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Predictions for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010

Published: January 8, 2010

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame selections are performed by a panel of 44 leading NFL media members, including representatives of all 32 NFL teams, a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America, and 11 at-large writers.

The panel has selected a list of 15 finalists from the modern era , defined as playing all or part of their careers within the last 25 years. A player must have spent five years out of the league before they can be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Players that last played in the 2004 season will be eligible for induction in 2010.

During Super Bowl weekend, the panel will meet and narrow down the list of modern-era finalists down to five. Those five will be considered alongside two senior candidates, selected by a nine-member sub-panel of the larger panel last August, for a total of seven. From this list, at least four will be selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My prediction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is:

Jerry Rice
Emmitt Smith
Shannon Sharpe
John Randle
Russ Grimm

Hall of Fame Game: 49ers vs. Cowboys

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The Highs and Lows of Michigan Wolverines Football Recruiting

Published: January 7, 2010

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Don’t you just love this time of year? No, not for the national championship game tonight or the NFL playoffs. It’s the final month of recruiting for the 2010 class.

All the ranked un-committed high school football players are getting more attention than Paris Hilton at a Star Trek convention. Coaches are calling them and trying to get them to take official visits where they can serve them the local “kool-aide” and trying to get them to sign on February 3.

They put in their heads the dream of the NFL, playing as a freshman, and being a champion and holding that crystal trophy someday. It’s like Christmas in January for these kids. It’s also like a rollercoaster if you follow it closely.

Dateline Yesterday:

  • Michigan is expecting nine players to enroll early.
  • Six actually make it in, with two having to wait until this summer.
  • One is a holdover for the 2009 class that was working hard this offseason to get his grades up, but for some reason (most likely) isn’t going to qualify.
  • One player that wasn’t going to enroll early, also has grade issues and won’t be in Ann Arbor even this Fall.
  • An instate prospect on the defensive line picks Ohio State over Michigan and Florida.


MSU, Saline QB, and Army All American Joe Boisture has not made it to practice this week in San Antonio. The word “is” that he has an injury (he did suffer a serious concussion in November). A reporter from Mlive believes it’s because he threw four touchdowns with eight picks his senior year and got benched but still got an invite to a game that only takes the top high school players in the nation. (this has nothing to do with Michigan recruiting—just interesting). Joe is an MSU verbal.

A Michigan prep CB, Dior Mathis, who is at the Army All American game and has a final three of MSU, Oregon, and Michigan, is expected to announce for the Ducks or the Spartans on Saturday. But this ESPN reporter believes he will announce for Michigan.

Many recruiting insiders believe that Michigan has stopped recruiting Mathis. The reason why? Well, he is 5-foot-9 and 166 pounds. He can cover, but we all saw the issues Boubacar had early in 2009. So the ESPN insider really is out of touch or really has inside info.

Michigan prep safety prospect Earnest Thomas de-committed from UCLA today to stay closer to home. Does this have anything to do with Michigan? Don’t know yet. He is rated a three-star prospect from Rivals and the No. 47th ranked safety in the country.

Tony Grimes, a CB from Florida that is part of a package deal that RR is working on for signing day is playing in another All Star Game in late January.

The Numbers Game:

How many kids can Michigan sign in this class? I have heard numbers as high as 29 with the loss of Warren to the NFL. If you now take out the current losses of Witty and Drake, that leaves Michigan with 23 committed players for the 2010 class (with six already enrolled/locked). That leaves Michigan with two players for a full 25-player class and maybe four more to fill out the roster.

Here are the current players “in play” for the Wolverines:

  • Teammates from Florida Tony Grimes, CB and Clarence Murphy, DE
  • Teammates from Miami Torrian Wilson, OL and Todd Chandler, DT
  • California Safety Sean Parker (playing in the Army All American game this weekend)
  • Florida Safety Rashad Knight
  • Michael Taylor, LB and current Tennessee verbal
  • Jibrell Black, DE and current Cincinnati verbal

Michigan will want to fill as many spots as possible with this class and getting the above list on campus for one of the remaining weekends will help Rich Rod and staff close the 2010 class. Similar to last year, this is going to come right down to the finish line.

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NFL: Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts of 2009

Published: January 1, 2010

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Every season in the world of fantasy football, there are players who surprise everyone and come out of nowhere and sometimes can lead your team to championship glory.

But for every diamond in the rough there is inevitably a group of high profile players that fail miserably to live up to expectations. This season has been no different, as many players drafted in the first two rounds of your fantasy drafts have likely led your fantasy teams to the bottom of the standings rather than the playoffs.

