draft selection come April? Heck, they would’ve had two picks in the first round for the third consecutive year if not for a fine.

Our roster has been in need of rebuilding for years and still is. We need youthful talent and the ammunition to go get said talent i.e. draft picks. But Zach Thomas sells tickets ladies and gentlemen. Jason Taylor sells ticket. Joey Porter? You got it… sells tickets. And Huizenga likes to sell tickets. He doesn’t need a title prize. He needs a total profit. He learned that with the Marlins. They won a World Series but lost a world of wealth.

The masses will label the above a rant but I ask you this: what has been the only constant since your Miami Dolphins began their descent towards becoming the laughing stock of the NFL?

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told myself last January if the Dolphins hire Cam Can't Win I would disown them. Well, I just couldn't do it. However, if they let Zach go, wherever he goes will be my new favorite team. That would be the last straw..FU Wayne, Cam, and Randy...FU!!!

8:01 AM  
Anonymous CC said...


We root for a team, not a player. Dan Marino is my favorite player of all time and I cried the day he retired (embarrassing for a grown man). But I’m still here, still rooting my 0-12 team, still wearing my jersey on and after game-days as I’ve always done.

You root for a player and that is your right. Follow him if he should go. You will not be missed.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous RC said...

Maybe Zach will get lucky like Welker, Seau, Evans and get cut or traded to the Pats. As a life-long fins fan, its sad to see the Pats as a well run organization and the Fins an embarrassment.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Scrambled Eggs said...

It's a now win situation.
Zach goes: Fins have yet anothe need to fulfill (draft/free agency).
Zach stays: Per JT, 1 hit away from srambled eggs.

On another topic: Folks, you cannot trade JT. Even if the fins get a #1 for him (doubt), there is no player coming out of college with this saavy and experience.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Zod said...


He is working on a story about the termination of a coach. Based upon at least one of his sources, he should be saying that instability kills a football team. Is that not right Armando?

9:09 AM  
Anonymous CC said...

Scrambled Eggs,

Unfortunately, JT does not garner a first round pick. Continents have watched him lose a step. When Eli Manning beats you to the corner of the end zone, your mighty has fallen. If there is a team desperate enough to offer a first round pick, you take it and thank the pigskin gods.

You are correct that JT's experience and talent are priceless. But what good is it going to do on an impending 0-16 team? Do actually think these Dolphins will be competitive next year, Zack and Jason a season further over the hill? JT could be a final piece to a playoff/super bowl puzzle for a team on the brink, a team with enough talent around him to contend. In Miami, JT's savvy, his experience, is a waste.

How do you replace Jason Taylor? Well, there is a Chris Long rated atop the finest of the upcoming draft class if you think Miami should stay put at one, which I don't. There might be a monstrous 6’7 Calais Campbell out of our own back yard if we can haggle a trade down. A 28 years young Justin Smith is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season. He’s been solid in Cincinnati and probably won’t command elite dollars. Jarred Allen is also slated to become an UFA if a splash is what Wayne is looking for, though I’m sure Carl Peterson would franchise the 25 year old before letting him walk. There are options. That is not the question.

The question is can this front office weal and deal? Can they go out and acquire the player they need for the system they want or are they going to go out and hand 20 million in guaranteed money to a 30 year old linebacker to then start him at defensive end? Can they find a partner in the draft to add the youthful talent they will need to plug the plethora of holes on this club? Can this regime, as Coach Shula use to say, “Get the job done”?

10:02 AM  
Anonymous James A said...

how likely is it that he could become a NEP next year?

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you people do more than watch football? If you have played the game competitively, you might actually know something. The Dolphins are NOT years away. They are a few players and a COACH away.

Our defense can be transformed overnight into a badass unity. Pick up Bob Sanders and Asante Samuel for our secondary. Pick up Suggs and Haynesworth for the line. If really wanting to go for it, get Lance Briggs as well. Top 5 defense overnight.

