Calvin Johnson

For other people with the same name, see Calvin Johnson (disambiguation).
Calvin Johnson

refer to caption

Johnson at Detroit Lions training camp in 2012
No. 81
Position: Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1985-09-29) September 29, 1985
Place of birth: Newnan, Georgia
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school: Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek
College: Georgia Tech
NFL Draft: 2007 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions: 731
Receiving yards: 11,619
Receiving touchdowns: 83
Player stats at

Calvin Johnson Jr. (born September 29, 1985) is a former American football wide receiver who played his entire career for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Lions second overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. He played college football at Georgia Tech, where he was twice recognized as an All-American.

On March 14, 2012, Johnson signed an eight-year, US$132million contract extension with the Lions, one of the largest sports contracts ever.[1] Johnson has a rare combination of size (6 ft 5 in and 239 lbs), hands, speed (40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds), strength, leaping ability,[2][3] body control, and hand-eye coordination. His nickname, "Megatron", a Transformers character, was given to him by former Lions wide receiver Roy Williams, and the name caught on with fans.

On December 22, 2012, Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season record for receiving yards, which had previously been 1,848, and Johnson finished the 2012 season with 1,964 yards, an average of almost 123 yards per game.[4][5] In that same game versus the Atlanta Falcons, Johnson also set the NFL records for consecutive 100-yard games (8) and consecutive games with 10 or more receptions (4). He tied Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's record for most 100-yard games in a season with 11.[6]

Early years

Johnson was born to Calvin and Arica Johnson on September 29, 1985 in Newnan, Georgia.[3][7] Johnson was 6 feet tall in middle school, and 6 feet 4 inches in 10th grade.[8] He attended Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Georgia and was a student, a letterman in football, and a baseball standout. In football, he was a three-year starter as a wide receiver. As a sophomore, he made 34 receptions for 646 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a junior, Johnson caught 40 passes for 736 yards and eight touchdowns.[3][9] His number, 81, was retired on October 22, 2010.[10]

Johnson was rated among the nation's top 10 wide receivers and top 100 players by virtually every recruiting analyst. He was tabbed the No. 4 wide receiver and No. 15 player in the nation by, and named to the Super Southern 100 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Rivals 100 by, Hot 100, the SuperPrep All-America 275 and the Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team.[3]

He was also rated the No. 1 player in Georgia, No. 12 in the Southeast and No. 37 in the nation by, the No. 7 wide receiver in the nation by SuperPrep, and first-team all-state selection (Class AAAA) by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Finally, he was tabbed to the AJC's preseason Super 11.[3] By the time he was a junior, he was ranked as within the top 10 wide receivers and the top 100 players in the nation by almost every writer.[3]

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Calvin Johnson
Tyrone, Georgia Sandy Creek HS 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 213 lb (97 kg) 4.27 Jan 12, 2004 
Scout:5/5 stars   Rivals:4/5 stars   247Sports: N/A
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 3 (WR); 34 (school)   Rivals: 6 (WR); 37 (national); 3 (GA); 50 (school)
  • ‡ Refers to 40 yard dash
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height, weight and 40 time.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College career

Calvin Johnson catching a pass

Johnson attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he played for coach Chan Gailey's Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team from 2004 to 2006. Despite Georgia Tech being interested in his playing both football and baseball, Johnson's mother refused to allow Johnson to play both sports after determining that the year-round athletic schedule would be too demanding.[11] In his career at Georgia Tech wearing number 21, Johnson made a case for being the greatest Georgia Tech player of all time. Johnson had 178 receptions in his career, good for 2,927 yards and 28 touchdowns. He ranks first in school history in career receiving yards, second in receptions, first in touchdown receptions, and first in career 100-yard receiving games with 13.[12]

As a freshman in 2004, Johnson was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) selection. Johnson was the Jackets' leading receiver with 48 catches for 837 yards and seven scores, which were Georgia Tech freshman records. Johnson ended his freshman campaign against Syracuse University in the Champs Sports Bowl, where he recorded a touchdown. 2005 was Johnson's sophomore year, when he earned first-team All-American honors. He also earned All-ACC honors for the second straight year and was semifinalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award. He led Tech with 54 catches for 888 yards and six scores.

