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Recent Suspensions Show NFL's True Colors Once Again

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Recent Suspensions Show NFL's True Colors Once Again

It really shouldn’t be a surprise to see the actions of those in the NFL offices coming across as tone-deaf and myopically focused on the bottom line.

But every now and then, The Shield gives us a stark reminder that the NFL is concerned with printing money—and little else.

With the recent suspensions of Packers running back Aaron Jones, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and others, the league continued its trend in recent years of issuing inconsistent and inexplicable punishments for a variety of transgressions.

While the league’s discipline policy for banned substances has been relatively consistent, violations relating to team rules and personal conduct away from the team facility have been laughably confusing. And while it’s not always a good idea to be so cynical, it’s easy to connect the dots on these actions to see the NFL offices merely reacting to public sentiment and keeping their TV show largely intact.

One on-field example of this self-preservation has been the recent implementation of rules that are publicly touted as increasing player safety but may really only keep fans’ fantasy lineups safe, protecting only big-name offensive players. This year the NFL will try some new rules to keep defensive players from taking head-to-head contact initiated by ball-carriers, but it’s yet to be seen how the new guidelines will be enforced.

All of this to say that it’s fair to be a little cynical when the suits send down seemingly arbitrary punishments from on high.

Aaron Jones will miss the first two games of the 2018 season for violating the substance abuse policy, an infraction from last October when Jones was found to be in possession of marijuana during a traffic stop. In a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with this one, although it seems strange that testing positive for cannabis would have landed Jones a four-game suspension, whereas pleading no-contest to a formal charge is considered half as bad.

The real attention-grabber, however, is the recent three-game suspension of Jameis Winston, who allegedly groped a female Uber driver in March of 2016. The NFL’s castigation was the result of a negotiated settlement, wherein Winston is spared the public humiliation of having the details of the case released publicly, in exchange for accepting the three-game ban without appeal.

After the NFL’s verdict, the 24-year-old quarterback released self-centered “apology” that barely qualifies to be called such (Seriously, look at much he uses “I” and “me” in his statement here, about halfway down). For all the PR wizards in the NFL and on Tampa Bay’s staff, they couldn’t help him sound a little more contrite?

The answer is that it just doesn’t matter to the league suits. They’re simply happy that the gross details won’t be made public, and they can save face by suspending a high-profile player. Anything to prevent another Ray Rice fiasco.

That vey public incident, which ended the running back’s NFL career, begat a new six-game standard suspension for domestic abuse. Except that the league abandoned its own edict less than a year later when Greg Hardy, then of the Carolina Panthers, allegedly dragged his girlfriend around his apartment and threw her onto a pile of guns, for which he only served a four-game suspension.

Then there’s the case of former Giants kicker Josh Brown, who was given only a one-game suspension in August 2016 for his involvement in an alleged domestic violence incident. With Tom Brady preparing to serve a four-game suspension for possibly altering the inflation levels of footballs around the same time, many fans caused a ruckus about the league’s hypocrisy. The NFL responded by upping Brown’s suspension to six games less than a month after their original decision.

To make matters worse, the NFL never seems to explain why someone receives a certain punishment, even when it differs from a standard disciplinary precedent.

The Josh Brown reaction illustrates how little the NFL cares for victims and how much it cares about keeping viewers. The league seems to misstep often regarding matters like these, only to react when people complain.

But, hey, compared to other cable and satellite programs, the NFL’s rating haven’t been hurt a bit, so everything’s fine, right?

I’m not advocating for a boycott, especially since the previous attempts haven’t worked. And with the possibility of sports gambling becoming more widespread, the NFL isn’t going anywhere soon. Just don’t get duped by the PR machine’s attempts to show the humanity of the league—all it cares about is money.


Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

It's true. All the league cares about is $$$$.

Oh wait, they penalize defensive players 15 yards if their finger so much as taps the hard shell helmet of a QB after he's just released a pass. Personal foul. Because they care about player safety.

Yet if the QB throws a legal pass behind the LOS but outside of the pocket, then it's okay to grab, corral his protective arm, and smash him into the fake grass with all the weight of both men & full momentum of the cheap shot artist...who does it well after, and 100 knowing that the ball was long gone.

