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(PHOENIX) — Arizona Cardinals defensive end JJ Watt will have season-ending shoulder surgery, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The team had already ruled Watt out for Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, and he was listed as Did Not Participate all week during practice. 

Watt injured his shoulder during the second quarter of Sunday’s win over the Titans. He ends the year with ten tackles and one sack for the 7-0 Cardinals.

It is the latest injury for the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year. Watt missed 13 games in 2016 after two back surgeries, 11 games in 2017 with a fractured tibia, and eight games in 2019 with a torn pectoral muscle.

This latest injury will be his fourth season-ending injury in six seasons after starting all 80 games in his first five seasons as a member of the Houston Texans. 

The team did get good news this week. 

Arizona activated linebacker Chandler Jones and defensive lineman Zach Allen off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Both players missed the past two games.

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(NEW YORK) -- The NAACP on Thursday called on members of the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL and MLB to consider not signing with teams in Texas as a protest against several controversial laws passed recently in the state.

In the two-page letter given first to ABC News, the NAACP took jabs at state lawmakers, calling the state "a blueprint by legislators to violate constitutional rights for all, especially for women, children and marginalized communities." The NAACP noted the state's controversial laws on abortion, voting rights and coronavirus mask mandates as reasons for free agents not to sign with Texas teams.

"As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children and marginalized communities," NAACP National President Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas State Conference President Gary Bledsoe wrote in the letter. "Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman's freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and Brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus."

"If you are a woman, avoid Texas. If you are Black, avoid Texas," the letter continued. "If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas."

Texas' SB8, the strictest anti-abortion law in the country, has caused protests nationwide and a current legal fight between the state and Department of Justice. The law bans abortions after a so-called fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a person knows they are pregnant.

Republicans in the state also spent months trying to overhaul the voting system in the state, even though Democrats say the new rules will make it harder for minority voters to take part in elections. Although there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Texas following the 2020 election, Republicans claim they are seeking to restore voter confidence in the state's elections.

Gov. Greg Abbott, the only politician who is mentioned by name in the NAACP's letter, has also been a vociferous opponent of mask and vaccine mandates to fight COVID-19.

There are nine Texas teams playing the leagues mentioned by the NAACP: the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets; the NHL's Dallas Stars; the WNBA's Dallas Wings; MLB's Texas Rangers and Houston Astros; and the NFL's Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys.

With the NHL, NFL and NBA seasons less than halfway over, the leagues won't welcome free agency until well into 2022. MLB free agency begins five days after the end of the World Series, where the Astros are currently playing.

The letter comes just a few months after MLB took a stand against Georgia's voting overhaul this past baseball season when it moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest.

The civil rights group is calling on athletes to "seek employment with sports teams located in states that will protect, honor and serve your families with integrity."

The group added, "Until the legislation is overturned, Texas isn't safe for anyone."

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

Atlanta 6 Houston 2 (Atlanta leads series 1-0)

New York 112, Philadelphia 99
Golden State 106, Oklahoma City 98
Dallas 116, Houston 106
LA Lakers 125, San Antonio 121 (OT)
Utah 122, Denver 110

Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1
Calgary 5, New Jersey 3
Vegas 3, Colorado 1
Nashville 3, San Jose 1
Minnesota 3, Vancouver 2
Seattle 5 Montreal 1
Winnipeg 4, Anaheim 3

Los Angeles FC 3, Seattle 0

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Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TOM FORD: AUTUMN/WINTER 2020 RUNWAY SHOW

NFL star Russell Wilson didn't allow a recent injury to stop him from celebrating wife Ciara's 36th birthday Monday.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback was sidelined from Monday night's game against the New Orleans Saints after undergoing hand surgery. However, he made the night very special for his Grammy-winning spouse. Wilson rented the top two floors of Seattle's iconic Space Needle observation tower and restaurant, which was filled with rose petals, candles, flowers and balloons.

"Perfect in every way. God made you for me. He made you to fit perfectly in my arms. Made you to be the amazing woman and mother you are. God made you to entertain the world with your gift to sing & dance!" he commented on Instagram.

"Awe baby. You are my everything!," Ciara replied. "Thank you for making me feel special today, and everyday. I’m a better woman because of you! I love you so much!"

With the music of Sade's "No Ordinary Love" in the background, Ciara was amazed, constantly repeating, "Oh my God!"

