NFL teams must finally treat Colin Kaepernick like any other available player

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Colin Kaepernick last played NFL football on January 1, 2017. More than three years later, he has received no offers from any NFL teams. More than three years later, he has received no invitation to work out for any NFL teams.

Other than a visit to (not a workout with) the Seahawks in 2018, Kaepernick has been ignored by the NFL’s 32 teams for three full seasons.

Now that the NFL possibly has seen the light when it comes to the reasons for Kaepernick’s anthem protests and the decision to blackball him, ostensibly for business reasons, the question becomes whether Kaepernick’s name will be moved back into the column of men who will be contacted for potential workouts and/or contracts as part of the never ending roster churn that happens for every NFL team.

Since he became a free agent in March of 2017, Kaepernick has been excluded from that column. Some coaches and/or executives, whispering into the ears of reporters happy to have the scoop, fashioned false narratives to clumsily justify Kaepernick’s removal from consideration for a starting job, a backup job, anything.

Now that more than three years have passed since Kaepernick played in the NFL, the best argument for keeping him out of the NFL becomes that he hasn’t played in the NFL in more than three years. But that’s not his fault; he didn’t excommunicate himself.

So the challenge moving forward for a coach, a G.M., and ultimately an owner will be to set aside the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t played since January 1, 2017 and to give him fair consideration for a spot on the depth chart. Once teams are able to conduct business on a normal (or somewhat normal) basis, they’ll be realizing that some players on the preseason roster aren’t good enough to make it to the regular-season roster. They’ll be confronting the realities of injuries or, possibly, COVID-19 infections. Inevitably, they’ll be working out players at every position.

After three-plus years of a Schrutian cold shoulder, will Kaepernick be unshunned? Will he get a free and fair chance to show what he can do?

The team that considers Kaepernick first will have to be willing to absorb criticism from those who hate Kaepernick. Then, if the team genuinely concludes that Kaepernick isn’t good enough to be signed (or that he’s not good enough to migrate from the 90-man roster to the 53-man roster), it will have to be willing to absorb criticism from those who support Kaepernick.

In this moment, hopefully at least one team will have the courage and fortitude to take flak from one or both camps. At a time when the key word sweeping the nation, and the world, is equality, Kaepernick deserves something he hasn’t received in more than three years: An equal shot.

To get an equal shot, at least one owner will have to not care about the consequences of doing the right thing. Many people worth far less money than the average NFL owner are currently making decisions and taking action without regard to consequences. If the NFL wants to convert Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Friday night words into meaningful and tangible change, the first step will be to to stop treating Kaepernick like a pariah and to subject him to the same merit-based assessments that happen all the time in the NFL, with players being hired and fired and hired and fired and at all times evaluated based solely on what they can do to help a team win.

From Kaepernick’s perspective, it won’t be easy. He’ll have to find a way to set aside his inherent (and justified) mistrust of the league. And given the fact that he hasn’t played for so long, he’ll have to take whatever he can get financially, at least until he re-establishes himself.

Regardless, the image of Kaepernick in an NFL uniform again (whether he actually plays or not) would be powerful, and helpful, at this unique and fragile time in American history. He should get the opportunity to wear a uniform only if his current talents truly merit it, but it’s likely when considering some of the names already on NFL rosters that he could roll out of bed on any given day and be more talented and accomplished than plenty of them.

106 responses to “NFL teams must finally treat Colin Kaepernick like any other available player

  1. nobody is going to sign him….it’s been 3 years and he was losing jobs to blaine gabbart… let it go dog it’s over

  2. So what team is going to be forced to take him. That is the bigger question.

  3. How we all pick and choose, cry for one but the whistleblowers of corporations and government have been shunned with no fanfare and they actually were trying to protect all races. Rights for all is what the cry should be

  4. Colin Kaepernick was extremely brave. He stood by his convictions at what he certainly knew would be great personal cost. How many of us would exhibit such courage? He is a role model and a hero, regardless of whether he plays another down in the NFL or not.

  5. I think the Eagles would definitely have signed him, but they just drafted Jalen Hurts in the 2nd round. The Eagles signed Mike Vick after prison release, and that worked out OK. I’d love for it from a PR perspective, but from financial and football, there’s just no need on their roster. I’d have to imagine that Cam would get signed before Kaepernick, since Cam has better career accolades, and has done it more recently, given all other things being equal. However, someplace with a firmly entrenched starter, like Baltimore or Seattle or even Kansas City would make great sense.

