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Complaints begin about Browns brazenly exploiting loophole

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If the Browns showed the same kind of reckless abandon on the field that their front office displays away from it, the team might actually become a contender.

At a time when the franchise is bracing for potentially significant penalties for violating the rules regarding in-game electronic communications, the Browns have jammed their way through a loophole that allows their technically-not-hired-yet quarterbacks coach to work with one of the top quarterback prospects in the draft — at a time when none of the other teams can even talk to him.

As noted earlier by Gantt, future Browns quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell currently is working with quarterback Marcus Mariota.  Since the Browns haven’t officially hired O’Connell yet, the eventual employee can do things that he couldn’t do if he weren’t currently an employee.

“So let me get this straight,” a high-level executive with another team told PFT on Wednesday morning.  “The Browns can have their quarterbacks coach in waiting work with a player, teach him the entire offense, etc., but we can’t even talk to any potential draft pick until the Combine per league rules?  Something is wrong here.”

While the Browns have yet to publicly acknowledge that O’Connell will be getting the job, it has been widely reported that O’Connell will be getting the job.  NFL Media, partially owned by the Browns, has reported that the Browns will hire O’Connell — and the Browns have never refuted it.

Even if the league looks the other way on this one, the know-it-when-you-see-it decision of the Browns to brazenly flaunt the rules won’t do much to encourage lenience when the time comes to drop the hammer over the brazen flaunting of the rules that resulted in G.M. Ray Farmer, either acting alone or at the behest of those above him (bet the over), to send text messages to the coaching staff during games.

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90 Responses to “Complaints begin about Browns brazenly exploiting loophole”
  1. donottellmethatnameistaken says: Feb 11, 2015 9:09 AM

    This is similar to the Patriots using the eligible/ineligible receiver thing. There isn’t a rule against it right now, so if it is bad for the sport, make it a rule.

  2. LVMF says: Feb 11, 2015 9:09 AM

    Me thinks other teams would be happy if the Browns drafted this guy….

  3. floratiotime says: Feb 11, 2015 9:09 AM

    Not only are they perennial losers … but now they’re dirty too. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse.

  4. idiotmillionaire says: Feb 11, 2015 9:10 AM

    Well…can’t other teams try and hire him as well? It’s not like he wouldn’t take more money to coach for another team if you want his intell…he hasn’t inked his deal yet

  5. 700levelvet says: Feb 11, 2015 9:11 AM

    The owner is a scam artist… Really, what do you expect?

  6. hairpie2 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:13 AM

    If they retain that pick after what the Pats lost for taping 6 games in 2007, i am through with this league.

  7. najacoo22 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:16 AM

    I would probably care more about the unfair competitive advantage if the Browns weren’t a perennial dumpster fire.

  8. edwinmoses says: Feb 11, 2015 9:17 AM

    Anyone else notice the general attitude of Browns fans once they received the Bills 1st round pick and had a few other splashes that subsequently went down in flames? Acted like they were an up and coming contender. Reminded me of Seattle’s 12th Bag fans only not legit. Looking fwd to seeing the hammer go down and the factory of sadness continuing thru the ages. #Karma

  9. megatronownsyou says: Feb 11, 2015 9:17 AM

    So basically what you’re saying is that they’re not breaking any rules or doing anything wrong. Got it.

  10. Jason Saidoo says: Feb 11, 2015 9:17 AM

    How is this be any different than the Browns hiring the Ducks OC or QB coach who spent years working with him?

  11. vikings2102 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:17 AM

    Even if this was a big deal, I highly doubt O’Connell is teaching him the Browns offense. The Browns would have to give up the house (and then some) to move from 12 to 1 or 2 to draft Mariota. Plus, they just drafted “Johnny Drugs & Alcohol” I don’t see them drafting another QB this year…….2016, most likely……

  12. magnumpimustache says: Feb 11, 2015 9:17 AM

    Do the browns have any shot at getting him?

    Then don’t worry about it.

    What loop hole? He does not work for the Browns. No one knows the future.

    Just ask Seattle.

  13. cmoney20 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:18 AM

    Ahhh another day, another example of the Browns organization being classless.