Our offense, you ask? Pick up Faneca and Starks for the line. Pick up Crayton and Dallas Clark. Trade Ronnie Brown, take McFadden. Use the picks from Ronnie to grab a top QB or DT. The Dolphins will move from outhouse to penthouse - provided you get a coach who commands respect and is not satisfied with mediocrity.

Many of you scream Cowher - he isn't the one. 13 years of "ok" is not a great resume - I am not interested in us being Pittsburgh. We want someone who demands success immediately and demands we remain successful. Someone capable of making a fighting machine and who doesn't accept losses well and gets pissed off about it.

Many of you morons blame H. Spending money on players has never been our weakness - selecting $hit players and even $hittier coaches has been.

Its coaches who buy into the fan mentality that every overhyped college player will stand the NFL on its head and give away a player who is a proven commodity.

Can we get these free agents - damn right we can and most are young AND PROVEN. Will we - not a chance; we will get the "old" guys on their way out if we keep these coaches or put all our faith that our draft picks will all be superstars.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Stugotz13 said...

Zach Thomas is a warrior and an amazing leader of our D - for over a decade.

If the Dolphins do him wrong - per reccomendation of Cam - that would be horrifically wrong.

Let's Go Dolphins - stop the hate - it only makes the season worse...

Zach should be in the HOF the minute he hangs them up...

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zach and Taylor are the last links to the Marino days, which were what made me a Fin fan in the first place. There is NOTHING, and I mean that literally, that is keeping me interested in this team. The current and recent coaching staffs leave much to be desired. The players have moved from generally classy good citizens to people like Joey Porter and Ricky Williams (sorry, Armando, I'll never be convinced that a guy who quits to go smoke dope can EVER be a good teammate). And the team has gone from one sub.500 season in over 30 years to three out of four with no hope in sight. Somebody convince me to ride this out because I'm almost gone. Call me a bad fan if you must but they are becoming the kind of team I usually root against.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous randy said...

some people are amazing. the people saying we should let Zach go are the same one who bitch and complain when a player decides to leave via free agency instead of staying with their team. This is a business. It might be best for both Zach and the team for him to move on. But, if he decides he wants to stay here...i'd be happy to have him for the rest of his career.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he will stay...but in the unlikely chance he does not he will be a Patriot..and that would suck.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck to Zach Thomas no matter where his head and heart lead him.

He is a class act in a sports world full of idiots, hoodlums, and fools (fans and bloggers not excepted).

Thanks for being a class act Zach, the honor was all ours.

Matt in NC

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Armando's source said...

Zod, the information I am sharing with Armando is that you are a retard. You should have been aborted before birth.

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Sanity Here said...

Why wouldn't the Dolphins give a concussed 35-year-old linebacker $5 million? They gave a concussed 37-year-old quarterback $4 million this year and gave up a fifth-round draft pick to boot.

If it is the wrong thing to do, the Dolphins will do it.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Zod said...

RU486, clinic, or back alley?

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of wierdos, fools, and just stupid football fans commenting in this blog.

That said, Zack Thomas and Jason Taylor can not be replaced and are worth their contracts. Extensions should be the talk. As they get older, these two can continue to provide the leadership so lacking everywhere else in the organization. You can't win with just rookies and free agent castoffs, as we are seeing now. The Dolphins need to value its few stars, and keep them.

If Wayne is not willing to pay for players like Zach, he should sell the team.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love you zach thomas you are a great warrior and an even better person off the field ill alway's remember that!

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Guiseppe from Oregon said...

Zach's been my favorite player for YEARS. He's slow(er), undersized, but has always been around the ball, making the big hit or the big play. In my mind, he's been the best middle linebacker in the last 12 years, Chicago's MLB included. The things that have hurt him have been that our DL was (rightfully?) let go because of the fact that most of those players were older and asking huge contracts. Without the DL keeping people off him, he's been forced to fight off a lot more blocks and hasn't made the plays he's made in past years.