    The more I think about it, Kansas City is probably a great place for him to go. No one’s going to call for him to play over Mahomes. Andy Reid’s been through this dance before with McNabb and Vick, there’s still a lot of residual tension socially from the Ferguson stuff a few years ago that likely just got reopened.

  6. He has been treated like any other available player – one who had a lousy last couple seasons, who wants to be paid like a starter, who has publicly insulted league owners on multiple occasions over the last couple years, and who sued the league for collusion and took a multi-million-dollar settlement rather than fighting for a judgment on the matter.

    If someone can name one player in NFL history who’s done all of that yet been given better treatment than Kaepernick is being given, let me know.

  7. I think they have. He’s a decent player at best, but more towards average.

    If someone thought that he was the second coming of Manning or Brady, he wouldn’t have been out there very long.

  8. They do. If he was any good someone would sign him. I don’t see how signing him would make any significant change.

  9. “he’ll have to take whatever he can get financially, at least until he re-establishes himself.”

    Definition of an optimist: Believing that a guy who looks nothing like he did in his prime and hasn’t played in 4 years is going “re-establish” himself. He has literally been out of the league for longer than the average NFL career.

  10. First of all, why does he deserve a chance over other players? He has been out of the league for 3 years. How many players have successfully come back after sitting out for 3 years? Your skills don’t typically improve as you get older (he is 32), nor do they typically improve when you aren’t playing.

    My understanding is he turned down opportunities in other (non NFL) leagues, by asking for a ton of money. Is he willing to play for the league minimum – which would likely be the contract offered to anyone who hasn’t played for a couple of years?

    I still think he is too much of a distraction in comparison to his on field performance. But it only takes one team to feel otherwise. (and in a competitive game like Football, I truly find it hard to believe that if there was a single owner who felt he could be the difference for his team, that he wouldnt have been signed anytime in the last 3 years.). Owners might agree about maximizing revenue – but there is only 1 champion each year – and (hopefully) most owners are looking for an edge. Clearly, they dont feel Kaep offers such an edge

  11. So if Miami was to consider signing him he could show up in his castro t-shirt? (with his pigs=police socks)? No thanks.

  12. Yes, they can treat Kaepernick like any other available player… A (ex) player who has been out of the league for 3 years. How many (ex)players that have not played in 3 years or more EVER play again? Any?

    Treating him like any other available player who has not played in 3 years likely means no one is interested.

  13. Can we please stop with this?

    I am not even going to argue about blackballing him, etc. At this point, what is done is done. Lets even go so far as to agree he was blackballed from football. That doesnt help him today.

    He was average to below average for his last 2 full seasons in the NFL. We can argue the supporting cast, we can argue Harbaugh leaving. We can argue lots of different things, but the fact is, he was average at best, and he only excelled at a very specific style of football.

    Since then, he has not played one second of football for 3 full seasons. So 3 seasons out of football, 2 seasons of average football, and he is going on 6 years since he played quality football. Has he improved in the last 3 years? Is anyone really going to argue he is better today than he was in 2017?

    And I dont want to hear about his workout and his arm strength and all of that other stuff. Ryan Mallett had a pretty strong arm. Jamarcus Russell had a pretty strong arm. Ryan Leaf had a pretty strong arm. Point is, anyone can stand in an empty field and show off their arm talent. But very few can translate arm talent to NFL QB.

    If he was blackballed, thats too bad for him, and thats too bad for the movement he was spearheading. But regardless, his playing days are over, and pretending he should be on a roster at this point is almost comical. Because lets look at it from a team perspective. Rosters are at 90 players. Is he good enough to be one of 90. Sure, lets give him one of the 90 spots. But what happens in September when final cuts come out. If he gets cut, all the good will the team earned, all the rpaise heaped on the team, will quickly turn into rage and vitriol, and accusations of racism all over again. No one will believe he got cut cuz he wasnt good enough. It will be spun that he wasnt signed to actually play, he was signed as some nefarious ploy and the plan was to cut him all along, etc.