"Wow Babe @DangeRussWilson. Thank You for loving me the way you do!," she commented. "I didn’t have much growing up, but I can say I had a lot of love. That feeling made me feel like I could conquer the world. That’s how you make me feel. Like a little girl all over again. I love you so much!" 

As Ciara enjoyed the breathtaking view of the city, the Super Bowl winner told her, "We have a special date night tonight, me and you. A little dinner on top of Seattle....We'll have some dessert, and more dessert later. I love you."

The couple celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in July. They have two children together: four-year-old daughter Sienna and one-year-old son, Win.


A post shared by Ciara (@ciara)

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

Milwaukee 119, Indiana 109
Boston 140, Charlotte 129 (OT)
Atlanta 122, Detroit 104
Brooklyn 104, Washington 90
Miami 107, Orlando 90
Chicago 111, Toronto 108
New Orleans 107, Minnesota 98
Cleveland 99, Denver 87
L.A. Clippers 116, Portland 86

Columbus 4, Dallas 1
Buffalo 5, Tampa Bay 1
Calgary 5, NY Rangers 1
Carolina 4, Toronto 1
Florida 5, Arizona 3
Washington 7, Ottawa 5
St. Louis 3, Los Angeles 0

New Orleans 13, Seattle 10

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

Charlotte 111, Brooklyn 95
Philadelphia 115, Oklahoma City 103
Boston 107, Houston 97
Orlando 110, New York 104
Golden State 119, Sacramento 107
Lakers 121, Memphis 118

Boston 4, San Jose 3
Nashville 5, Minnesota 2
Detroit 6, Chicago 3
NY Islanders 2, Vegas 0

Atlanta 30, Miami 28
Cincinnati 41, Baltimore 17
Green Bay 24, Washington 10
NY Giants 25, Carolina 3
New England 54, NY Jets 13
Tennessee 27, Kansas City 3
LA Rams 28, Detroit 19
Las Vegas 33, Philadelphia 22
Arizona 31, Houston 5
Tampa Bay 38, Chicago 3
Indianapolis 30, San Francisco 18

Austin FC 2, Houston 1
New England 2, Orlando City 2 (Tie)

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(ATLANTA) -- Historically, very few African Americans have played polo, but that's changing in Atlanta.

"I've never ridden a horse outside of me starting this, let alone actually play polo, so I had to get over my fear of, like, thinking I would get kicked or that I will fall," Gia Tejeda, a junior economics major at Spelman College, told ABC News. "I just feel as though if you can learn how to navigate a horse and really master a sport that you can also, in the same sense, conquer the world, because it takes a lot to ride a horse."

Tejeda's three-woman team includes another Spelman student and one from Savanah College of Arts and Design. They're sponsored by Ride to the Olympics, a foundation that exposes urban students to equestrian sports.

"We break barriers," Kim Watson, CEO of Ride to the Olympics, told ABC News. "It was almost, like, tear-jerking it to see what it does to their confidence level."

The group was founded in 2017 by men's formal wear designer Miguel Wilson, who said he hoped one day of having its members qualify for the Olympics.

"The change of scenery, seeing the concrete turn into grass ... for a lot kids in the inner cities, going out to the country and just being able to spend a few hours with horses is life-changing," Wilson told ABC News.

Polo is very expensive to play and requires wide-open spaces that are hard to find in most cities.

"There are barriers that exist -- so it's about bridging that gap," Wilson said.

Even though comparatively fewer African Americans ride horses professionally now, Black jockeys played an important role in American history. Among the first 28 Kentucky Derby winners, 15 jockeys were Black. But zero Black riders participated from 1921 to 2000. And even fewer played polo.

In 2019, with the help of Wilson and Ride to the Olympics, Morehouse became the first historically Black college to create a polo club and be declared a member of the United States Polo Association.

"A lot of kids in these inner cities," Wilson said, "they know about football, they know about basketball, but who knows how many professional polo players we have walking around in northwest Washington, D.C., or in southwest Atlanta?"

Tejeda said she's "honestly still in awe" to have the opportunity to play the sport.

"When you think of polo, you don't think about Black kids playing the sport," she added. "So to be the pioneer in starting this is really amazing."

Added Wilson: "I mean, the Morehouse team was phenomenal. But to see these young ladies is extraordinary."