Now, does it make sense to keep Zach now? Personally, I think his leadership and football smarts are intangibles that I hope that the fins will consider when they determine whether or not to keep him - I have always admired his drive and his willingness to play through pain (remember a couple years back when he came off the DL with a bad shoulder and had 20 tackles against San Fran? What a stud! If nothing else, I hope that the fins can talk him into a job as LB coach.

I absolutely HATE what is happening now with the team, but rebuilding is what we're doing, and that will take some time. I still think that the draft of last year and this year will give us a new nucleus of players that will carry us into the next decade...I liked Cam initially (we WERE putting up a lot of points early on in the season, before all the injuries) but now I honestly don't know if he has what it takes.

If we can:

Get a DEPENDABLE run-stopping DT through FA or the draft, acquire both a strong cover corner and a run stopping safety, continue the improvements on the OL, and either develop Beck or draft a high round QB (Matt Ryan, perhaps?) maybe we might see a definite improvement. I still don't think that our WR corps is good much as I want Ginn to succeed I don't know that I believe it will happen, and Marty Booker isn't enough of a threat to pull coverage onto himself and open the other receivers up. I think Beck, with a better running game, good blocking, and 1-2 receivers MIGHT turn out to be a good NFL quarterback.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be careful with this...I would have seconds thoughts about going in this direction with Thomas. Miami has a horrible past with "forcing" players to either retire or move on. Thomas would sign with the Patriots in a heartbeat, wouldn't you if you were in his shoes? The Fins management is running some kind of show!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all I just want to say that Zach Thomas is a great line backer, a great person, and my favorite Dolphin of all time. He overcame questions about his height and speed while becoming a pro bowler and one of the best linebackers in the NFL for the past ten years. No one in a Dolphin uniform has ever worked harder or studied more than ZACH THOMAS. I will always have my #54 jersey and I will wear it with pride for years to come. With that being said I also understand that this is a business and as much as Cameron tries to make it about "family", it is NOT. It's hard to let him go but paying almost 6 million dollars for a 35 year old LB with a history of concussions and recent injuries is not good business. I will miss him as much as I missed Danny when he left but if he doesn't agree to a cut or an extension it's time to say goodbye. We will all miss Zach tremendously and my greatest hope is that he DOES retire as a Dolphin and then becomes a LB coach for two years, and then right to head coach. His meticulous game preperation will make him a great one!

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a business, YES.
This is only a sport, YES.

But, a couple of players, such as Taylor and Thomas, have delivered everything in the field for OUR team.

Do they deserve to be treated with respect and gratitude? YES, of course, BUT what are we thinking? That they deserve to be traded, that shouldn't be treated with respect and gratitude.

This is not only a business, this is a sport, and a great team should always show respect and gratitude to those warriors that gave everything in the field for a team. This means to be congruent, to promote mutuality.

Shame on you, shame on those who think this is only a business, and players are just coins that can be exchange as if they were just objects.

Old player doesn't mean lausy records. Incongruent management, lack of gratitude and respect bound loosing records, that for certain.

I just hope that the owner of OUR team can realize that real business are based on true principles, on hard work and good ethics should be part of the culture of the Dolphins organization.


9:29 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

I wouldn't worry too much about Zack leaving Miami. I personally love the guy, he's one of my favorite players, but he is in a physical decline and has missed numerous games the last 3 seasons. With that in mind, his value for the team and on the FA market is limited.

It sounds easy to say Zack will play his own cards and force himself out of Miami, but to what end? He is 35 years old and the concussion he experienced this year must surely have been severe given the amount of time he has missed. That means he is damaged goods and will have to take a pay cut no matter where he would like to go. He probably stands to make more money by extending his contract in Miami. That is probably what will happen.

But as we have seen first hand with Trent Green, Zack is one good crack from the frying pan. So we keep Zack around, but bringing in a replacement would not only be prudent, it is almost imperative.