  14. Is he still available for the practice squad? Oh wait, he’ll still demand $20mil to be a fourth string practice squader, so he’ll once again NOT BE SIGNED. He is NOT GOOD.

  15. The media seems to be missing the point. Colin was treated exactly as other players are

    He was an overpriced QB, he lost his starting job, he elected to test free agency thinking he was still a starting QB….

    Colin created his own mess. He declined an option on a $13M CONTRACT – a colossal error in judgement.

    he’s been blaming everyone else ever since.

    let’s move on already.

  16. Ignored??? Are you kidding? He was given his own workout opportunity and he balked.

  17. ……that stinks & has an overinflated value of his worth to football teams…
    Role model… nahhhh, self proclaimed/perceived martyr would be much closer to the truth….

  18. When I see Kaepernick try out for a backup role that pays $5 mil per, I’ll believe it. Until then, everyone knows he turned down less money for backup roles.

  19. It is amazing how many people want Kaepernick to play more than Kaepernick himself does. The perfect role for him was backup to Russell Wilson. He sabotaged that chance. The Ravens would have also been a good landing spot for him. He sabotaged that too. A scripted, smart workout in Atlanta would have made it hard for anyone to say he should not be getting a shot. He sabotaged that too. There’s no getting around any of it.

  20. Rust is hard to shake off. I seriously doubt that Kaep could ever be a starter in the NFL again. A backup, maybe–but probably not after all this time. I support his activism and am grateful for what he’s done for the Black community. However, from a purely footbabll-playing standpoint, I think his playing days are probably over.

  21. Plus, you can’t treat him like “any available player” because he comes with a way too much baggage. This baggage is the media circus that will never leave. So its going to be hard to find a team that is willing to deal with said baggage for a 3rd or 4th string QB.

    Why do you think Tebow never got another shot? He was average to below average, but he brought too much of a media circus.

  22. Regardless, the image of Kaepernick in an NFL uniform again (whether he actually plays or not) would be powerful, and helpful, at this unique and fragile time in American history.

    In summary, he should be signed for political theater. lol

  23. You seem to forget that the NFL actually arranged for him to have a workout in front of reps from multiple teams team not long ago. Never happened for any other player, as far as I know.

    And what did Kaepernick do? He “bravely” decided to just bail out and not attend becuase some of his last minute “demands” weren’t met.

    I’m sorry but for me personally, there is no way that this guy deserves a job in the NFL, or any media exposure for that matter.

  24. he will keep the hero status for ever cuz no team will fork over the Millions he thinks he is worth..

  25. Ironically, every year there are loads of big-name “available” players who end up not even showing up in a football camp, and yet people don’t go looking for conspiracy explanations with them. Former great Eric Berry was sitting there for the taking all last offseason and is still around now, and yet he hasn’t signed with anyone. Is he being shunned unfairly? No…he has made it clear that he won’t play at a salary that doesn’t match his previous great play, and teams apparently don’t want to pay nearly that much for a guy who has to engage in pain management for a chronic heel condition and thus is a major injury risk.

    Had Berry been part of the group of players who were vocal about kneeling and other related things, people would be (wrongly, given that he hasn’t signed anyways despite not being in this group) assuming that he is being shunned out by the league. And he’s one of dozens of such names. Every year when I get my Lindy’s Football Annual, there is a section listing notable unsigned players, and when I was younger I used to think “how is he still out there? I want my favorite team to sign him!” I’ve since woken up to the fact that these guys are unsigned for good reasons, sometimes of their own choosing, and sometimes because teams no longer feel they are worth rostering for their desired prices.

    Does this mean Kaepernick was not being shunned out of the league? No; it’s very very possible. But POSSIBLE, not proven. One of the great sins of our day and age is that possible discriminations are now being labeled as certain discriminations, even when perfectly viable organic non-discriminatory explanations exit. In Kaepernicks’s case, the giant question that would help rule out (or verify) one such alternative explanation has been thus: what have been his contract and role demands? If he wanted a guarantee to start and/or major money (as was the case with the AAF and XFL), that is precisely the sort of reasonable thing that would drive teams to lack an interest in him.

    Has Kaepernick been a true victim of discrimination, or has he worked to leverage his activism to increase his demands to sign with a team, knowing that teams rightly refusing unreasonable demands would be ignored and he would be treated as a victim? I don’t know, but neither do most people who don’t hesitate to render judgement on him or the league owners. Only he and the owners themselves really know the truth, and of course neither can be trusted to definitely be telling the truth.