Here is a list 2009’s biggest fantasy disappointments; highlighted by five running backs who likely went in the first round of your draft, a couple of quarterbacks that were supposed to take their teams deep into the playoffs, and three wide receivers who were set to be the focal point of offenses on bad teams.

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Fourth & 1 Debate: Fantasy Football Sleeper Keepers

Published: January 1, 2010

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Before we get started, check out my Week 17 NFL picks .

Hatty, of , was responsible for this week’s Fourth & 1 Roundtable debate topic.

Click here to see the full article .


This Week’s Topic :

“The regular season is almost over and dynasty leaguers are picking their keepers. Everyone knows to keep Fitzgerald, Peterson, and the like, but who are some sleeper keepers for next year?”

My Response :

The first name that comes to mind is Miles Austin .

He enters this week with 1230 receiving yards and 11 TDs. His numbers are bloated by the 421 yards and 4 TDs he had before and after the Cowboys’ bye, as he had seven games with fewer than 50 yards receiving.

Still, he’s a big, strong WR that will turn 26 this Summer. He has a good rapport with Tony Romo and should continue to develop into one of the league’s best WRs. The only issue I see is his contract, but rest assured, Jerry Jones won’t let his prized WR walk away.

Another keeper that came out of nowhere was Jamaal Charles . When you look at his production from Week 10 on you can’t help but wonder why he wasn’t given an opportunity sooner.

Charles showed he could handle the full load, averaging 21.8 carries in Weeks 13-16. He also showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield with 39 receptions entering Week 17. Finally, he showed big play ability. He truly was Chris Johnson Lite the last half of the year, and makes an intriguing keeper option heading into 2010.

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Fantasy Football Out on a Limb 2009, Volume 17

Published: December 31, 2009

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Before we get started, check out my Week 17 NFL picks .

Time for another edition of Fantasy Football Out on a Limb. I scour the rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week.

I base my decisions on matchups, how the players are trending and the ever-important hunch. To mix things up, I’ll occasionally do some two-on-one matchups, or even pit RB or WR duos against each other. Sometimes I’ll spot a player some points.


6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard.


Last Week

Alex Smith over Peyton Manning: Winner, Smith 15.2, Peyton 9.6

Beanie Wells over LaDainian Tomlinson: Loser, Beanie 15.3, LT 18.3

Ryan Grant over Steven Jackson: Incomplete, Grant 21.7, S-Jax DNP

Chad Ochocino over Brandon Marshall +2: Winner, Ocho 8.9, Marshall 6.2 (4.2 actual +2)

Jermichael Finley over Brent Celek: Loser, Finley 8.0, Celek 18.1

SS: Jason Snelling over Jamaal Charles: Loser, Snelling 7.4, Charles 12.4

Regular Picks: 2-2
Super Stretch Pick: 0-1
Overall: 2-3


Season Record

Regular Picks: 37-39-1

Super Stretch Picks:  6-12

Overall: 43-51-1


Week 17

Jay Cutler over Tony Romo

Cutler is coming off of a big game against the Vikings. He should dominate the Lions and actually make a run at evening his TD-to-INT ratio. Philadelphia will wake up the echoes of Romo’s December struggles.


Knowshon Moreno vs. Thomas Jones

I’m going with the rookie over the veteran in this Week 17 matchup. Moreno faces Kansas City’s 31st-ranked run defense (161.3 yards per game). Thomas Jones faces Cincinnati’s second-ranked run defense (87.7 ypg). The Bengals have allowed half as many rushing TDs as well.

Matt Forte over Ricky Williams

It’s been a forgettable year for Matt Forte as he saw a significant drop in his production. Ricky Williams was the exact opposite. This week though, it will look more like everybody anticipated from these two. Forte should destroy the Lions’ 24th-ranked run defense (125.7 ypg), while Williams should struggle against the Steelers’ 3rd-ranked run defense (89.3 ypg). Pittsburgh has allowed 12 fewer rushing TDs. 

Nate Washington over Chad Ochocinco

Washington takes on Seattle, who has allowed 27 passing TDs on the year. Washington is a good bet to burn the Seahawks deep. Meanwhile, Ochocinco has to lock horns with Darrelle Revis, who has been shutting WRs down all year.


Steve Breaston over Miles Austin

Breaston faces Green Bay. Despite ranking 12th with 220.7 passing yards per game, the Packers have allowed 28 passing TDs, which ranks 29th in the league in that category. The Eagles held Austin to just one catch the last time they played. I’m expecting Romo to struggle, so why not hitch my cart to that prediction.