The Packers OL better dress one extra OLmen in week 2 and use him up to go after Barr's AcL, legally of course.

Rak47's picture

They're a corporate entity! Please name one billion dollar corporation in this country who's first objective is not to make money and prioritizes consumer relations and customer satisfaction over profit, lol. ...............So, why so surprised?

John Galt's picture

Name one: Sure, I will. The Catholic Church that could care less how much its employees engage in disgusting sex exploitation of minors. They shuffle their priests out of town, Pay $billions and it never stops.

Nick Perry's picture

Jesus Christ Eula.... Just looking at the last 10 comments you posted 8 of them and that's just in the last few hours. It's about 3:55 in Los Angeles which means you probably made them when you should have been sleeping. This makes believe this whole thing you want our help with is nothing but a scam!

Go to a Vikings website and post. They might help with your torn heart.

Lare's picture

Personally, I don't see anything here to suggest that the NFL is doing anything outside the boundaries of their discretion and rights as dictated in the CBA.

Are their decisions arbitrary and conflicting in some situations? Sure, but every situation is different and the fans and media never know the full results of the investigations.

Bottom line, everybody makes mistakes. When that happens, we follow the laws & rules, accept our punishment and move on.

Bert's picture

Good post Lare. Thanks.

TheVOR's picture

I hate how fans boo the commissioner of the NFL because he brings any semblence of order and discipline to the league. These players are a bunch of entitled whiners who probably couldn't function in the real world job for a week. Jone got exactly what he had coming to him. It's amazing that any NFL player gets popped with or for weed. Its totally stupid. Players that get suspended at this juncture are dumb.

I really like Aaron Jones as a running back, but this stuff is so stupid, and stupid gets you beat. A guy like this whizzes hot in week 14 prior to a playoff run, and where does that leave you?

I have no pity for these people, grow a brain already.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Aaron Jones had a DWI in 2016. He blew a .15 on the breathalyzer, went into a diversion program. The arrest remains on his record. Any misuse of substances of abuse within 2 seasons of a player's combine counts.

Now he has essentially another driving while impaired citation, caught after going 79 in a 55 M.P.H. zone.

It could have been 4 games, or more since the 2016 probably constitutes an aggravating circumstance.

Had Jones simply failed a test administered by the NFL with no prior history, we wouldn't know about it and he'd going into stage one of the program. 90 days later he'd be out.

DUI in 2016.
DUI in 2017.
Hope Jones mends his ways.

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah. He earned the suspension.

But that also doesn't change the fact that the league office and the owners in general are a tone deaf bunch of dorks who need to be tossed in the garbage.

sonomaca's picture

So, at what point do you begin to worry that the Pack really can’t rely on Jones, talented though he may be.

PatrickGB's picture

I for one thought the penalty should have been for longer. However, he fessed up when he could have lied. For that I give him some props.
Bottom line, Driving impaired kills people. NFL suspensions are superfluous to legal issues. And yes, there little consistency there as well.

WKUPackFan's picture

If Jones is given props for telling the truth then his entire story should be accepted. According to a diligent poster's five minute research, :), Jones admitted to consuming marijuana THREE HOURS before the traffic stop.

There is simply no way that anyone is impaired to drive three hours after consuming marijuana, absolutely none. The effects are totally different, and infinitely less dangerous, from being over the alcohol limit. Quite honestly, a person could consume marijuana and immediately operate a motor vehicle without any impairment.

The statutes may treat the two the same way, but the attendant effects are totally different. You can be one the road while all other drivers are consuming marijuana and not be any less safe than normal. With all other drivers blowing a .15 for alcohol? Not so safe.

sonomaca's picture

What would the suspension be if there is a third incident?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

A 3rd offense would carry a minimum of 6 games.

