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Tom Brady appreciated Kevin Faulk’s statement at the draft

Tom Brady AP

Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk made a statement at the NFL draft when he wore a Tom Brady jersey while announcing the Patriots’ third-round pick. Faulk did it to show that the whole Patriots organization is behind Brady, who is facing a four-game Deflategate suspension.

Brady saw that statement, and he liked it.

Faulk told Toucher & Rich that Brady called him to say how much he appreciated the show of respect from a former teammate.

Thank you for just showing the respect that we had for each other,” Faulk said Brady told him.

Faulk said he was a little nervous about the reception he might get, but the feedback has been positive.

“[I] went to the green room right before they take you to the stage,” he related. “And the girl who took me to the green room, she was a New England Patriots fan. And she was like, ‘I love it!’ So that just gave me that much more . . . confidence. It was like, ‘Let’s go do this!'”

Roger Goodell probably didn’t care for Faulk’s statement, but it was well received in New England, from the fans to Bill Belichick to Robert Kraft, and to Brady himself.

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New replay rule has a significant potential loophole

Upon Further Review Football AP

As mentioned on Tuesday (but thereafter forgotten by me), the NFL’s new replay rule has one specific facet that merits closer attention. The twist in question resulted either from shoddy rule-drafting — or from a subtle but nevertheless deliberate effort to make a potentially dramatic change to the rules.

Here’s the key portion of the provision, which expands last year’s practice for the postseason to all games: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

As written, it’s not entirely clear whether “appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock” represent the only circumstances in which consultation is permitted. While that’s likely the intent, the rule as written arguably allows consultation with on-field officials “to provide information on the correct application of playing rules” generally, with the list following the term “including” being only examples of what is permitted.

On one hand, if the new procedure were intended to have broader relevance, the word “including” would have been followed by “but not limited to.” On the other hand, if the rule were intended to be restricted solely to the “appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock,” it should have been written more clearly.

For example: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information regarding the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

Or: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules relating to the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

Or: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, status of the game clock, and nothing more.”

So either someone did a subpar job of writing this fairly important sentence or someone knew exactly what he or she was doing, with the goal of allowing the league office to provide real-time assistance to on-field officials on any and all matters relating to “the correct application of playing rules.”

On one hand, I was reluctant to point this out, because I fully support the unlimited use of the communication system between the league office and the officiating crew in each and every stadium, in an effort to get every call right. On the other hand, if that power is going to be woven into the rules, it needs to be done in a way that is clear to everyone — including the 32 folks who voted on the new rule.

Again, there’s a chance the someone simply didn’t write the rule as well as it could have been written. Either way, it’s a situation the cries out for clarification at some point before the 2016 football season commences.

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Frank Reich: “Furthest thing from the truth” to say no QB competition

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Sam Bradford #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks to pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first half of the game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Before the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, they talked about Sam Bradford being their No. 1 quarterback for the 2016 season and they didn’t change their tune after picking Wentz with the second overall pick or when Bradford was away from the team after asking for a trade earlier this month.

Head coach Doug Pederson went as far as saying that he doesn’t want Bradford looking over his shoulder at Wentz or Chase Daniel because Bradford is “my guy.” Pederson’s assistants don’t seem to have the same view of things.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday that the Eagles shouldn’t pre-determine how the depth chart at quarterback will shake out and offensive coordinator Frank Reich shared similar thoughts during a Wednesday morning appearance on WIP.

“No, [calling Bradford the clear No. 1 is] probably not the right impression,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t [have] order it’s chaos. So, if you’re the head coach you gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but the other thing that — as coaches — that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. This is one of the most competitive industries in the world and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.”

The Eagles aren’t paying Bradford $18 million because they want him to sit on the bench, but it would be foolish to let that sway their decision if it is clear that one of the other quarterbacks is better suited to the starting job. Whether Daniel and/or Wentz get enough opportunities in the next few months to prove they are right for the job remains to be seen, however, and Pederson’s consistent line about Bradford likely signals the direction that the competition will take.