  14. gambeast5533 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:19 AM

    Since the Pats aren’t doing is it really bending the rules? Let’s be honest, no one cares what other teams do. It’s only wrong for the Pats to bend the rules.

  15. amishninjas says: Feb 11, 2015 9:21 AM

    Are the Browns really stupid enough to consider taking back to back QB busts in the first round? That would be outstanding.

  16. lukedunphysscienceproject says: Feb 11, 2015 9:21 AM

    Tough luck. They thought of it and you didn’t.

    If you don’t like it, change the rule.

  17. etjla says: Feb 11, 2015 9:21 AM

    Does it matter to this team? They could give them all of the videotaping, underinflated footballs, communication devices and draft picks in the world and they will still lose.

  18. leftlaneisforpassingonly says: Feb 11, 2015 9:24 AM

    The texting issue is silly. Keep fighting technology, it’s a losing fight.

    If this guy isn’t collecting a paycheck from an NFL entity, he’s free to do whatever he wants with his time.

    What about prospects working with ex-NFL players? Doesn’t that happen all the time? The majority of ex-NFL players are generally ambassadors for their former teams.

  19. Rob Magee says: Feb 11, 2015 9:25 AM

    “So let me get this straight,” a high-level executive with another team told PFT on Wednesday morning. “The Browns can have their quarterbacks coach in waiting work with a player, teach him the entire offense, etc., but we can’t even talk to any potential draft pick until the Combine per league rules? Something is wrong here.”

    Actually, that is not right. The reality is that ANY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE can do what the Browns are doing if they fire their QB coach and talk to a guy like O’Connell about taking the job. There is no rule preventing it. The Browns are just the only ones doing it.

    The fact is that the other teams in the league can keep the Browns from getting Mariota if they want to, since they’d have to trade way up to be able to draft him.

    I think it’s all a smokescreen anyhow. The Browns aren’t going to try to trade up for that guy.

  20. 700levelvet says: Feb 11, 2015 9:26 AM

    Maybe it was a homeless guys idea.. Stranger things have happened.

  21. floratiotime says: Feb 11, 2015 9:29 AM

    “Let’s be honest, no one cares what other teams do. It’s only wrong for the Pats to bend the rules.”

    Wahhhhhhhh. Give it a break … you just won the Superbowl.

  22. factman1000 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:29 AM

    Cant an NFL team just temporarily “un-employ” someone while they do all the tampering they want to? then when they are done they can rehire that person.

  23. shadylamp says: Feb 11, 2015 9:30 AM

    Can somebody please explain to me how texting down a play call from a GM is a competitive advantage? In fact, if I’m the opposing team, I WANT their GM calling plays. That would be a competitive advantage for my team.

    So electronic device usage during a game is a rule violation. The rule was set up so phone calls are made to gamblers trying to get inside information. It has nothing to do with the ON FIELD fair game play. So please, everyone stop accusing the Browns of cheating to win. We have 12 years worth of losses (let the record be shown) to definitively prove the Browns had ZERO competitive advantage against ANYBODY.

  24. piratefreedom says: Feb 11, 2015 9:31 AM

    This is the Flying J owner.
    Count your blessings if he isn’t stealing your grandmothers retirement check … yet.

  25. bengalsbrownbagger says: Feb 11, 2015 9:33 AM

    There isn’t really any punishment you can give them worse than continuing to be the Browns..

  26. bassplucker says: Feb 11, 2015 9:34 AM

    Hmmm… the Browns are starting to look a whole lot like the Patriots. Except for the winning part.

  27. impulse22 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:34 AM

    Its funny for how much they cheat(known for dirtiest oline in the lg, in game text, now this) that they are still the embarrassment of the NFL. Its humoring really

  28. willycents says: Feb 11, 2015 9:35 AM

    Rumor has it that he is hired by the Browns.
    Most likely scenario is that he told the Browns that he is CONTRACTUALLY obligated to another job until some date in the future. Therefore, he cannot take the job until then.
    I am certain that he signed a contract worth $20 – $30M to mentor Manziel and is fulfilling his obligation delineated in that contract.
    Give the man credit for being committed to finishing his current job before taking another.