It's as obvious what his loss of leadership has done to the defense as the loss of Trent Green has done to the offense. Zack will be in virtually the same boat next season that Green was in this season... Sentimentality will get Zack more dollars in Miami than any value he might have on the free market. So Zack will stay unless he decides to hang it up. Miami's personnel planning should be done as if Zack was no longer with us, then he will be a commodity and not the missing necessity he is now.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is everyone friggin nuts? Zach Thomas is still the best we've got. He is still all over the field and gives it everything on every play. I can't tell you how many times Channing Crowder is out there jogging whenever he thinks he can't make a play and he is ten years younger. We need examples of how to be a pro on this team to spread to the younger guys. What are we going to get for Thomas? Everyone is always talking about building through the draft as if finding proven talent is just that easy. We have several people on the roster that we are talking about trading--people that are aging but can still be productive--more productive than risking giving them away for a 5th or 6th rounder. If we get rid of all of the professionals-- the leaders--were gonna just have a team of inexperienced punks that have no clue how to be a winner in this league. When younger players watch someone like a Zach Thomas prepare, that makes them understand that hard work is what takes you to the next level. Getting drafted isn't good enough. You have to work harder once you are in this league.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous the new scoop said...



no $hit. they're 0-12, dude. they've gotta blame someone.

2:30 AM  
Anonymous dolph fan in Illionois said...

to the guy who wants to sign all the free agents I think it was 8 you were talking about who are all premier free agents - THERE IS A SALARY CAP how are you going to pay averybody else oh about 47 other players with monopoly money!!!

11:49 AM  
Anonymous big al said...

Zack and Jason - great players who still in my opinion have a few good years left. Why not take advantage of that? These guys have been the cornerstone of the D for what, 12 years? If he plays next year for the Fins, Zack will still be around the ball every play. Makes sense, trade him to the pattsies, they are already beating all the teams with one of our best receivers. You want to see a resergence with Zack? Trade him to the pattsies, he will crush the opposition, especially the Fins. If anyone goes it needs to be Cam. It's obvious the players do not like him.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous big al said...

Oh my God, all that praise I have had for Beck...could it be I was wrong? He looks like a high school quarterback. Now what? What if Cleo gets hurt? Geez....just kidding, it doesn't matter who is the quarterback...the Fins are doomed to go 0-16, especially after the preformance today. You can look at the players and tell they are just giving up. This has to be playing mentally on them big time. As Armondo has figured out, Cam has no idea of how to run an offense - if he did, we would have maybe 5-6 wins this year - if he makes a few different calls in a few different situations in 5-6 games. He frustrates me to no end when you have the ball on the one yard line and it's first down - you can't pick up the TD with 3 downs so he calls a pitch BACK to Chatman for a 9 yard loss instead of a quarterback sneak - a play that is successful 90 out of 100 times. The list is endless and I believe the players have lost, if they ever had confidence in this guy - I hope his a$$ is gone next year and we can get someone with experience as a head coach - a winner who will hang around for 4-5 years to rebuild this once great team. Lets not forget, the Fins have the winningest (is that a word) record in professional football over the years. I am sick about this season and blame conditioning and coaching. Bye Bye Cam there maybe a OC job open in SD next year. Oh, Zack Thomas needs to finish his career with the Fins - he is one of the only true professional and classy guys on the team. We can not afford to lose him.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody appreciates all that Zach has done for the team over the past decade. However, his time in Miami has passed. Unfortunately, the same goes for Jason Taylor. JT and ZT do not deserve to be stuck in Miami while we rebuild. They deserve a legitimate shot at a championship. As such, we ought to consider trading them to a championship-caliber team that would be open to dealing a third or fourth-round pick for the two of them. Perhaps the Cowboys, beings as they have two first-round picks, would be willing to part with their third-round pick in exchange for both Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Considering their age, this would be a fair deal for both sides.