Super Stretch

Jason Snelling over Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower (Individually)

I suspect Michael Turner will be out again this week, which means Snelling would get the bulk of the work. He takes on Tampa Bay, who ranks 30th against the run (156.5 ypg) and has allowed 16 rushing TDs. Beanie and Hightower are both capable of putting up solid games, though they will likely struggle against Green Bay’s No. 1 run defense (85.7 ypg, 5 TDs).

Originally published at .

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My Rookie Year In Fantasy Football

Published: December 30, 2009

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It was back in September when I sat down to choose my first ever fantasy team. I had read all the reports, heeded all the advice, and highlighted the players who I believed were due for a big year.

Three months on, and I look back and laugh at my views then.

Hindsight is a curious thing, particularly in the world of fantasy football.

In the Boarders Breakaway League draft, Brett Favre was taken after Trent Edwards and Shaun Hill; Ray Rice didn’t find a home until Round Eight, and Matt Forte went with the third pick overall!

How different things would be today.

My team contained Dustin Keller, Felix Jones and Devery Henderson. All three were outlined as potential sleepers. All three are still asleep.

It soon became painfully obvious that my fantasy skills needed some serious honing. In the opening week I posted a pitiful 61 points, with Reggie Wayne accounting for over a third of the total.

The season-ending injury suffered by Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez served as an omen: I was in for a long year.

My first victory came in Week Three, when my big guns finally turned up. DeSean Jackson exploded; Aaron Rodgers threw all over the Rams; and the Cowboys’ D terrorized Jake Delhomme.

I led the entire league that week with 124 points.  Perhaps I’d gotten the hang of this after all.

Over the next few weeks, my team either racked up the points or bombed without a trace.

If Lady Luck had frowned at me when I selected Gonzalez, she wore a terrifying scowl when I was pitted against a team containing Tom Brady in Week Six.

The New England Patriots’ quarterback found the end zone six times before being pulled out at the half. By that time he’d accumulated 51 points and insured my team’s efforts were in vain. I also had the misfortune of meeting Roddy White when he totaled 210 yards and two touchdowns in Week Five.

My forays into free agency reminded me of rummaging in bargain bins, as I entered with hope and vigor, only to leave with slim pickings. My team, The Jet Squad, resembled a revolving door in its first few weeks as Earl Bennett, Byron Leftwich, Rashard Mendenhall and Kerry Collins all departed after contributing very little.

I also seemed to develop a nasty habit of closing the barn door long after the horse had bolted. In this respect I never quite got the full benefits of Jeremy Maclin, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Malcom Floyd.

The trading block was a daunting place, and I instantly regretted the only trade I executed. Sick of his miserable performances, I traded my prized first round pick Michael Turner for Joseph Addai and Derrick Mason.

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have feared. Turner hit the treatment table as soon as he started to find some form, whereas Addai and Mason had a brilliant knack of scoring touchdowns.
I’d like to say this was an inspired trade, but it was more born of frustration at wasting a first round pick on “The Burner.” As the weeks wore on, I gazed enviously at Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. If only…

With more time, I became more astute and my gambles started to pay off. Ricky Williams was a revelation; LeSean McCoy was a solid back; and Visanthe Shiancoe would often be in the right place at the right time. Only three of my original team lasted the full 14 weeks, and it’s no surprise that Aaron Rodgers, DeSean Jackson and Reggie Wayne have been the focal point of my team throughout.

I finished strongly with a 7-7 record, missing out on the playoffs where my team may well have gone all the way. Like the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans, my season has been a case of too little, too late.

But, I have been firmly bitten by the fantasy bug, and the experience has not put me off, but opened a new world of opportunities. Fantasy football has given games like Oakland-Kansas City a meaning.

I don’t care who wins, but suddenly every yard Cleveland manages to squeeze out of Jerome Harrison is all-important to me.

I’ll be back again next year, determined not to make the rookie errors that blighted me this time. The task in 2010 will be how to avoid the proverbial sophomore slump.

Bring it on.

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ESPN: Thanks For a Memorable 40th Season Of Monday Night Football