  29. blantoncollier says: Feb 11, 2015 9:37 AM

    A couple of quick thoughts..

    There isnt an offense to teach the guy, since its just being implemented by another new Off. Coordinator.

    If the Browns move up to draft another QB in the first round, they are dumber than dirt.

    Playing slick with the rules is just how Jimmy Haslam rolls. Jimmy makes me miss Art Modell.

  30. rjpats says: Feb 11, 2015 9:38 AM

    So now not breaking the rules is against the rules?

    Wake me up for the draft.

  31. stealthscorpio says: Feb 11, 2015 9:39 AM

    Haslam runs a shady business…no surprise he runs a shady football team…

  32. bigbensbathroomseed says: Feb 11, 2015 9:45 AM

    If all we get is controversy with the NFL then Goodell needs to step down. He is either incompetent or his senior leadership is incompetent.

  33. weepingjebus says: Feb 11, 2015 9:45 AM

    I think we all know the drill by now. If the Patriots do something specifically contemplated under the rules (such as having a linemen check in as eligible and lining him up on the end of the line), it’s cheating because it confuses John Harbaugh and makes him do his adorable little angry dance. But if another team flat out breaks the rules, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t very good and we feel sorry for them.

    A desire for parity and mediocrity is a sickness, both in the NFL and in the US as a whole.

  34. raiders1983 says: Feb 11, 2015 9:50 AM

    NFL fix games

  35. logicaldawg says: Feb 11, 2015 9:58 AM

    Show me the rule they’re violating.

  36. duffelbagsports says: Feb 11, 2015 9:59 AM


  37. immafubared says: Feb 11, 2015 10:03 AM

    Ok the non issue I see is, a team can only have so many not hired’s. Its not like they can go out and have a not hired yet O line coach, D Line coach, QB coach, etc.

    Second, if they are thinking of hiring a guy, until they actually do, that person can drive a snow plow truck for all it matters.

    Yes i can see the hey can you coach this kid up first and then we will officially hire you but the other thing: They don’t know if they can draft Mariotta in the first place. He may not be there?

    Way too many what if’s here that make creating a new rule kind of silly.

    I think teams once the SB is over should be able to contact all the respected draft picks and talk to them now. Why not let them do there homework in advance of the combine. You still only get so many picks, have to pick when your number comes up or move you spot so the fact your limited means you would not talk to guys you know won’t be there.

  38. iman62 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:04 AM

    I think this qualifies as news because someone in Cleveland is actually trying, good for them.

  39. wimpyburgers says: Feb 11, 2015 10:07 AM

    Appears that corporate dudes are running amok all over the NFL, not just Cleveland. “What can we get away with?” is the operative question.

    This is part of Goodell’s real legacy

  40. pioniere says: Feb 11, 2015 10:09 AM

    It’s not going to matter. They’re still going to suck.

  41. abqpacker says: Feb 11, 2015 10:09 AM

    I guessed I missed the news about the Browns having already traded up to be in a position to draft him.

  42. edavidberg says: Feb 11, 2015 10:11 AM

    What is there to complain about? There isn’t a contract yet so the guy can go to any team he wants to, and Cleveland can hire anyone they want … so how can anyone possibly be complaining about this? So many whiners in the NFL these days.

  43. tommyribs says: Feb 11, 2015 10:13 AM

    Look, sometimes you just need to take extreme measures to shut down the Factory of Sadness. Even if it is just for a day.

  44. geezohman says: Feb 11, 2015 10:14 AM

    Arnold Swartzneggar said it best in. Movie– Predator, this is getting better by the minute ! lol

  45. longtimefanhtr says: Feb 11, 2015 10:14 AM

    If you ain’t cheatin you ain’t winnin. See the Current Super Bowl champs.

  46. cmoney20 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:14 AM

    When someone starts their defense with “there are no rules against it” I stop paying attention.

  47. george1859 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:18 AM

    RUN Mariotta..
    Everything Cleveland touches turns into a loser.
    Even Hollywood knows this now with Draft Day, which tanked at the box office.
    Don’t walk Marcus, RUN..