Female players composed about 40% of the U.S. Polo Association's membership in 2020, and the number of women's tournaments has grown steadily over five years, but no Black women currently are playing professionally. Uneku Atawodi, a Nigerian, is credited with being the first Black woman to reach such heights.

"I wasn't exposed to it, so that's generally the main reason" more Black Americans don't play polo, said AnaSimone Guimone, a junior who plays for Spelman College.

Ride to the Olympics recently teamed up with the Boys and Girls Foundation to create eight polo teams in urban areas for kids 8 to 18, and it hosts the Polo Classic in Atlanta, where student members and other Black players can play together.

"I wanted to create an environment where African Americans can go to a polo event that celebrates our culture," Wilson said. "Most polo events aren't about us."

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Harlem Globetrotters

As Snoop Dogg's 50th birthday week continues, he's now joined the Harlem Globetrotters for a unique project.

The hip hop icon has partnered with the legendary basketball team to star in a hilarious video that's being described as the first sitcom to be auctioned as an NFT.

In the trailer, Snoop, whose character is named Jermaine, is hired to work with the Globetrotters in his "Da Dogg Gone Gym." The caption reads, "When the Harlem Globetrotters hired trainers, something went terribly wrong...They hired the wrong brothas."

In the clip, Snoop proves he is extremely unqualified for the job, leading one player to say to the team, "I told you we need basketball trainers this time!" At one point, Jermaine brags to one of his assistants that they are being paid "50 cents a hour."

Harlem Globetrotters Vice President Sunni Hickman says in a statement about the collaboration, "It's been a dream come true for our Globetrotter players to work with the iconic Snoop Dogg. His passion for basketball and baller culture is second to none; to have him as part of our team has been super dope."

The sitcom, which is still in development, will be available on the crypto promotion site The "All the Way Up" rapper also will create a theme song for the show, which will drop during the Globetrotters' Spread the Game tour, kicking off December 26 in Pittsburgh.

As previously reported, Snoop celebrated his 50th birthday Wednesday night at his home in Inglewood, California, with a star-studded players ball attended by Jamie Foxx, Usher, T.I., Mike EppsTerence J and many more.

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:


LA Dodgers 11, Atlanta 2 (Atlanta leads series 3-2)

Atlanta 113, Dallas 87
Miami 137, Milwaukee 95
Golden State 115, LA Clippers 113

Columbus 3, NY Islanders 2 (OT)
Washington 4, New Jersey 1
Carolina 4, Montreal 1
San Jose 2 Ottawa 1
Florida 4, Colorado 1
Calgary 3, Detroit 0
Winnipeg 5, Anaheim 1
NY Rangers 3, Nashville 1
Vancouver 4, Chicago 1
Edmonton 5, Arizona 1

Cleveland 17, Denver 14

FSMU 55, Tulane 26

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Chris Brown and Kyrie Irving in 2014; Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

As many sports commentators are slamming Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving for refusing to be vaccinated, Chris Brown is coming to his defense.

Breezy, who has displayed his basketball skills in several celebrity games, is praising the NBA All-Star for his anti-vaccine stance.

"THE REAL HERO!!! I stand with my brother," the "Freaky Friday" singer wrote Wednesday in an Instagram Story over a picture of Irving. "WHOEVER DONT LIKE IT... Go live your damn life.. ITS HIS CHOICE AND A DAMN GOOD ONE. ALWAYS IN MY BROTHERS CORNER."

Kyrie, who won an NBA championship with LeBron James as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, has been banned by the Nets from playing because he has not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The team began the new season Tuesday night without Irving and lost 127-104 to the defending NBA champs, the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 29-year-old player explained his position on being vaccinated on October 14 in an Instagram Live session.

"It is reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated," Irving said. "I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice."

Before the Nets played Tuesday night, Charles Barkley blasted Irving for refusing to be vaccinated.

"First of all, you don't get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people," the NBA Hall of Famer said on TNT's Inside the NBA. "I got vaccinated. I can't wait to get the booster. You get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second. That's what bothers me about this whole thing."

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(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is out for the year with a hamstring injury, manager Dave Roberts announced. 

The All-Star suffered the injury while hitting into a double play in the bottom of the seventh inning of the team's 9-2 loss to Atlanta in game four of the National League Championship Series, Wednesday night. 
"Early indication is it's a grade two [strain], so I think that will be it from him," manager Dave Roberts said after the game. 