It's time to finally rebuild. All of the 0-16 coaching staff needs to be fired with the exception of Hudson Houck, who has done an admirable job with mediocre players. All of the 0-16 scouting staff needs to be fired. They have brought us dud after dud in the past decade of NFL drafts. They need to go. All of them. Last but not least, the 0-16 management staff needs to be fired. Randy Mueller and Co. have produced an unprecedented failure. As such, they do not deserve another opportunity in Miami.

A few other things that ought to be done this offseason:

We ought to do whatever it takes to land Bill Cowher or Jim Tressel as our next head coach. These guys know how to inspire their players and coaches and, most importantly, they know how to win. We need to get one of these guys, preferably potential-HOFer Bill Cowher.

Since Wayne apparently knows very little about football, we obviously need a "football CEO" to help the team's image. I propose giving Don Shula a more prominent role within the organization. He ought to be given the right to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants with whomever he chooses. Joe Robbie and Don Shula built this franchise, and it has not been the same since Shula left it. Players, coaches and management need a football figurehead like him to look up to. Don Shula still cares about this franchise, and rightfully so. Wayne, and us fans, ought to care more about Don Shula.

Obviously we need to overhaul our roster of players. I propose releasing/trading everybody on our roster who is over 30 years of age. We ought to not fall into the trap of going after free agents who are past their prime. We ought to focus the vast majority of our free agency money on top-notch players who are 25 years of age or younger. We ought to only sign veterans over 25 who are willing to play for approximately the veteran's minimum. This team needs to rebuild with youth and that calls for focusing more on the draft as opposed to free agency.

Last but not least, we need to steal top scouting/management talent from franchises that have prospered the past decade. Let's go after Scott Pioli and his staff. Let's go after scouts/management who work for successful teams like Indy, Baltimore, etc.

All in all, this season has been done. A true overhaul, a true dedication to rebuilding, is what it is going to take to get out of this hole and get back into the upper-echelon of the NFL. We can rebound and eventually become the NFL's top franchise once again. We can win the Super Bowl in a few years. All of us fans need to demand that Wayne do what must be done to get us there.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon had this to say at 11:01 AM:

"Many of you scream Cowher - he isn't the one. 13 years of "ok" is not a great resume - I am not interested in us being Pittsburgh. We want someone who demands success immediately and demands we remain successful. Someone capable of making a fighting machine and who doesn't accept losses well and gets pissed off about it."

Here's my response, courtesy of Wikipedia:

"Under Cowher, the Steelers showed an immediate improvement from the disappointing 7-9 season the year before, going 11-5 and earning home field advantage in the AFC after the Steelers had missed the playoffs six times out of the previous seven years. In 1995, at age 38, he became the youngest coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl. Cowher is only the second coach in NFL history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first six seasons as head coach, joining Pro Football Hall of Fame member Paul Brown. In Cowher’s 15 seasons, the Steelers captured eight division titles, earned ten postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles. It has become an article of faith among NFL pundits that the Steelers do not have a bad team two years in a row – they have never lost 10 or more games in consecutive years since the 1970 NFL merger. At the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the best record of any team in the National Football League since Cowher was hired as head coach.

On February 5th, 2006, Cowher's Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10, giving Cowher his first Super Bowl ring."


He's only fifty years old. Shula was older than that when we drafted Marino. Cowher has anywhere from 10-25 years left in him. He went to two Super Bowls, six AFC Championships and won eight Division Titles in fifteen years. That beats the hell out of our last fifteen years. Who knows what Cowher could for us in Miami over fifteen years.

Cowher is still relatively young and, most importantly, he's a proven winner. Cowher's the one.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"CC" asked @ 7:57 AM:

"[I] ask you this: what has been the only constant since your Miami Dolphins began their descent towards becoming the laughing stock of the NFL?"

The answer: Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Wayne Huizenga and most of our scouting staff.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine Cowher + Chan Gailey as OC + Dick LeBeau or Marvin Lewis or Jim Haslett as DC


9:54 PM  
Anonymous diaz the coach hater said...

I got a feeling that Jason Taylor could end up in Denver next year.

5:31 PM  

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