  48. benniehifive says: Feb 11, 2015 10:22 AM

    I don’t get the problem…he’s not a coach or affiliated with an NFL team, so he can talk to whoever he wants to. if everybody is upset about this, why don’t they just hire him? and if he’s not worth hiring, then who cares who he’s working with?

  49. somethingsmellsrotten says: Feb 11, 2015 10:22 AM

    Bye bye hairpie…might want to shave that thing.

  50. ldbeachtecorion61 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:26 AM

    Fitting since Johnny Football turned into Johnny Highball..
    Face it, everybody is jealous because they didn’t think of it first!

  51. tokyofilthblaster says: Feb 11, 2015 10:29 AM

    If the Browns are cheaters, they’re not doing it right.

  52. 12fourlife says: Feb 11, 2015 10:36 AM

    They better be careful or the NCAA will take away scholarships, and ban them from post season play. Wait, what? They’re an NFL team? They couldn’t win the ACC.

  53. newjerseygiants says: Feb 11, 2015 10:41 AM

    Marcus Mariota = Johnny Manziel without a drinking problem.

  54. sec328onroute1 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:43 AM

    It doesn’t matter. Mariota could be the next great thing but he’ll fail miserable in Cleveland because, well, it’s Cleveland.

    That city somehow got Bill Belichick and LeBron James to lose there. Maybe it’s something in the water.

  55. spartan01 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:46 AM

    I think we all know the drill by now. If the Patriots do something specifically contemplated under the rules (such as having a linemen check in as eligible and lining him up on the end of the line), it’s cheating because it confuses John Harbaugh and makes him do his adorable little angry dance.
    But unless you haven’t kept up it was illegal. Not the formation itself it was the failure to have a stoppage of play or substitution of the eligible/ineligible receiver before they became eligible or ineligible again. There was a reason Bob Costas asked Harbaugh about it during the Super Bowl by calling it something like “the plays we now know to be illegal”

    But being a Raven’s fan those plays didn’t change the outcome of the game. The Raven’s sorry secondary did.

  56. wizardofgronk says: Feb 11, 2015 10:48 AM

    leftlaneisforpassingonly says:
    Feb 11, 2015 9:24 AM
    The texting issue is silly. Keep fighting technology, it’s a losing fight.

    I agree, the texting issue is silly, however, I would argue that texting is a more effective way of gaining an advantage than taping an opponents signals.

    I know by just having the nerve to say that, I have already lost most of you to blind hatred, but hear me out.

    With regard to taping a teams signals, you have to tape the signals, then you have to determine which of the 3 guys giving signals is giving the right signals, etc. If you crack the code, it may help you the next time you play (at best), as long as they dont change the signals. I think it might help you determine tendencies, but not actual play calls.

    However, regarding text messages, there is a real time in game advantage. Think about watching the game on tv. You hear calls on the field, you hear audibles. You hear the coaches talking to the players on the sideline. Lets put it into a real world scenario. I will use the Browns and Bengals for this scenario becasue they play in the same division.

    A member of the Browns staff (field crew) is down on the field near the Bengals sideline. He hears the Bengals coaches tell their defensive players that when Hoyer says “Alert King”, it is a screen pass to the slot receiver, so to combat that situation the SS is going to come down as a LB, and the FS is going to slide over into the middle of the field. The field crew guy sends a text up to the GM, who sends a text down to the coaching staff, and the Browns change the call, and catch the Bengals in the wrong defense the next time they use the call

    But it gets deeper than that. Watching on tv you get a lot of information through the microphones on the field, information that is very valuable to the team on the other sideline. Again, a guy watching on tv, texts what he is seeing/hearing to the GM who texts down to the coaches. Again, a huge advantage.

    Just saying. In the minds of many, taping signals was the end all be all of infractions. It was the only reason the pats ever won games. It was the only reason they won any Super Bowls. Pete Rose is an angel compared to the Pats for taping signals, blah blah blah. But this is worse in terms of real time impact and adjustments

  57. njbrian67 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:49 AM

    I’m shocked that Jimmy Haslam would allow unethical behavior in his organization!….wait….nevermind.

  58. harrisonhits2 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:51 AM

    If he hasn’t been hired yet they are doing nothing wrong.