I tend to agree with WKU's main point: this was kind of the Walt Disney version of driving impaired (though I now gather than ole Walt wasn't the nicest person). While I don't think it is safe to drive high due to reduced reaction time, I see no reason to disbelieve Jones when he said he smoked 3 hours earlier. He might well not have been high anymore. As further not scientific evidence my experience (decades old now) is that dopers drive very slowly, whereas Jones was stopped for going 24 M.P.H. over the limit. Of course, now folks drink red bulls or the like and drink/smoke, so perhaps behaviors have changed. On another site I saw a meme of a Wake and Bake coffee mug, for example. Who knew? Still, he might still have been high, so not good.

I do disapprove of going 24 M.P.H. over the speed limit. OTOH, my dear bride, who was an annoyingly slow driver on city streets and who wouldn't have dreampt of stretching a yellow light, had issues with wide-open, multi-lane divided freeways. Jones was pulled over just before Noon on a Sunday (bye week) on Hwy 172, which I believe is a 4-lane divided freeway there. Not good, but not worthy of a $69K penalty.

Oppy's picture

As a former stoner of once-epic proportions, I say that your take on marijuana and its ability to impair driving is utter BS.

You can be high, and quite high at that, well after three hours if you're consuming edibles. For that matter, you can ingest enough psychoactive compounds from eating marijuana that you can actually hallucinate. Been there, done that.

While I won't deny that alcohol is generally a much more dangerous drug that marijuana- in general and in terms of getting behind the wheel while impaired- people are still impaired and should not drive while high. Period...despite all the stoners I've known who claimed otherwise. It's hogwash.

Fordham Ram's picture

Don't agree at all. You can't equate the two, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant it effects the muscles, kind bud does not, unless you eat it, but who eats it, I've never met anybody who has it's too expensive and its a completely different high and more debilitating. Posted this the other day that after Nevada legalized it car accident deaths actually went down 10 percent. It should have gone up, right? Maybe some of the hard core alchi's as a substitute to get off the sauce became stoner's instead, and look what happened, the roads became safer. Whoda thunk it?

I'm not advocating getting behind the wheel high but in Jones' case how did they prove he was impaired other than him being honest and saying so. If they didn't administer an on the spot sobriety check, where was the proof he was impaired like taking a breathalyzer for alcohol. If that's how it happened guilt by confession and no other evidence to substantiate the charge, his lawyer failed him big time. I'm hoping he appeals his suspension and only gets one game instead. We need Aaron Jones for that Minnisota game. They aren't push overs anymore.

Oppy's picture

Drawing a connection between a drop in automobile deaths during the same single year that decriminalization of marijuana occurred in a single state is ridiculous for so many reasons I can't even begin for lack of adequate room to type, but I believe you need to review the concept of correlation vs. causation to start with and work from there.

Second, I'm not making a case for or against Aaron Jones, simply replying directly to WKU's assertions about marijuana and its effects on driving.

Lastly, there are numerous, legitimate studies that have shown, among other things, Marijuana slows reaction time and can impair decision-making ability, coordination, cause perceptual distortion, and create difficulties in problem solving. Anyone who has spent any time smoking pot would be hard pressed to deny having seen these factors while engaging in a puff-puff-pass session.

I'm all for people having legal access to marijuana for recreational and medical use. However, enthusiasts need to stop being defensive about the nature of it and start treating it as it is. People shouldn't be smoking weed/ eating cannibutter / dabbing / buring hash and driving.

Fordham Ram's picture

I agree with what your saying. It's quite obvious you should be straight while driving. And as far as the Nevada numbers are concerned, a drop of 10 percent, ok maybe one year isn't enough time for it to be statistically significant, but give it some more time and I betcha dollars to doughnuts the death rates will go down and go down significantly, especially if the alchi's decide to switch. It's them more than anybody who are the menace.

In AJ's case specifically, I just feel that our man Aaron got railroaded. He should have known better but a good lawyer could have gotten that DUI charge reduced or thrown out entirely. There was legal wiggle room there to get him off the hook. Pleading nolo contendre just didn't cut it.He stil got hammered. The lawyer wasn't a Packer fan it seems. By the way it went it looked like the legal representation was ordinary at best. Was that dude from Minnesota or Chicago? Maybe we should defend him the next time.

WKUPackFan's picture

I believe that a philosophical question exists as to why we, the fans, should care about the NFL having a personal conduct policy.