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Tyler Eifert could miss the start of the regular season

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 13:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball after catching a pass during the first quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert is probably wishing he had never been a Pro Bowler right now.

Eifert suffered an ankle injury in the Pro Bowl that was slow to heal and will now require surgery, which he is scheduled to undergo today. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Eifert could miss the first couple of games of the regular season.

That’s a big blow to the Bengals, and it may be a big blow to the Pro Bowl. Players are already increasingly declining invitations to play in the game. In seven months, you can bet that many NFL players will be thinking about Eifert when they consider whether it’s really worth it to accept the “honor” of playing in a meaningless exhibition game.

Eifert has already missed 19 games in his three-year career. Last year Eifert played in 13 games and caught 52 passes for 615 yards, with 13 touchdowns.

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Mark Davis on opposition to Las Vegas: “I haven’t heard no”

Mark Davis AP

While the topic of a possible Raiders move to Las Vegas was dubbed “very premature” by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at yesterday’s owners meetings in Charlotte, it’s also becoming clear that there’s an evolving sense of the city, and that the specter of gambling isn’t as intimidating as it used to be.

In fact, it was hard to find an owner willing to say it was a deal-breaker at all.

“I haven’t heard no,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said when asked about the sense he was getting from fellow owners.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns. The Raiders obviously reside in one of the two worst stadiums in the NFL, but that particular dump sits in one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing markets. With the 49ers pushing south to Santa Clara, the entire North Bay region along with Oakland’s East Bay sits like an attractive destination full of available money if the NFL can get someone to share enough of it to build a stadium.

Trading that for a market which would be the fifth-smallest in the league — ahead of Green Bay, Buffalo, New Orleans and Jacksonville — is the bigger hang-up at this point, as there’s a sense the obvious tourist economy advantages might not overshadow the lack of year-round residents willing to pay.

“We’re not looking to make this something where the fans fly in on weekends for games,” Davis said. “For the first year, it would probably be like that, but we want to have a local fan base. That’s important to us.”

And finding out whether that will work is something Davis said the Raiders were studying now, while owners wonder whether it’s worth to leave a larger market for a much smaller one.

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Broncos playing it safe with Ware’s back issues

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 04:  Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Denver Broncos rushes the line of scrimmage against the Minnesota Vikings at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 4, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Vikings 23-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is sitting out the start of the Broncos organized team activity (OTA) practices with a back issue, and given his history that’s probably both a smart move and something worth keeping an eye on.

Back issues sidelined Ware twice last season, and he missed a total of five games. The Broncos figure to be counting on their loaded defense as much as they ever have at the start of the 2016 season given their quarterback situation, so having Ware healthy and available will be a priority.

“I would tell you it’s probably more preventative than anything,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak told reporters Tuesday. “He’s going to be a day-to-day participant. I’m going to have about 10 guys that are going to go every other day. We’ll probably make decisions on DeMarcus day to day based on how he is feeling.”

Ware had 7.5 sacks last season, 4.5 in the first four games before the back flared up. He’ll be 34 this summer, so the idea of limited practices and selected days off may extend into training camp as well.

Ware took a pay cut to stay with the Broncos but is still seen as an important part of what could be the league’s best defense. He recovered well enough last year to have two sacks in the Super Bowl.

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Owners think NFL’s concussion message needs to be delivered better

New York Jets Introduce General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles Getty Images

The NFL obviously has a concussion problem.

But as the league’s owners meetings ended today in Charlotte, the guys who write the checks also made it clear they think their public relations problem is significant as well.

The common theme from owners discussing recent criticisms from Congress and elsewhere about the league’s funding of CTE studies or other safety issues was not that the NFL has a bad message, but that they’re not delivering their message well enough.

“You have to explain to mothers and people who watch football, they want to know that we’re doing our job and that we take this seriously,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said.