    There is no guarantee the Browns will hire him or that another team won’t up the ante and snag him away from the Browns.

    And if they Browns have come up with some legal way to beat a small part of the system more power to them. The keyword being legal. Doesn’t matter if other teams don’t like it, or if the media doesn’t like it. They aren’t violating any rule.

  59. j0esixpack says: Feb 11, 2015 10:53 AM

    Imagine the outcry if this was the Patriots?


  60. ohand16 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:53 AM

    Again, what does this have to do with the Steelers pursuit of a 7th ring?

  61. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Feb 11, 2015 10:54 AM

    All Goodell has to do is edict that any consultant working with players eligible for the upcoming draft may not be hired by an NFL team during the upcoming season. Easy.

  62. chargerdillon says: Feb 11, 2015 10:55 AM

    It’s the Browns….does it even matter?

  63. thejohnsmith1122 says: Feb 11, 2015 10:57 AM

    “While the Browns have yet to publicly acknowledge that O’Connell will be getting the job, it has been widely reported that O’Connell will be getting the job. NFL Media, partially owned by the Browns, has reported that the Browns will hire O’Connell — and the Browns have never refuted it.”


    This says it all – nonstory. If the Browns get hit with anything then all future teams should be penalized too when they hire someone that works with college athlete.

    Stretching a bit, but the Colts should be penalized too because Luck attended Manning’s QB school and now he’s drafted by the Colts.

  64. seadaddy6875 says: Feb 11, 2015 11:00 AM

    The Browns have an offense?

  65. hurricanes88 says: Feb 11, 2015 11:02 AM

    Keep “flaunting” those rules, Cleveland. You need all you can get.

  66. metitometin says: Feb 11, 2015 11:13 AM

    This is bad. And people are up in arms over a few footballs that may or may not have been deflated?? What a joke.

  67. RE LEE says: Feb 11, 2015 11:17 AM

    ….” A high-level executive of another team” whining. No rule is broken. It’s legal. Somebody is just smarter than you. Too bad.

  68. kd75 says: Feb 11, 2015 11:24 AM

    He hasn’t been hired until he sign on the line that is dotted. Until then, this guy can do whatever he has to do to pay his bills.

  69. blabidibla says: Feb 11, 2015 11:25 AM

    What rule are you going to make to stop it? No one can work with a probable 1st round pick if they are a potential hire for an NFL team?

    People need to chill out.

  70. granadafan says: Feb 11, 2015 11:39 AM

    I would laugh so hard if O’Connell pulled a Shanahan and joined another team.

  71. rivhawk02 says: Feb 11, 2015 11:56 AM

    People only think its cheating if its the Pats.

    If its the Browns people think “Aww, isnt that cute, they are trying to win, but still cant”

  72. josh006 says: Feb 11, 2015 12:06 PM

    It’s called a “loophole” for a reason… If there is a weakness, you exploit it. It’s called cunning and strategy and is something that should be celebrated! …Unless you’re the Pats. They are the Evil Empire. What’s that, Tom Brady tied his shoes wrong? EXPEL HIM FROM THE LEAGUE FOREVER!!!

  73. mrlaloosh says: Feb 11, 2015 1:23 PM

    Laughable. The Browns set the standard for messing up in the draft.
    Just QB’s to start. Remember Tim Couch, Weeden, Manziel? I’m sure I’m missing some.
    Mariota would only be latest name to add to the sad history of this incompetent bunch of losers.
    Pettine will be gone by the end of next season. Book it.

  74. dbo2020 says: Feb 11, 2015 2:07 PM


  75. numberoneinthehoodg says: Feb 11, 2015 2:13 PM

    Unless he pulls an Elway or Manning for Cleveland (really) this is pretty silly. No offense Cleveland, I’ve never been there and not sure if there’s something so important that he wants to be there instead of the other top drafting spots. Now, if he was training with LeBron? Drugzeil would be pissed.

  76. denverdude7 says: Feb 11, 2015 2:24 PM

    When in Rome, do as the Romans (Patriots) do… Cheat.

    A similar situation happened just before the New England vs. Denver playoff game when Tim Tebow was the starting quarterback.