Addressing the question personally, I watch the NFL because I love the Packers and extremely enjoy the game in general. When I am watching, the players personal conduct, and lives in general, off the field never enters my mind. Others, undoubtedly, feel differently and are concerned about off the field bad acts. However, does not having such concern constitute acting much differently than the way we almost universally live our daily lives?

When we invite plumbers and electricians into our homes we do not care about (or at least do not care enough to check into) how those individuals treat their spouses and children at home. We care about having the job done correctly at a reasonable price. We want our doctor to alleviate our ailments, we do not care if he/she may be over-billing Medicare. We patronize the mechanics and small shopkeepers that we like, we do not care if they may be underreporting their cash receipts.

Yet, some fans are concerned about players off the field transgressions, despite those activities being much more remote to fans personal lives than the examples above. In fact, the NFL perceives this concern to be pervasive enough to impose suspensions and bans for off the field conduct.

There may be no 100% right or wrong answer to the philosophical question. However, it is an interesting look into the human thought process.

Note: This question does not address the PED policy, which is a totally different discussion.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The criminal justice system seems to do a poor job of meting out consistent and appropriate penalties, so why are folks surprised when the NFL has many of the same issues? It was entirely foreseeable that fans would substitute their own judgment to criticize the NFL decisions. And of course the NFL has provided plenty of fodder.

I have suggested that the NFL should only be concerned with on the field issues and integrity of the game issues like PEDs and gambling. I also do not assume that I would like Aaron Rodgers as a person were I ever to meet him, or any other player, for that matter. I don't know these people.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I personally care little about what players do off the field, but I don't think the plumber analogy holds. Plumbers aren't public figures, adored by kids wearing their jerseys.

I also think this is like any public business. For instance, I spent years managing at casinos, and the clientele knew our staff and management very well from interacting with us on the floor. If one of our team were involved in a really bad incident (never happened, just hypothetical), and if it were to become public knowledge at all, I'm confident this would have heavily affected attendance. Word would have spread like wildfire that we were "employing a wife-beater" or something. Devastating. Management would have had to act.

So again, while I don't personally care much about what players do in their own time, I can certainly understand the importance of public discipline for these high-public-profile jobs (which are much higher profile than mere casino employees). It's just a wise market reaction. That's why most businesses have some sort of conduct policy that extends beyond work hours--for instance, I would have been fired for sure had I committed domestic violence.

Is NFL policy evenly applied? That's hard to say, since once we look at all the details and context of each offense, we'd see that virtually all these situations vary widely from one another--and even then, more info or video often comes available at a later time. While we tend to simplify with terms like "2nd offense" and "possession versus testing positive versus DWI," etc., there are often many more details at play.

WKUPackFan's picture

With all due respect, your well written reply deals mainly with the public relations aspect of the NFL's policy. We already know that a certain segment of fans support a personal conduct policy, otherwise the league would not be involved in public discipline for such matters. The question is: Why does that certain segment care so much about how these particular adults conduct their personal lives, when they obviously do not care about the picadillos of the people they do business with on a daily basis?

It is difficult to challenge your perception of the possible reaction of your casino clientele. From my experience with the fellow people at the blackjack or Texas Hold 'Em tables, they do not seem to be the type that would refuse to continue patronizing that casino over any particular employee's legal or personal issues. Those casino players are there to be entertained and hopefully win. The personal lives of the dealers, pit bosses, etc. simply seem to be irrelevant to those casino players. In addition, statistics show that some of your employees had issues. Those issues just never came to light.

I almost added a request in the postscript Note to please not raise the "What about the children?" argument. It is practically a certainty that a current 8 year old will not look back 13 years later and think to themselves "You know, Aaron Jones was arrested for DUI, but the NFL did not suspend him. Therefore it is OK for me to drive while intoxicated".

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Actually, the table players are generally a much different bent than slots players. Table players tend to be a "rougher" crowd--not criminal rough, just rough. But even they would balk at a dealer known for hitting a woman.

Slots players are often elderly or professionals looking to unwind. They are much more family-style on average, and they come to know those working slots, cage,security, and F & B. Would they go elsewhere over an employee roaming the floor with a troubling offense? Yes, a good number would.