When asked if the league had convinced them of that, Johnson replied: “No we probably have done not a very good job. I think we can do better.”

Asked whether he thought people trust the league, Johnson shrugged and said: “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Owners voiced support for commissioner Roger Goodell, whose job is to be the face of such issues and take such heat. At the same time, they know there are certain segments of the population who simply don’t or won’t trust him. But they’ll also circle the wagons, as 49ers owner Jed York noted of yesterday’s news: “I don’t think it’s Congress, it’s one Congressional staffer. You have to put that into perspective.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones insisted that his own background as a player made him want to shout the league’s message from the hilltops, but admitted he wasn’t always the best to do so.

 “I think where we are remiss, is making our case for what we are doing and our sensitivity regarding concussions and what we are doing,” Jones said. “We need to say that more often, and we need to say it louder, and we need to not hurt it with being the wrong messenger. It doesn’t need to be self-serving, when at the end of the day it really is to make the game safer, make kids safer who play the game and benefit from playing the game.

“I think we need to say it better, we need to articulate it better and say it more often.”

Their critics will suggest that the problem has grown beyond one of perception, and remains one of its real medical issues. But with the league making major changes at the PR level in recent months, it’s clear that they plan to attack the problem by talking about it themselves, and trying to frame the argument as they see it.

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Gary Kubiak is “really excited” about Trevor Siemian

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 03:  Quarterback Trevor Siemian #3 of the Denver Broncos looks for a receiver against the Arizona Cardinals during preseason action at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 3, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 22-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

With all the chatter regarding Denver quarterbacks focusing on the guys who left (Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler), the broken-glass emergency addition (Mark Sanchez), the flirtation gone nowhere (Colin Kaepernick), and the first-round rookie (Paxton Lynch), no one is talking about the guy who, in theory, could end up winning the job.

He’s Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round pick in 2015 from Northwestern who has a season in the system and a year of learning from Manning and Osweiler.

“Not many guys are asking about him, but I’m really excited about Trevor,” coach Gary Kubiak told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s got a chance to be a really good player. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He basically took the first group today. With what you guys got to see, he’s practiced very well. I think Trevor has a lot of confidence in himself right now.”

If Siemian has plenty of confidence, he’s keeping his cards close to the vest.

“I tried to learn a lot last year,” Siemian told reporters. “I wasn’t playing a ton but I had 18 in the room and I had Brock, so I was learning from those guys. . . . I’m ready to get back to it and knock a little rust off but I feel good.”

It could be a good thing for Siemian to fly under the radar. There’s a chance he won’t be for long.

There’s a chance he’ll be the starter when the Panthers come to town to start the season.

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Roger Goodell makes NFL’s strongest statement yet on NC’s HB2

DURHAM, NC - MAY 10:  A unisex sign and the "We Are Not This" slogan are outside a bathroom at Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NBA has been quite forward with their criticism of North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law, going so far as to threaten pulling the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.

But the NFL has been more careful in its public relations efforts, though commissioner Roger Goodell offered the league’s firmest stance yet as he closed today’s owner’s meeting.

“Anything that discriminates, we oppose,” Goodell said when asked about North Carolina’s House Bill 2. “We will continue to fight that. We have a franchise here. The Carolina Panthers play here, they operate here, and we want to work with the community. We’re not going to threaten a community.

“We’re going to work with the community to make the effective changes necessary long term.”

So far, the league hasn’t done all that much, beyond the normal proclamations of inclusiveness.

Earlier Tuesday, 49ers owner Jed York made a $75,000 donation to Equality NC, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group. He also called for North Carolina to repeal House Bill 2, the controversial measure that requires people to go to the bathroom of their birth gender rather than as they identify.

While Panthers owner Jerry Richardson didn’t talk to reporters at these meetings, team spokesman Steven Drummond said the team’s position was clear: “Our organization is against discrimination and has a long history of treating all of our patrons at Bank of America Stadium with dignity and respect. The Panthers have and will continue to engage key stakeholders on this important issue.”