Turner did not speak to reporters after the game. 

The Dodgers season could also be over tonight. They are down 3-1 in the NLCS heading into tonight's game five in Los Angeles. 

The first three games of the series were all won by one run. Atlanta took the first took games at home winning 3-2 and 5-4, respectively. Once the series shifted to Los Angeles, the Dodgers won 6-5, using a four-run bottom of the eighth rally to give them the 5-4 lead. 

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(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon is out for the year after tearing his Achilles, the team announced on Thursday. 

Black suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday. 

The second-year player started all six games this season and recorded 34 tackles and one pass break up. 

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(NEW YORK) — The American Athletic Conference has announced the addition of six new schools to its conference. 

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Florida Atlantic University, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, The University of North Texas, Rice University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio will join the conference at a date to be determined. 

The six new schools will join the nine current members to bring the conference to 15 schools. The conference will compete as a 14 team league in football, and men’s and women’s basketball. 

“I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade. We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams."

The conference is replacing Cincinnati, Houston, and the University of Central Florida, which accepted invitations to join the Big 12. 

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(NEW YORK) -- As companies in the U.S. look to vaccinate staff en masse, some employers have achieved high rates of vaccination without major mandates -- professional sports leagues.

Several high-profile players have made headlines in recent weeks for not getting the shot, but by and large, the vast majority of their peers have -- at greater rates than the general public.

Around 67% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, leagues such as the NBA, NFL and MLS have rates greater than 90%, with the NHL and WNBA at over 99%.

Some leagues resorted to financial pressure to encourage vaccine uptake. But they also often deployed vaccination campaigns early that relied heavily on education and opportunities for players to connect with trusted medical experts, those involved in the efforts told ABC News.

"As far as the NHL is concerned, this is a very simple and very direct story -- you need to educate everybody as to what good public health practices are when you have a pandemic like this, and where someone who is ill can spread that disease to others at the workplace," Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, told ABC News.

Meaningful 'fireside chats'

Back in January, months before the recent season started and COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, the WNBA's players' union, WNBPA, started hosting panels with medical experts over Zoom to address players' questions about the pandemic.

"They were curious about everything related to their public health risk, their public health understanding of the pandemic and then specifically about the vaccines," one of the experts on the panel, Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist and research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital, told ABC News. "They just very earnestly wanted to understand and learn about the stuff that we were sharing."

Malaty Rivera said she has done these virtual "fireside chat sessions" with several companies and teams, from Patagonia to the MLB's Washington Nationals, and finds them to be very effective. In talking with the WNBA players, she and the other medical experts crafted a conversation that touched on how the vaccine approval process works and concerns around pregnancy and fertility.

"They applied what they understood and it shows by the vaccination rates," she said. "We know that it didn't fall on deaf ears."

Leagues including MLS and the NHL provided similar opportunities for players to connect with medical experts and ask questions.

For the NBA, an educational campaign was the "crux of our program," Dr. Leroy Sims, senior vice president of medical affairs for the league, told ABC News.

Starting in February, all 30 teams watched a 20-minute PowerPoint on vaccinations, and the NBA and its players' association made doctors and scientists available to talk with players as a team and one-on-one if desired. Sims often fielded questions on how the vaccines were developed and approved, the impact on performance and side effects.

"It was a really big effort, but it was the most appropriate thing to do -- for us to take that time with our players and our coaches," said Sims, who noted they did similar sessions with players' families, the National Retired Players Association and the league's referees. "No question was out of bounds."

Who was delivering that message was also important, Sims and Malaty Rivera said.

"The thing that allowed us to achieve the numbers that we have achieved, in part, is the relationship. The doctor-patient relationship is dynamic, it's engaging, it's a two-way street," said Sims, who is a former team physician and was with the players in last season's "bubble." "It's built on trust."

The panels for WNBA players featured female scientists who are women of color -- which Malaty Rivera said was also "meaningful" for the league's athletes, who are predominantly women of color.

"When you talk about science communication you have to think about the message, the messenger and who's receiving the message," she said.

No mandates, but pressure

Some leagues have required staff in close contact with players to be vaccinated. The athletes have yet to face similar mandates, though there have oftentimes been strong incentives to get the shot.