As for "the children," it's never so much about the kids themselves as the parents. Mom and Dad spend much of their time instilling a code of values in their kids--meaning, if you do wrong, there are serious consequences. If NFL teams have light consequences and Junior sees a millionaire living it up on the field after committing crimes, that undermines the parental message--a lot.

dobber's picture

"Why does that certain segment care so much about how these particular adults conduct their personal lives, when they obviously do not care about the picadillos of the people they do business with on a daily basis?"

IMO, the answer is because the average American is a lazy consumer. If you deliver it (meaning info on personal conduct) on a plate to people, they might pay attention and they may take their money and business elsewhere. Otherwise, they don't go looking for it except in those instances where personal care is involved (babysitters, housekeepers, nurses, etc.). When celebrities and pro athletes misbehave, the media pays attention and brings that info out into the open.

porupack's picture

WKUP: I guess the difference between national-level sports athletes and your plumber/electrician is that they are in the public light, and they are paid to entertainer us. They also reflect on the organization they work for; a team. We might like to downplay the importance of their character off field, but if the league did not make an attempt to draw lines on off-field behavior, and some players would show less restraint in their actions, then the NFL would lose viewers who are no longer willing to watch a player knowing unacceptable behavior or lifestyle. It is a rational for the NFL to make an effort, and its impossible to be perfectly consistent. Its up to the courts to be consistent. Not the NFL. Let the NFL make a reasonable attempt to be consistent, and let's all stop making a big issue about it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't want to put people in prison and throw away the key as the normal thing. If and when they are released, they need to be rehabilitated to the extent possible. And one of the big things necessary for rehabilitation is getting a job. To the extent that is true, then there have to be employers willing to employ people with criminal records. As an example, I don't see how the player who is busted three times for smoking weed in the privacy of his own house is unable to perform all of his job responsibilities.

It looks like a conundrum to me.

LayingTheLawe's picture

This take is totally incorrect. We absolutely do expect that the doctor treating us is an upstanding citizen and we totally expect that we are not letting Charles Manson into our house to fix the sink. But we do not have the ability to perform a background check on everyone we meet on a daily basis so we expect their employer to be checking this for us. We expect that as a reputable firm they have checked the plumbers background and that he is safe to let in my door. If he is indeed a lunatic it's their butts on the line after all. So while I don't have you pee in a cup and give me fingertips to enter my home your employer probably had you do these things for many positions. The nfl is no different and tries to ensure that they are not employing criminals. If the results are not always clear and easy , neither is the justice system always clear and easy.

marpag1's picture


Big, bad, evil monster NFL. Rage against the machine, dude! Rage against the machine!

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I think each of these situations, when viewed in detail, would be very different from one another in terms of severity and context.

This article seems to be a lot of backseat whining, IMO.

And as for the comment that boycotts haven't affected the NFL, that's laughable. Viewership, merchandise sales, and attendance have all dropped dramatically (viewership by about 15% total) over the past 2 years--all while the other major sports are thriving and the economy is roaring. The NFL even infuriated its players by changing the anthem conduct policy, all because of the deep impact having been made by boycotters.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the boycott is irrelevant--the impact itself has been massive.

WKUPackFan's picture

Unfortunately this is an issue where your bigotry clouds your judgement. Citing statistics from Hannity, Breitbart, or InfoWars do not support your argument. Whatever the drop in viewership is, if any, is due to many factors, the least of which is fake anthem outrage.

There is no boycott, there never was. The alt-right attempt to organize a boycott around the Veterans Day weekend games never materialized. Even your fellow alt-righters on PFT claiming to be boycotting are still watching.

If there was a boycott, would that not be evidence of a group prone to "raging", as you claimed the African-American race is?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I've gotten no statistics from any of those sources, nor have I singled out black people for being prone to raging. I've never written anything remotely racist whatsoever.

WKU, try--just try--to avoid personal attacks, exaggerations, and over-insertion of politics, okay? It's gotten flat-out abusive these past few weeks. I know your leadership tells you to gang up and get in my face when I eat at restaurants or dare to see a movie, but maybe you could let me enjoy a Packer blog without constant harassment.