Published: December 30, 2009

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To the executives of ESPN,
The hiring of Jon Gruden as a commentator for Monday Night Football? Maybe not the best of decisions.
The selection of your match-ups for the season, however? As the incredible season finale between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears demonstrated, you guys may really know what you’re doing.  
I’ll admit that, though I am more partial to college pigskin (which you guys did a pretty good job with picking Thursday games for), I nevertheless went out of my way to illegal stream the contests this year.
Of course, picking the high-profile match-ups, such as two NFC North involving Brett Favre and a showdown between the Patriots and Saints, is the easy part—I feel those were never destined to disappoint.  
But some of the less heralded games really put the year together.
The excitement started from the very beginning, with the Patriots’ ridiculous last-minute rally against the Bills, and the Oakland’s furious effort at home in a controversial loss against the Chargers.  
(I must applaud your very brave decision to take a chance on the Raiders after they suffered three routs, two of them shutouts, in their last Monday appearances.) 
Equally dramatic contests ensued between Dolphins and Jets, and the Texans and Titans; but there were enough fantastic moments and performances to satisfy just about any NFL fan.  
Electric big plays? Desean Jackson’s field day against the Redskins more than did the trick.  
Fans of exciting special teams needed to look no further than Eddie Royal and Darren Sproles show.  
Defensive enthusiasts from all over likely marveled at the 49ers seven forced turnovers in a convincing win over division Arizona.  
For good measure, there was even some vintage Peyton Manning thrown into the mix againt the Dolphins, as the Colts’ signal caller lead yet another clutch comeback.  
And for the purists out there, few things can match the New York Giants’ 16-play, 80 yard, 9:13 minute touchdown drive against the Redskins—that may go down as one of the most dominant possessions in recent NFL history.  
So thank you again for an entertaining season of Monday Night Football. You certainly made the 40th year a memorable one.

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Former Vanderbilt Stars Shine on Monday Night Football

Published: December 29, 2009

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You have to look long and hard to find Vanderbilt alums in the NFL. That is, unless you’re looking at the Chicago Bears’ roster.

The Bears currently have five players on their roster that suited up for Vanderbilt once upon a time. Unless you’re a die-hard Vandy fan, the only one you probably know is Jay Cutler. The others are Earl Bennett, Hunter Hillenmeyer, D.J. Moore, and Chris Williams.

Now, I understand that the big programs in the country like Florida put five players on every team in the NFL, but we’re talking about Vanderbilt here. It just amazing to me that one NFL team would pick out that many Commodores.

Last night, ESPN’s Monday Night Football offered another meaningless game to the standings. With that said, the Bears came out like they were playing for a playoff spot. Much of that can be contributed to Cutler, Bennett, and Hillenmeyer.

It’s been a very rough year for Cutler, but last night he reminded everyone of the kind of talent he has. He out-dueled Brett Favre’s Vikings, and Favre congratulated Cutler afterwards. Classy move for Favre to do that.

Former Vandy wide receiver Earl Bennett also had a great game. He had three catches for 35 yards, including a big touchdown reception.

And then there’s the defensive side of the ball. Hunter Hillenmeyer might be the best-kept secret at the linebacker position in all of football. He showed that last night, making 15 tackles and a forced fumble in overtime on Adrian Peterson.

Now, I understand that Hillenmeyer had part of the facemask on that tackle, but it looked like it was incidental contact. It’s part of the game, and the officials missed the call. It was still a great play to punch the ball out during that crucial point in the game.

Hillenmeyer has gotten his chance to showcase his capabilities of as a starter since Brian Urlacher went down for the season. He’s third on the team in total tackles, behind Lance Briggs and Danieal Manning. He’s also become a master at forcing fumbles, with four this season.

For a program that produces very few NFL stars, the Bears are showing other NFL scouts to start looking at Vanderbilt players a little bit harder.

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I’m the King of the Fantasy Football World

Published: December 29, 2009

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The Boltcheats tore through the 2009 regular season of the Caw Fantasy Football League with just one blemish on their record. It came on my watch, as team VOTL sent the ‘Cheats to the bowels of defeat back in week nine by a score of 93-79.

Unfortunately, VOTL went on to lose four of its last five regular season games and barely won the West division title with a record of 9-5. Burke’s Ballers, the team owned by first-year Oswego State Sports Information Director Adele Burk, finished two games behind me and out of the playoffs.

I was not looking forward to the playoffs, as team VOTL was sputtering down the stretch. And in the semifinals, it looked as though the Blumpkins (logo — NSFW) were going to put me out of my misery, taking a 19-point lead into the Monday night game between the New York Giants and Washington.

The Giants’ defense was the last “player” left that could gain points for VOTL, the Blumpkins had exhausted all of their playing time the day before. Thankfully, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew showed up in a big way and dominated the ‘Skins 45-12, recording a defensive TD in the process. VOTL was onto the title game with a 110-106 victory. My opponent would be the dreaded Boltcheats.

The ‘Cheats had a bit of an easier time in their semifinal matchup, as team Joepa managed just 80 points in an 11-point loss. The Boltcheats were now 14-1 and riding sky high. Team VOLT had still lost four of its last six and got into this game by the skin of their pearly whites. It looked to be a battle of two franchises going in opposite directions.