  26. Does the league get its 8 figures back if signed? If teams thought he would help them win and not hurt them financially, he would be signed. Simple. Teams care more about winning or there would not be guys with rap sheets in the league.

  27. I hope somebody signs him and makes them their starter week one so the rest of the world can finally see what a horrible player he was and is and all this “he wasn’t signed because the owners are racist” goes away once and for all.

  28. Kap was blackballed. No getting away from that. That’s why the NFL settled the grievance. But that ship has sailed. It’s done. But the legacy of what he did and why lives on.

  29. He isn’t good enough yet he was good enough to win 5 playoff games and get a team to the superbowl

  30. “NFL teams must finally treat Colin Kaepernick like any other available player” – who’s better days are far behind him and is asking for too much money. He walked on $12.5 million dollars by opting out of his contract. How much do people think he’s going to want to start playing again. A lot of this is on him.

  31. I can see Kap being signed by the Minnesota Vikings…and not just a minimum salary…3 million a year for 3 years.

  32. He has had chances to get back into the NFL. The Ravens incident was a good opportunity until his girlfriend made inflammatory remarks about the owner. He doesn’t want to play football. He wants to play the victim. Also, the Broncos wanted him but at a lower price. He decided he’d rather be unemployed than take a paycut. Then the most recent workout he turned into a media circus. Conveniently ignored every time this story comes up is the Castro shirt and pig socks.

    If that’s not enough, he just quite simply is not that good and nobody is going to meet his demands. He likely wants to be guaranteed to be the starter and probably wants $20M+. That’s not going to happen. He’s not employed for the same reasons as Tebow….he’s not good enough to play QB and he’s certainly not worth the media sideshow that he would create. He made his choices, now he has to live with it. He was successful in his first year at SF because they had a great team but teams figured out how to play him and his successive years exposed him to what he was–a running QB who can’t read defenses. There’s not much of a demand for QBs like that in the NFL.

  33. Everyone says he wasn’t a good QB only remember his last year in the league when half the team retired in the off-season when the from office pushed out the Head Coach and he had to deal with Chip Kelly. The front office just basically blew up what did you expect for him to do

  34. Even if this guy still had decent football skills, which I don’t think he does, most teams aren’t going to want the media distraction/sideshow that will come along with bringing him to camp.

  35. He actually played pretty well his last season. And three years ago i would have been all in on him coming to the eagles. But 3 years is to long to be out of the game imo. Its a shame but it is what it is. The funny thing is the one team i could really see getting the most out of him is NE. Thats where id like to see him go if he wants to play.

  36. NFL locker rooms will never be the same after this week. That ship has sailed. With that being said, to add a Colin Kaepernick to your locker room would be the same as turning your locker room into a social justice center. Winning football games would not be the primary objective, but that locker room would become ‘ground zero’ for Kaepernick’s cause. No matter how you slice it, Kaepernick will always be known for kneeling and not winning football games. Its a no-win proposition. Also, three missed seasons is too long to be away in today’s NFL. I doubt he can make an impact talent wise.

  37. This is and always was going to be a no-win situation for teams. Now more than ever.

    Even if he is signed, his supporters will continue to whine that he should be a starter under their ongoing delusion that he ‘is better than half the starting QB’s in the league today,’ etc. Then if he doesn’t perform well, it’ll be WELL THE NFL BLACKBALLED HIM FOR YEARS RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.

  38. What team is doing Hard Knocks? Whoever they are, have them sign Kap. Then we can get a first hand account of his character, his ability, and see what happens. Maybe he wins a job or maybe he gets walked to the coaches office by the “Turk” at some point. But then we’ll know and we can stop with the constant hypothetical analysis over and over again.

  39. “NFL teams must finally treat Colin Kaepernick like any other available player”
    Yes, like any other player whose been out of the league 3+ years.