Johnson entered his 2006 junior season in the running for the Biletnikoff Award and Heisman Trophy. Although Johnson finished tenth in the Heisman voting, he won the Biletnikoff as the best college wide receiver. Johnson was honored as the ACC Player of the Year, was a first-team All-ACC selection for the third consecutive year, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American. Johnson tallied 1,202 yards on 76 catches. Johnson's 15 touchdowns in 2006 was a new Georgia Tech single-season record.[13] Against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Toyota Gator Bowl, Johnson had nine catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns, albeit in a losing effort.[14][15]

College record

College awards and honors

Calvin Johnson's Fred Biletnikoff Award

Academic activities

During the 2006 summer, Johnson, who majored in management with a background in building construction, was given the option of working on either constructing environmentally friendly luxury condos, or a project building solar latrines to improve sanitation in Bolivia.[18][19] Johnson chose the latter, as he wanted to help the less fortunate.[20] The "solar latrines" use the sun’s rays to safely transform bacteria-laden waste into fertilizer.[20][21]


Season Receiving Rushing
Year Team GP Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD
2004 GTECH 12 48 837 17.4 7 3 10 3.3 1
2005 GTECH 12 54 908 16.4 6 0 0 0.0 0
2006 GTECH 14 76 1,202 15.8 15 7 30 4.3 0
Career 38 178 2,927 16.4 28 10 40 4.0 1

Professional career

Calvin Johnson in his Detroit Lions training uniform

Johnson was's Midseason 2007 NFL Draft Projection #1 pick,[22] though Johnson had stated that he intended to earn his degree from Georgia Tech.[3] On January 8, 2007, Johnson declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft, bypassing his senior season at Georgia Tech.[12][23] He was regarded as the best athlete to come out of the draft and was the #1 player on most draft boards.[2][24][25] Johnson was said by ESPN to be able to be productive as a rookie, much like receiver Randy Moss was as a rookie.[2] In a mid-February workout with speed and conditioning coach Mark Pearsall, Johnson clocked a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, recorded an 11-foot standing broad jump, and had a vertical leap of 43 inches.[26]

Johnson surprised many when he weighed in at 239 pounds at the combine, 12 pounds more than expected, although he claims that this season he played "at about 235 and I got up to 238" and that his weight was not a problem.[2] Johnson had told the media that he would not run the 40-yard dash at the combine but would wait until his March 15 workout at Georgia Tech.[27] Johnson ran a 4.35 and wowed scouts with his jump drill results, his receiving skills, and his 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m) broad jump, which is "best broad jump I can ever remember an NFL prospect having," according to Gil Brandt.[28] Johnson is the only player 6-foot-5 or taller, regardless of position, to run a 40-yard dash in under 4.40 seconds at the combine since 2006.[29]

Johnson was selected by the Detroit Lions as the second pick overall in the 2007 NFL Draft.[30][31][32] This is the highest a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket has ever been drafted.[30] The Lions were expected to trade Johnson, most likely to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the team announced that they were keeping him.[33] The next day, the Detroit Tigers invited him to throw out the first pitch.[34][35]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BPWonderlic
6 ft 5 in 239 lb 4.35 s 1.52 s 2.53 s 42.5 in 11 ft 7 in 41
All from NFL Combine, except vertical and broad jump (which are from Georgia Tech pro day).[36][37]

Detroit Lions

2007 season

Johnson attended Reebok's NFL Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles.[38] The Lions, being told by the league that Johnson would have to skip the minicamp to attend, rescheduled the camp to accommodate Johnson.[39] On August 3, 2007, Johnson signed a six-year deal with the Detroit Lions after holding out for eight days, and passed his physical in time to be on the field for the start of that morning's practice.[16][40][41] He was represented by agent James "Bus" Cook. The contract is worth up to US$64 million, with $ in guaranteed money, making Johnson the third highest-paid player in Lions history (the highest at the time, since passed by Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh) and the highest-paid receiver (in guaranteed money) in the NFL.[40][42][43]

Although he did not start the game, Johnson had an impressive NFL debut on Sunday, September 9, 2007, catching 4 passes for 70 yards and his first career touchdown in Detroit's 3621 win over the Oakland Raiders.[44][45][46] He sustained a lower back injury after making a catch over two Philadelphia Eagles defenders on September 23, 2007.[47] He scored his first NFL rushing touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 21, 2007 on a 32-yard reverse play.[48] Fellow teammate Roy Williams nicknamed Johnson "Megatron", due to his large hands being similar to that of the towering Decepticon.[49][50] The nickname caught on well with fans. Williams later changed the nickname to "Bolt" after Jamaican sprinting phenom Usain Bolt, comparing the two athletes' similar height and running abilities.[51] Johnson finished the 2007 season with 756 yards and 5 total touchdowns.[52]