Finally, if you think NFL owners infuriated their labor base without being driven to do so by substantial revenue drops, you're kidding yourself.

WKUPackFan's picture

You specifically stated in a comment that the African-American race is prone to raging during a discussion regarding the anthem issue when the NFL's new policy was implemented. Is it really necessary for me to go back and find that comment?

Nice attempt at trying to cast yourself as some Sarah Sanders type "victim". The Red Hen owner was perfectly within her rights to ask Sanders to leave. Racists are not a protected class, at least not yet.

The NFL changed the anthem policy in an attempt to placate Trump and shut down his incessant tweeting on the subject. A lot of good that did, as two nights ago Trump told a Montana audience that the new policy is worse than the old one (after he had previously praised the new policy).

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

By all means, and show it in full context. Then apologize. Apologize profusely. I sure would if I were you.

I plainly showed full statistical evidence, citing a 5-year period of FBI stats from 2010-2014, showing that during that time the average black person killed 10.73 times as many white people as the other way around. The numbers were beyond dispute.

I also said this had nothing to do with black people being more violent by nature, but rather that this would happen with any group which was taught its rage was justified. I plainly stated the numbers from 60-70 years ago would likely be reversed. If you preach and preach to ANY GROUP that its rage is justified--white, black, German, Muslim, Japanese, ANY GROUP--the worst elements of that group will act out in more violent ways--precisely as the numbers show today.

I also stated in no uncertain terms that this was NOT natural, but was TRAINED, and that ALL PEOPLE ARE EXACTLY THE SAME BY NATURE. Plus, I plainly said "all people are beautiful and every child a miracle, no exceptions."

The fact that you would pull one snippet out of that context is despicable. I would never in a million years do that, especially painting a complete non-racist as a racist, like you just did. Horrible. Just horrible.

Pulling snippets completely out of context is L-Y-I-N-G. And the fact you would lie like that in order to accuse me of racism? HOW CAN YOU DO THAT AND STILL LIVE WITH YOURSELF?

Unbelievable. Please do not comment on anything I ever write again. Anyone who would resort to such slander is beneath my contempt.

WKUPackFan's picture

60-70 years ago coincides with the beginning of the civil rights movement. Yes, things certainly would be different for your ilk if the black folks had just stayed in their place.

This portion of Conor Friedersdorf's July 4 column in The Atlantic, Abraham Lincoln's Warning, perfectly describes you. Just substitute your name for Trump's:

"Trump values conformity, order, and a perversion of strength more than he values freedom or liberty; he values men more than he does women, Anglos more than Hispanics, and Christians more than Muslims, values that manifest respectively in his personal life, his ugliest rhetoric, and the policies he has pursued through executive action."

Now we can be done, because no doubt exists that your personal life manifests those same values. And because our fellow readers of this fantastic site are most likely tired of such back and forth.

Postscript: A special shout out to Point Packer, who has the courage to clearly state what you evangelicals really are.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

So you lie outright while trying to cast me as a racist...

...then get caught red-handed doing it...

...then still won't apologize...

...then quote some angry leftist ranting about Trump...

...and then insert my name for Trump AND STILL CLAIM I'M SOMEHOW A RACIST????


...and then claimed to care about our fellow readers being weary of this discussion.





Do you get it, WKU? Must I write it in crayon for you? You are STALKING a fellow Packer fan and BULLYING him for holding different political beliefs. You are making horrible claims about him when all the evidence is exactly the opposite. You get your idiotic buddies to rally together and pile on, much like your political leaders call on you to do with innocent people just trying to enjoy dinner or go to movies. You're a thug, WKU--a bullying thug with no conscience whatsoever.

And you dare accuse me of helping cause this "back and forth" defending myself????

This is crazy, WKU. Just crazy. Please LEAVE ME ALONE. Forever.

PatrickGB's picture

Employers have the right to do as they see fit and consumers have the right to respond to that entity as they see fit. I suppose that includes bitching about it as well. Fairness is secondary.

TheBigCheeze's picture


John Galt's picture

See shoes at the mall? Why? It's easier to steal them.

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