  40. No reason why he should be a backup somewhere. There certainly worse QB’s employed elsewhere in the NFL.

  41. 50DrunksInABar says:
    June 8, 2020 at 11:20 am
    I think the Eagles would definitely have signed him, but they just drafted Jalen Hurts in the 2nd round. The Eagles signed Mike Vick after prison release, and that worked out OK. I’d love for it from a PR perspective, but from financial and football, there’s just no need on their roster.
    The Eagles did sign Vick after prison- to be a backup. Kap’s last three seasons he went 8-8, 2-6 and 1-10 in games he started. The season he went 1-10 and was benched, Gabbert came in and took the same team to a 1-4 record.

  42. At this point, given the realities of his situation and how long he has been out of the league (no matter whose fault that is), it really seems as if the best option for him is to work in the league office. The NFL could make him something along the lines of a social justice ambassador.

  43. If by any other available player you mean unemployed because he’s not a good football player, then I agree.

  44. He doesn’t want to play. Because if he actually did get a starting job (which I have serious doubts about) and he played poorly, it would prove that everybody was right all along. And that is that he’s just not that good and that’s the REAL reason he wasn’t signed.

  45. I hope he gets signed so his supporters can see why no one was signing him in the first place.

  46. Has Kaepernick or his camp ever said he’ll take a backup role for backup money???

  47. Is he willing to take a best case of a deal similar to Winston’s or worst case a roster spot going into camp?

  48. Like any other 32 year old 59% completion rate running QB who hasn’t played in four years, was losing his job to the likes of Blaine Gabbert 4 years ago, and isn’t committed to football as his main priority…

  49. I’ve watched pro football for nearly 40 years. Players come and go. Some last on a team for 10 days, some last for 10 years. Some get older quicker it seems. Some get injured often. Others thrive for years. It’s a business. Nobody should get treated any differently than anyone else. Coaches get paid to win, players get paid to win, etc. Kap is one of thousands of players who came in, did his part, and now he’s gone. Move on.

  50. Kap could have been a Denver Bronco (according to Elway), but Kap didnt take the offer.

  51. I’ll keep it simple.

    If Kap gets a job in any capacity over Cam, I swear I quit the NFL.

  52. If he had just protested on his own time, he still might be a backup somewhere. He made his bed. No sympathy from me.

  53. I will laugh when the Pats sign him and he wins them another SB the first year without Brady.

    Bucs won’t make it but that would be an awesome SB — Brady’s Bucs vs Kap’s Pats. Would be funny if the niners went back and lost again, but they won’t make it either.

  54. Record in final season as starting NFL QB: Tebow 8-5(w/playoff win), Kaepernick 1-10

  55. Kap taking the Patriots to a Superbowl is laughable. First off they have no cap money to sign him, just like they have no cap money to sign Dalton or Newton. They have their QB in place for 2020 and his name is Jarrett Stidham.

  56. I agree. Kaepernick should be treated like any other Mediocre Backup QB who wants more money than what he’s worth

  57. benny457 says:
    June 8, 2020 at 11:47 am

    He isn’t good enough yet he was good enough to win 5 playoff games and get a team to the superbowl


    His last playoff win was 6.5 years ago. If you want to judge a QB by team wins and losses, his last few years weren’t good. The key words in your sentence are isn’t (present tense) and was (past tense).

  58. If joe flacco was asking for over $12 million a year, would anybody pay him it?

    Didn’t think so.

  59. benny457 says:
    June 8, 2020 at 11:47 am

    He isn’t good enough yet he was good enough to win 5 playoff games and get a team to the superbowl
    Trent Dilfer won 5 playoff games, and won a Super Bowl

  60. So looking at all these comments bashing Kap for not playing well his last 2-3 seasons and i’m thinking which of of those fans QBs took their team to the superbowl in the last 10 years…

  61. How many former players that have been away from the game for 3 years would teams even consider?

  62. Agree, he should be treated as any other nfl player out of the league for 3yrs. Which means he is basically done.

  63. If a team signed him and played him, it would immediately jump to “must-see TV” while receiving overwhelming positive publicity. Sure 10% to 20% of its fans may abandon the team, but another 20-30% would support the team. I have no idea if Kap can still play. Neither does anyone else, but he always deserved the chance to play. Isn’t that what America is all about?

  64. He doesn’t want to play football. That much was clear when he said he’d play in the AAF for $20 million. He wants NFL starter money but no team is going to pay that for a backup that brings that much “noise” with him. Let us not forget, the last time he played he got benched for Blaine Gabbert!