In the NFL, for instance, teams could face potential forfeits and lost paychecks for outbreaks among unvaccinated players. As of July 22, when the policy was announced, 75% of players were partially vaccinated. As of Oct. 7, a month into the regular season, 93.3% of NFL players were vaccinated, the league said.

Unvaccinated players in the NHL and NBA, which both kicked off their seasons this month, could also face docked pay if they are unable to play due to local COVID-19 regulations. Around 96% of NBA players have been vaccinated, with that number expected to climb, league Commissioner Adam Silver said this week. Still, a vocal minority has made headlines for not getting the shot, notably Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving. The decision makes him ineligible to play any home games at the Barclays Center, which under New York City regulations requires proof of vaccination for entry, and could potentially cost him millions of dollars.

The Nets decided to bench him entirely unless he gets vaccinated. He has not been allowed to practice with the team and did not play in the team's season opener Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Beyond the threat of financial losses, unvaccinated players may have to follow stricter COVID-19 protocols, such as more frequent testing and stricter masking and social distancing measures.

MLB relaxed some protocols for teams with at least 85% of players and coaches vaccinated; just a handful of the league's 30 teams failed to reach that threshold by the end of the regular season earlier this month.

Unvaccinated MLS players have a different set of COVID-19 protocols, including more frequent testing, and are not allowed to engage in any "high-risk behaviors," such as attending concerts indoors, Johnny Andris, deputy general counsel for the MLS Players Association, told ABC News. Over 95% of players are vaccinated.

"There were enough carrots involved such that the sticks weren't really needed," Andris said.

Recognizing 'outsized influence'

Other factors may have also helped boost vaccination rates among professional athletes.

MLS players were "very eager to get vaccinated," particularly after the pandemic disrupted the previous season, Andris said.

"MLS was just two or three weeks into the season before things shut down," he said. "The players went right into the 'bubble' tournament down in Orlando, played the rest of the season after that under these really strict protocols. ... I think that whole experience made guys want to get back to normal as soon as possible."

This year's season, which began in April, has seen breakthrough cases, as was expected, though teams haven't had to cancel or postpone games due to an outbreak, Andris said.

The realities of the job -- from frequent travel to close contact with other players while maskless -- may have also helped spur vaccination, NHLPA head Fehr said.

"In normal workplaces, you can engage in a number of practices. You can work remotely. You can wear masks. You can socially distance at the office, etc., etc.," he said. "You can't do that on the ice."

Athletes may have also embraced their standing as role models in getting the vaccine. The WNBA, which wrapped its postseason earlier this week, did a COVID-19 vaccine public service announcement with four players in April, partnered with the Black Women's Health Imperative to support their vaccination efforts and, like other leagues, held community vaccination sites ahead of the 2021 season.

"We saw our role together with the WNBPA as providing players with the best possible information about the vaccine, and I'm proud of and commend the players for their leadership in getting the vaccine while also serving as role models," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement to ABC News.

Silver, the NBA commissioner, told reporters this week he would like to see all players vaccinated in part because they have an "outsized influence on the rest of the public."

"I think it's a public service of sorts," he said, "particularly to young people who might not see the value of getting vaccinated."

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:


Houston 9, Boston 1 (Houston leads series 3-2)

Atlanta 9, LA Dodgers 2 (Atlanta leads series 3-1)

Chicago 94, Detroit 88
Charlotte 123, Indiana 122
Washington 98, Toronto 83
Philadelphia 117, New Orleans 97
Memphis 132, Cleveland 121
Minnesota 124, Houston 106
New York 138 Boston 134 (2OT)
San Antonio 123, Orlando 97
Utah 107, Oklahoma City 86
Denver 110, Phoenix 98
Sacramento 124, Portland 121

Philadelphia 6, Boston 3
St. Louis 3, Vegas 1

Appalachian St. 30, Coastal Carolina 27

Chicago 4, Cincinnati 3
CF Montreal 1 Orlando City 1 (Tie)
New York City FC 1, Atlanta 1 (Tie)
New England 3, DC United 2
Miami 3, Toronto FC 0
Los Angeles FC 3, FC Dallas 2
Minnesota 3, Philadelphia 2
Columbus 1, Nashville 1 (Tie)
LA Galaxy 3, Houston 0
Seattle 1, Colorado 1 (Tie)
Vancouver 3, Portland 2
San Jose 4, Austin FC 0

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