Other owners, however, are more careful. Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s city just won a Super Bowl bid, in part because Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a “religious liberty” bill, which opponents claimed was discriminatory. But when asked Tuesday if the league was comfortable doing business in North Carolina because of their law, Blank replied: “You’d have to ask the commissioner that.”

Goodell said he talked to Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts Monday, saying he supports her efforts as the league tries to walk a political line which some find more fine than others.

But Tuesday’s statement was as much as they’ve said so far.

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Goodell: Standard practice to have dialogue back and forth with NIH

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gestures during a press conference at the NFL owners meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez) AP

Monday’s release of a Congressional report critical of the NFL for allegedly trying to influence the direction of a National Institutes of Health study about detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living brains has led to a variety of responses from the league and its medical advisors.

Commissioner Roger Goodell echoed many of those previous responses during a Tuesday press conference when he was asked about the report.

“I take a much different position to that on several fronts,” Goodell said. “One is our commitment to medical research is well documented. We made a commitment to the NIH. It is normal practice to have discussions back and forth with the NIH. We have several members that are advisors on our committees — Betsy Nagel, Rich Ellenbogen —who have had experience with NIH or worked with NIH. It is very important to continue to have that kind of dialogue through appropriate channels, which our advisors have. That’s a standard practice. We have our commitment of $30 million to the NIH. We’re not pulling that back one bit. We continue to focus on things our advisors believe are important to study. Ultimately it is the NIH’s decision.”

Goodell went on to say that he did not think it was “appropriate” for the report to be released without speaking to those aforementioned medical advisors and took issue with the report referencing Ellenbogen and others as reaching out on behalf of the NFL.

In a follow-up question about NFL players not trusting the league on concussion issues, Goodell said that it was something the league has to do better at and pledged to “continue to find ways to make our game safer.” He also said that the league has to “make sure people understand the facts” about the effects of head trauma, something that’s been difficult given how often the league and outside groups find themselves on opposite sides of the issues raised by research.

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Mark Davis says Las Vegas will “unite the Raider nation”

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28:  Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis attends a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV on April 28, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Davis told the committee he is willing to spend USD 500 million as part of a deal to move the team to Las Vegas if a proposed USD 1.3 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium is built by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. and real estate agency Majestic Realty, possibly on a vacant 42-acre lot a few blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip recently purchased by UNLV.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Commissioner Roger Goodell said little on Tuesday about a potential move of the Raiders to Las Vegas. Raiders owner Mark Davis said plenty.

“I’m excited about it,” Davis said in comments televised on NFL Network. “It’s a new market. It’s got the potential to be a really exciting market. . . . The Raider fan in Northern California get upset a little bit when we talk about going to Los Angeles, and the L.A. fans get a little ticked off at the fans in Northern California, so it seems like Las Vegas is a neutral site that everybody’s kind of bought into. It will unite the Raider nation more than divide it.”

Asked if this means he’s given up on staying Oakland, Davis said, “No.”

And then he said this: “I’ve given my commitment to Las Vegas, and if they can come through with what they’re talked about doing, then we’ll go to Las Vegas.”

So, yeah, it looks like Davis is ready to leave. And it looks like the only way he’ll stay is if Oakland wakes up and puts together a plan sufficiently viable to get at least nine owners to vote against approving a move to Las Vegas.

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New Los Angeles stadium gets Super Bowl LV in 2021

This undated rendering provided by HKS Sports & Entertainment shows a proposed NFL football stadium in Ingewood, Calif. During an NFL owners meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Houston the owners voted to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to a new stadium just outside Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers will have an option to share the facility. The stadium would be at the site of the former Hollywood Park horse-racing track. (HKS Sports & Entertainment via AP)

The NFL is back in Los Angeles. The Super Bowl is coming back, too.

League owners voted Tuesday to award Los Angeles Super Bowl LV in 2021. It will be played in the shiny new stadium being built in Inglewood for the return of the Rams.