However, team VOTL went back to the videotape (formerly referred to as “movies” in certain SUNY Oswego athletic offices) and saw what worked in week nine. The key to victory was to keep the ball in the hands of Tom Brady.

The New England signal-caller heaved four touchdowns in a 35-7 rout of Jacksonville and racked up 34 fantasy points. That effort coupled with touchdowns from both VOTL running backs (Thomas Jones & Rashard Mendenhall) was more than enough to give me the Caw Fantasy Football Championship by a score of 107-87.

Suck it, world.

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Cleveland Browns Have Always Won By Running The Football

Published: December 28, 2009

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Who is the first name you think of when you think of all-time Cleveland Browns?

That is easy for most. The answer is Jim Brown. Brown was arguably the best running back of all time.

Do you even know who the quarterback was when Brown was there?

Apparently it was Frank Ryan and Milt Plum at different times. It really didn’t matter though, because the offensive game plan was; give the ball to Jim Brown.

In the ’80s and early ’90s, the Browns were consistently playoff contenders. They played in a memorable game that featured a series that would later be dubbed, “The Drive.”

Although the Browns lost, it was a great game in Browns’ history. The star of the game was Ernest Byner. Unfortunately for Byner, he did fumble late and let John Elway be John Elway.

That doesn’t change the fact that it was the running game that allowed the Browns to be competitive. Other runners in that era were Kevin Mack and Eric Metcalf. Both were guys that were the difference makers on that team.

Bernie Kosar was the quarterback at the time and will always be a Browns legend. However, if you are looking at all-time NFL great quarterbacks, Kosar won’t be anywhere on the list. He was one of those quarterbacks who didn’t have the best arm, but was smart and wouldn’t kill a team with interceptions.

Although Kosar wasn’t an NFL great, he was still perfect for the Browns. He was able to provide enough of a passing game to compliment a great rushing attack.

Right before the original Browns left, they brought in Vinny Testaverde to back up Kosar. Unfortunately, we all know what happened. Every time Kosar made a bad pass the fans wanted Testaverde to play. It was constant back-and-forth between the two.

One comment that stood out in this process was made by Mike Ditka in a pre-game show. He said; “why are they worrying about who is playing quarterback? Give the ball to Eric Metcalf.”

The Browns got away from what always worked for them and they started losing as a result.

Kosar was soon out. The Browns drafted Eric Zeier and the quarterback controversy between he and Testaverde was the focus for the year. The Browns never got back to doing what they always did, running the ball. Then the team moved to Baltimore shortly after.

When the Browns re-entered the league, their focus has been finding that franchise quarterback and it has failed miserably. From Tim Couch to Brady Quinn, they are still looking.

This whole year the controversy between Quinn and Anderson has really been the focus. The Browns have had two good passing games all year, against Detroit and San Diego. Those were exciting games, yet both were losses.

For most of the year the running game was put on the back burner to try and see who can be the franchise quarterback. Only in the last three games has the plan been to run the ball, regardless of who is under center. Joshua Cribbs and Jerome Harrison have been magnificent.

There hasn’t been much from the passing game, but the Browns have won three-straight.

Now there is talk about what Holmgren will do to address the quarterback situation. The problem is that the franchise has wasted the last decade finding that, instead of focusing on how you really build a winner in Cleveland.

Cleveland is off the shores of Lake Erie and lake shore winds make it cold and windy from November through January. That is why the running game has always been what works in Cleveland.

Chicago went out last year and made the blockbuster trade for Jay Cutler to get a franchise quarterback. The Bears paid a big price for him and it looks like they made a bad deal. Chicago is just like Cleveland, in fact, it is called the Windy City. That has also been a team that has won by running.

So this coming off-season, maybe the Browns should change their approach. Understand that neither of the two quarterbacks may ever be the franchise quarterback. However, also understand that that is never how the Browns have won.

Therefore keep the guy who best compliments the running game. That is the guy who will turn it over less and can run play-action and bootlegs off of the run. We all know which of the two better fits that mode.

Then the real focus needs to be on continuing to build on the running game. The first way to do that is fix the holes in the line. That means this Sunday should be John St. Clair’s last game as a Brown.

Then you turn the focus to Harrison and Cribbs and how to best compliment them. There are many Browns fans who still like James Davis and Chris Jennings, but for whatever reason this writer just isn’t feeling it with those two.

Toby Gerhart or CJ Spiller would be nice additions to the running game. Also Lendale White as a short yardage specialist can, and should be, looked into for the Browns.

That is how the Browns can build a winner. The good news is Holmgren understands things like this.


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