In 2008, Johnson said he could "still feel" the lower-back injury that bothered him throughout his rookie season. Johnson took five weeks off after the 2007 season and was taking part in the Lions' offseason program. "I know it's there but it doesn't hurt," he said.[53] Johnson revealed that he needed Vicodin to play through the final three months of the 2007 season. He needed the medication to help him play with a bone bruise in his back. "I was on meds the rest of the season," he said. "I was taking Vicodin twice a game just to get through the game. I stayed hurt the whole season, probably because I was trying to come back too soon."[54] Johnson averaged 15.8 yards on 48 catches in the 2007 season.[52]

2008 season

Johnson and the Lions faced the Atlanta Falcons on the road on September 7, 2008, to begin the season. As the official starting wide receiver behind Roy Williams, Johnson led the team in receptions and yards, collecting 7 catches for 107 yards, which included one 38-yard catch-and-run in the Lions' 34–21 loss.[55] During week 2 versus the Green Bay Packers, he had two key touchdowns late in the game, which sparked a large comeback, though the Lions eventually lost the game, 4825. Both touchdowns catches included a run after the catch (the first catch going for 38 yards and the second going for 47 yards, both over the middle) displaying Johnson's speed and breakaway ability. He ended the game with 6 receptions for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns.[56] In the following two games, losses to San Francisco and Chicago, Johnson failed to score a touchdown or gain over 50 yards receiving. However, against the Minnesota Vikings, Johnson had 4 receptions for 85 yards and his third touchdown of the season.[57]

On October 14 before the week 6 trade deadline, Roy Williams was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a first, a 3rd and a 7th-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, making Johnson the Lions' starting wide receiver and the last big threat on the offense.[58] In his first game without Roy Williams alongside him in the week 7 game against the Houston Texans, Johnson caught only 2 passes, totaling 154 yards receiving; the first pass didn't come until Dan Orlovsky threw a pass up for grabs at the end of the first half which Johnson caught for 58 yards and the second pass came on a 96-yard touchdown catch-and-run.[59] With Williams gone and starting quarterback Jon Kitna lost to injury for the season, the Texans defense had little to do to stop the Lions' offense but shut down Johnson, winning the game 28–21.[60]

Johnson set a career high for receptions in a game during the week-9 match-up against their division rivals, the Chicago Bears, with 8 receptions that garnered 94 yards and one touchdown, although still losing the game 2723. During week 10, formerly retired All-Pro quarterback Daunte Culpepper was signed to a one-year contract with the Lions in hopes to spur the offense and earned the starting job for the next two games. Johnson ended his first game with Culpepper at quarterback with 2 receptions for 92 yards in a 3814 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In Johnson's 4th game with Culpepper, he had 5 catches for 66 yards. During the week 14 match-up against the division rival Minnesota Vikings, Johnson passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career after collecting 3 catches for 84 yards and one touchdown, ending the week with 1,055 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns on the season.

Johnson and the 2008 Detroit Lions finished the first ever 016 season in NFL history after a 3121 loss to the Green Bay Packers in week 17.[61] Despite the Lions' failures and the fact that five different quarterbacks played during the year, Johnson finished as one of the strongest wide receivers statistically for the season, finishing fifth in receiving yards (1,331) and 7th in receiving yards per game (83.2), and leading the league in receiving touchdowns (12), despite the fact that the entire Lions team only passed for 18 touchdowns. However, Johnson missed the Pro Bowl, with most experts attributing the snub to the Lions' dismal winless season (he was named an alternate instead).[62]

2009 season

After 2008, Detroit's front office and coaching personnel were essentially overhauled by the team ownership. Matt Millen, the team's incumbent general manager and CEO since 2001, was terminated on September 28, 2008. His replacement, Martin Mayhew, ultimately terminated head coach Rod Marinelli in the off-season. Marinelli was replaced by Jim Schwartz, then defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. Schwartz ultimately revamped the entire Detroit offensive (and defensive) philosophieshiring Scott Linehan and Gunther Cunningham, respectively. Detroit held the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and selected Matthew Stafford out of the University of Georgia. Stafford was named the team's starting quarterback out of training camp, but he battled various injuries throughout the season. Much of the 2008 Detroit roster was released by the new regime, and the 2009 team was viewed as somewhat of a work-in-progress, but Johnson still finished the 2009 season with 67 receptions 984 yards and five TDs, while completely missing two games.[52]

2010 season

Calvin Johnson on January 1, 2012 playing against the Green Bay Packers

In a week 1 game against the Chicago Bears, Johnson caught a pass with 31 seconds left in regulation in the end zone for what looked like a game-winning touchdown. However, referee Gene Steratore ruled the catch incomplete, saying that Johnson had not maintained possession of the ball through the entire process of the catch. The Lions lost the game, 1914.[63]

Johnson amassed 77 receptions for 1,120 yards and 12 TDs during 2010. He was also selected to the first Pro Bowl of his career.[64] Following the 2010 season, Johnson was the recipient of the Lions/Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association/Pro Football Writers Association (Detroit Chapter) Media-Friendly Good Guy Award.