Also Tuesday, separate votes awarded Super Bowls to Atlanta in 2019 and to South Florida in 2020.

Super Bowl LV will be the eighth hosted by Los Angeles and the first since 1993, when the Cowboys routed the Bills at the Rose Bowl. The first Super Bowl was played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

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Super Bowl LIII is heading to Atlanta

Roger Goodell, Arthur Blank AP

New buildings get Super Bowls, and Atlanta is the latest beneficiary.

NFL owners just voted at their meeting in Charlotte to award Super Bowl LIII to the new Falcons stadium, the latest example of new facility being rewarded with the biggest game of the year.

Atlanta and New Orleans were the finalists for the game, with Miami and Tampa eliminated from the process on earlier ballots.

New Orleans had limited its bid to just the 2019 game (other cities were also bidding for 2020 and 2021), meaning it will be at least 2022 before they’re back in the mix for the game.

Atlanta previously hosted Super Bowl XXXIII, which featured an incredible game between the Titans and Rams, but also an ice storm that crippled the area in advance.

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Doug Whaley doesn’t think humans should play football

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 14:  Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley addresses the media following a press conference announcing Rex Ryan's arrival as head coach of the Buffalo Bills on January 14, 2015 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

In many respects, the NFL has become its own worst enemy in the so-called War on Football. Typically, that happens when the league and people connected to it unreasonably downplay the risks associated with the sport. One team executive has potentially harmed the league’s interests by going to the other extreme.

Asked during an appearance on WGR 550 whether Bills G.M. Doug Whaley believes receiver Sammy Watkins is injury prone, Whaley painted with the broadest possible brush.

“This is the game of football,” Whaley said, via Harry Scull Jr. of the Buffalo News. “Injuries are part of it. It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”

That’s the kind of statement that could prompt plenty of humans to prevent their offspring from playing football. Making the words even more jarring is that Whaley drove directly into a ditch under the guise of trying to justify his faith in Watkins, for whom Whaley gave up the ninth overall pick in 2014, a first-round pick in 2015, and a fourth-round pick in 2015 to acquire.

Coach Rex Ryan was later asked about Whaley’s remarks, which apparently haven’t gathered much traction thanks to the brouhaha arising from the franchise’s goofy new media policy.

“I can say this, I love the game, I think it’s the greatest sports,” Ryan told reporters. “I know it’s the greatest sport, it’s the greatest game and we all know how I feel about it.”

Previously, it was believed that Whaley’s job may be riding on whether the team makes it to the playoffs this year. Tuesday’s gaffe may have sealed his fate, barring the team’s ability to perform what would be the superhuman task of winning a Super Bowl.

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Jim Schwartz: Eagles shouldn’t pre-determine QB competition

Quarterback Carson Wentz throws a pass during the Philadelphia Eagles' rookie minicamp at the team's NFL football training facility, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) AP

As Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz doesn’t really have any say in who wins the Eagles’ quarterback competition. But as a former head coach who was once tasked with determining when a rookie first-round draft pick, Matthew Stafford, was ready to be his starting quarterback, Schwartz has some insight.

And Schwartz’s insight is this: first-round draft pick Carson Wentz should get the chance to earn the starting job.

“Don’t judge him on something else,” Schwartz said, via NJ.com. “And also don’t pre-determine the result of the race. Let him go play. Don’t put extra pressure on him. I can’t speak for Carson. We have enough worries on defense right now. I think when we drafted Stafford, we just let him play. Was he our best quarterback? Was he ready? Unfortunately, he got hurt both his first and second year by holding the ball too long. I think he had the command and he would have been ready to play had it not been for those injuries.”

Schwartz’s boss, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, has decided not to follow that path. Instead, Pederson has already declared that Sam Bradford will be the starter.

At least, that’s what Pederson is saying now. If Wentz looks good in Organized Team Activities, training camp and the preseason, Pederson may change his mind. Schwartz thinks Pederson should be open to that.

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