  65. Dwayne Haskins marched for social justice this weekend. The Redskins have a great quarterback who is trying to make the world a better place. What more can any fan want?

  66. If Kaepernick deserves the opportunity after more than 3 years out of the game, my guess is that all the AAF, XFL and CFL players deserve the opportunity too.

    The problem here is that Kaepernick will ask for starting QB money before the camp while the others will only ask for a chance to compete.

  67. SixToTheHouse says:
    June 8, 2020 at 2:55 pm
    So looking at all these comments bashing Kap for not playing well his last 2-3 seasons and i’m thinking which of of those fans QBs took their team to the superbowl in the last 10 years…

    Mine took our team to the super bowl last season, and WON.

  68. “ NFL teams must finally treat Colin Kaepernick like any other available player” except that if a team cuts him based on abilities alone, they will be worried about getting sued.

  69. I’ve remained on the sidelines on this because there isn’t anything to add to the debate that hasn’t already been said regardless of where you stand. However, I see people constantly saying that he walked away from his contract.. That’s not entirely true. The Niners did him a solid and told him they were going in a different direction – and they did it early so he could find another team. It’s disingenuous to say otherwise unless you just weren’t aware of that..

  70. What happens when a team signs him and he isn’t one the best 3 QB’s? Will they be afraid to cut him because of the backlash?

  71. Sure they will; they’ll cut him during the preseason because he’s not starting material, and he’s not worth the headache of keeping around as a backup.

  72. You cannot force one team to sign him… which of the 32 teams HAS to sign him? I think it would be more likely that the NFL league office should give him a position to help lead these efforts.

  73. Give him a chance to prove he can play. He’s got to be at least as good as most if not all of the 3rd stringers out there. Makes all the throws. Can go 90 yards with his legs. Y’all just mad at this man, and if you are, it says tons!

  74. benny457 says:
    “Kaepernick has won 5 playoff games and got a team to a superbowl”

    The SF defense got him to a superbowl.

  75. He is owed nothing and will get nothing because he’ll ask for everything. He hasn’t played in 3 years and only shined when he played on star studded teams. It’s over for him, move on.

  76. Until a couple of NFL Scouts tell me he’s done, I’m going to root for him to get back in the game.

  77. It won’t change the fact that he wont hold a clipboard or settle for clipboard-holding money. If he won’t change, then it will take an owner desperate enough to promise him a starting job.

  78. Can Newton is still out there unemployed. If some starting QB goes down during the season, who do you think that team would be more likely to add to their roster? I’ll give you a hint. It’s probably not the guy who hasn’t played in three years.

  79. Yes. Finally treat him like any other 32 year old player whose “best” days are behind him and wasn’t good when we last saw him and has been out of the league for 4 years and is not focused on football. Ignore him.

  80. He was a sitter that was coached into a kneeler and he has lost the requisite skills to play in the NFL.

  81. He’s been out of the game too long. His career is over. Plus, if someone really wanted him, he would already be on a team.

  82. benny457 says:
    June 8, 2020 at 11:46 am
    Kaepernick has won 5 playoff games and got a team to a superbowl


    All of that was done in 2012 and 2013. It’s 2020. That Super Bowl was SEVEN YEARS AGO. Based on your logic, someone should sign Mark Sanchez since he led the Jets to back to back AFC title games and has 4 playoff wins under his belt.

  83. Just for the sake or the argument, let’s Kaepernick signs with an NFL team. He might have what….3-5 years left in his career?

    Or Kaepernick can get tens of millions of dollars from Nike to play the celebrity martyr…..which is a career he can milk forever.

    Kaepernick can’t afford to go back to the NFL…..nor does he want to.

  84. The headline says it all. The NFL already DOES treat him like any other available player…who hasn’t played in four years, and was 1-10 in his last season in the league. No business ever got successful hiring an employee with that type of history, regardless of politics

  85. Andy Reid took a chance on Michael Vick after he competed his hail term, and it worked out ok.
    A MULTITUDE of the people who resent KAEPERNICK are the same ones who resent Black Lives Matter.
    I guess it’s the world we live in.
    If you don’t believe me, watch what happens to this post.

  86. If he was a great NFL QB rather than a flash in the pan has been, he would have been signed long ago.

    Not so sure why this is too difficult for some people to comprehend!

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