    New England re-hired Josh McDaniels in part because of his knowledge about Tim Tebow.

    Until then, no team to my knowledge ever hired an assistant coach from another team (McDaniels was with St. Louis by then) after the season and before the playoffs began.

    There was no rule against it. But then again, no other team had ever done it before.

    In reality, Denver had zero chance of beating New England on the road with Tebow as the starter. New England was clearly the better team.

    This is just one more reason so many people believe the Patriots cheat.

    Against the rules? -> No.
    Against the intent of the rules? -> Yes.

    Nice job Cleveland. Now, move to London so we won’t hear so much about you anymore and take the Patriots with you.

  77. audient says: Feb 11, 2015 2:29 PM

    What Browns’ offense? Shanahan left, and took that system with him.

    Maybe it the offense were to be the same, and maybe if the Browns had the first pick in the draft and were thus a lock to take Mariota if they wanted him, then this anonymous high-level exec might have a point. And even then, where is the rule violation?

  78. pfu2 says: Feb 11, 2015 2:35 PM

    Browns will not be drafting another QB anyhow!

  79. thesquirrelof1987 says: Feb 11, 2015 2:45 PM

    I am getting the strong feeling that Farmer is dangling the Mariota carrot in front of Chip Kelly.

    What better way is there to get Chip’s attention than by threatening to draft then “ruin” his dream quarterback?

    If Cardale Jones keeps progressing, I can easily see the Browns gunning for him in next year’s draft. I mean, Cardale Jones has the potential of being bigger than Bernie Kosar for Cleveland. Farmer and Haslam would have to be idiots to miss out on that action.

    Anyways, if that is the plan, it makes more sense for the Browns to go after Foles than Mariota. Browns could keep Hoyer, but I think Foles has the same intangibles as well as a stronger physical skillset. Foles also allows for a clean-slate between the FO and locker-room.

    I just hope to whatever that Farmer isn’t going to play Pokemon with all of the Heisman winning quarterbacks.

  80. jm91rs says: Feb 11, 2015 2:56 PM

    Let’s be honest, the Browns need all the loopholes they can get.

  81. goooooobrowns says: Feb 11, 2015 4:16 PM

    Or maybe the Browns have no intention of drafting the kid and they’re letting this guy finish his current gig.

  82. swagger52 says: Feb 11, 2015 5:56 PM

    Hey wait a second…Where did Bellichek come from?

    Hmmm…he left a little cheating stink behind.

  83. swagger52 says: Feb 11, 2015 5:57 PM

    If the Browns are interested, I would run in the other direction as fast as possible.

  84. swagger52 says: Feb 11, 2015 5:58 PM

    Do you really think that the Browns speaking to prospects in advance is really going to create an advantage?

    All it means is that their failures will take longer to develop.

  85. root4cleveland says: Feb 11, 2015 6:06 PM

    If I’m a GM from any other team in the league I’m thanking the Browns. Their future guy will work with him and make a determination about is prospects as an NFL player.

    This franchise has had 18,489 QBs on the roster in the past 16 years. So the game plan is simple:

    1) If the Browns think he’s got talent: stay away
    2) If the Brown’s determine he isn’t worth a first round pick, trade up and take him. Whatever it takes.

  86. root4cleveland says: Feb 11, 2015 6:07 PM

    In all serious, so what if they coach/talk to him? Does that move them up 13 spots necessary to take him? No.

  87. ispysomething7 says: Feb 13, 2015 6:59 AM

    Jimmy Haslam makes me miss, David Modell

  88. laffers says: Feb 15, 2015 2:42 PM

    Ray Farmer is way out of his league as a GM, so it doesn’t surprise me he didn’t know the rule.
    That said, there is no question in my mind that Farmer sent the text at the behest of the owner. By keeping his mouth shut and taking the heat alone, he gains another year as General Manager.

  89. billscastdotcom says: Feb 17, 2015 6:21 AM

    How many first round picks can one franchise burn on first round bust quarterbacks?

  90. ejvyas says: Feb 17, 2015 1:14 PM

    Best part of it is that Browns will hire their coach, take this QB and release him. Marcus Mariota will then become a superstar QB with their rivals.

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