2011 season

In 2011, Johnson had his second best statistical season of his NFL career, reaching a career-high 1,681 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. In a week-4 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson helped rally the Lions from a 24-point deficit to a 3430 victory by catching two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a famous catch in which Johnson beat the Cowboys' triple coverage in the end zone.[65] This performance gave Johnson 8 touchdown receptions through the first four games of the season and tied Cris Carter for most consecutive games with multiple touchdown receptions at 4.[65] In a Week 17 game against the Green Bay Packers, Johnson had a career-best 244 receiving yards in a 4541 loss.[66] Johnson and the Lions clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1999, and the first time in Johnson's career, after a 3810 beating of the San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve.[67]

However, Detroit would ultimately lose on the road against the Packers the following week (New Year's Day) and would find themselves on the road again in a 2012 NFC Wild Card game against the heavily favored New Orleans Saints in the playoff bracket. Always tough to play against at the Superdome, the Saints wore down the Detroit defense and New Orleans would go on to a win 4528. In the game, Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 receiving yards and two touchdownsbreaking Detroit's playoff record of 150 receiving yards in a playoff game previously held by Brett Perriman and Leonard Thompson.

2012 season

On March 14, 2012, Johnson signed an 8-year extension worth US$132 million with the Detroit Lions, with US$60 million guaranteed, making Johnson the highest-paid receiver in the league. Johnson beat out 42 other players and eliminated Cam Newton to win the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete on April 25, 2012, on SportsNation.[68] From week 916, he recorded consecutive games with 125 receiving yards or more, which broke the NFL record previously held by Pat Studstill. On December 22, 2012 against the Atlanta Falcons, Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yards record of 1,848 yards.[69] Johnson was also named a starter for the NFC in the Pro Bowl played in Honolulu, Hawaii.[70] Johnson finished with 72 yards against Chicago in week 17, missing out on 2000 by just 36 yards.[71] Johnson finished the season leading the league in receptions (122) and receiving yards (1,964).[72] Johnson is the only player in the Super Bowl era (since 1967) to average 120 yards per game in a season when he averaged 122.8 yards per game in 2012.[73]

2013 season

On October 27, 2013, in a 3130 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson caught 14 of 16 passes thrown in his direction; he finished the game with 329 receiving yards and one touchdown. In addition to breaking the Lions' franchise record of 302 receiving yards set by Cloyce Box on Dec. 3, 1950, it was the highest receiving yardage ever in a regulation-length game and the second-highest overall single-game yardage in NFL history, behind Flipper Anderson's 336-yard performance in a 1989 overtime win (Anderson accumulated 40 of those yards in overtime).[74] In this same game, Calvin also tied Lance Alworth for the most career games with at least 200 yards receiving (5).[75]

In a Week 10 game against the Chicago Bears, Johnson had two TD receptions. The second one gave him the Lions all-time record for touchdown catches (63), breaking the old mark previously held by Herman Moore.[76] Johnson was named to the 2014 Pro Bowl, but an injury forced him to withdraw.[77]

2014 season

Johnson playing against the Green Bay Packers in 2014.

In the Thanksgiving Day game against the Chicago Bears (November 27), Johnson became the fastest player to reach 10,000 receiving yards in NFL history, eclipsing the mark in the second quarter of his 115th game. He was named to his fifth Pro Bowl in a row, the most by any Lion since Barry Sanders was named to 10 straight pro bowls.[78]

2015 season

Much like Week 1 in Chicago five years back, in Week 4 at Seattle, Johnson was involved in another controversial play. This time, late in the fourth quarter, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor punched the ball out of Johnson's hands while he was trying to score. K.J. Wright then batted the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. The NFL later admitted the referees should have penalized Wright for illegal batting. The Seahawks won 1310.

In Week 5 against Arizona, Johnson caught his 671st pass, breaking Herman Moore's franchise record. However, the Lions were the victims of a 4217 loss to the Cardinals.

In Week 6, Johnson caught 6 passes for 166 yards in an overtime victory over Chicago. This gave the Lions their first victory of the season after an 05 start. In Week 12, against Philadelphia, Johnson caught eight passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns to help lead the Lions to their third straight victory and lift their record to 47.

In Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL International Series on November 1, 2015, Johnson became the fastest player to reach 11,000 receiving yards in NFL history, in his 127th game.[79]

Johnson finished the season with 88 receptions for 1,214 yards (13.8 average), and nine touchdowns, reaching 1,000-yards receiving for the sixth consecutive year, and seventh time in nine-years.[80] Johnson was named to the Pro Bowl for the sixth consecutive year, however declined to attend.[81] His 1,214 yards in 2015 are the most ever in a player's final season in the NFL, while his 88 receptions are the second most in a player's final season, trailing Sterling Sharpe's 94 in 1994.[29]


On March 8, 2016, Johnson announced his retirement from the NFL after nine seasons.[73][82] His 11,619 receiving yards rank third in a player's first nine seasons, trailing only Torry Holt (11,864) and Jerry Rice (11,776). Since Johnson was drafted by the Lions with the second overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, no player has more receiving yards, receiving touchdowns or 100-yard games (46) than Johnson through the 2015 season. Among those who have played in 100 career games in NFL history, no player has averaged more receiving yards per game than Johnson. Johnson's average of 86.1 receiving yards per game is 8.7 yards better than the next-closest player on that list, Holt. From 2011 to 2013, Johnson caught 302 passes for 33 touchdowns. His 5,137 receiving yards over that time are the most by any player over a three-year stretch in NFL history.[29][83]


Season Receiving Rushing Fumbles
Year Team GP GS Tgt Rec Yds Avg TD Lng Att Yds Avg Lng TD Fum Lost
2007 DET 15 10 93 48 756 15.8 4 49 4 52 13.0 32T 1 1 0
2008 DET 16 16 150 78 1,331 17.1 12 96T 3 −1 −0.3 7 0 3 2
2009 DET 14 14 137 67 984 14.7 5 75T 7 73 10.4 19 0 3 2
2010 DET 15 15 137 77 1,120 14.5 12 87T 4 32 8.0 15 0 1 0
2011 DET 16 16 158 96 1,681 17.5 16 73T 1 11 11.0 11 0 1 1
2012 DET 16 16 204 122 1,964 16.1 5 53 0 0 0.0 0 0 3 3
2013 DET 14 14 156 84 1,492 17.8 12 87 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1
2014 DET 13 13 128 71 1,077 15.2 8 67T 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0
2015 DET 16 16 149 88 1,214 13.8 9 57 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1
Career 135 130 1,312 731 11,619 15.9 83 96T 19 167 8.8 32T 1 14 10

NFL records

Lions franchise records

Dancing with the Stars

On August 30, 2016, Johnson was announced as one of the celebrities who will compete on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. He is partnered with professional dancer Lindsay Arnold. He finished in third to James Hinchcliffe and Laurie Hernandez.

Week Dance / Song Judges' score Result
Inaba Goodman Hough Tonioli
1 Cha-cha-cha / "That's What I Like" 7 6 6 7 No elimination
2 Foxtrot / "As Days Go By" 7 7 7 7 Safe
3 Viennese Waltz / "It's a Woman's World" 8 8 8 8 Safe (Immunity)
4 Charleston / "Bella Donna Twist" 8 7 8 Safe
5 Jazz / "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" 8 8 8 No elimination
6 Argentine Tango / "Hotel California" 9 101 9 9 Last to be called safe
7 Jive / "Good Golly, Miss Molly"
Team Freestyle / "The Skye Boat Song"
8 Quickstep / "Dr. Bones"
Jive Dance Off / "The Purple People Eater"

9 Waltz / "Memory"
Team-Up Dance (Paso Doble) / "No Good"
Tango / "Seven Nation Army"
Trio Salsa / "Limbo"

Last to be called safe
Viennese Waltz / "I Am Your Man"
Freestyle / "Please Mr. Postman" & "I Want You Back"
Jive & Quickstep Fusion / "Tutti Frutti"
Third Place

1 Score given by guest judge Pitbull.
2 Score given by guest judge Idina Menzel

Personal life

Johnson became engaged to long time girlfriend Brittney McNorton in March 2015. They were married in June of 2016.[95] They currently reside in Atlanta. He has a son from a previous relationship.

Johnson is a Christian. Johnson has a tattoo of the crucifixion of Jesus on his left arm and a Christian cross on his right arm.[96][97] Johnson was part of a weekly Bible study group with other Lions players.[98]

Johnson is funding a film called Real Love. The film is "a coming-of-age story about a girl trying to stay true to her virginity and her religion" and "... a message [Johnson] wants to get out there."[99][100]


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External links

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Preceded by
Jerry Rice
NFL single-season receiving record
Succeeded by

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