Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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7 Signs Sports Culture Has Changed

The following 7 signs indicate a changing of the sports landscape. Some changes are more significant than others, but all serve as reminders that the good ol' days can’t last forever. Let's get started.

1) Athlete's Personal Lives Are Big News
Social media has provided the opportunity for fans to be up-close and personal (maybe a little too close) to their favorite sports stars. Two months ago, ESPN showed a segment on Amar'e Stoudemire's wine bath. To take things a bit further, the ESPN correspondent jumped into the tub with Stoudemire to give his personal take on the wine bath. Too much.
It's a good idea to connect athletes to the fans, but this goes a little too far. Such as "reporting" LeBron James' visit to the dentist.

2) No More Bo Jacksons
Bo Jackson
Due to the demand of keeping athletes in a designated sport, this atmosphere makes it hard for athletes to transition and even excel in different sports simultaneously. Players are able to accomplish this in college such as, Jameis Winston (baseball/football at Florida State), but to perform at a high-level in the professional field is not an easy task today.
Deion Sanders
Many people may have forgotten, but Deion Sanders is the only person to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series, while also running track. That's a true multi-sport athlete.
Multi-talented athletes could realistically play multiple sports at a high level. However, the specialization and time commitment required to have success in just one professional sport all but eliminates the possibility of anyone playing two.

3) Digital Trash Talk
If you're familiar with ESPN's 30-for-30 series, you may have watched Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (A film that explores the rivalry between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks). This episode is most likely in my top 5 for the "30-for-30" series. The film shows how Reggie Miller did not back down to John Starks, Anthony Mason, or even Spike Lee on the sideline.
Reggie Miller and Spike Lee (wearing the orange longsleeve and Knicks jersey)
If any player today re-enacted the verbal performance Reggie Miller put on display during the New York series in the 90's, I would be very surprised. Today, most athletes take their beef to Twitter instead of doing their talking on-the-field. After all, athletes are often penalized for their conduct on the field.
The great thing about trash-talking in the days before social media was it generally had to be done in the flesh. Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali—their in-person big talk helped define each of them. For players today, it's just not the same.
4) Baseball Cards Are Irrelevant

Remember when you used to brag about having a player's rookie card? Those days are long gone. The disinterest with collecting cards has greatly declined, as well as its value. With the vast array of video game selections, younger sports fans have a reason to turn a blind eye to the thrill of trading sports cards.

5) Memes Are The New Blooper Reels

Wishful Thinking in Dallas? (MeloDrama 2014)

Since the Internet is a thing, and since Photoshop is a thing, no longer can a player trip on a basketball court without the world mercilessly making fun of him.
Baylor Football LB Shawn Oakman
The sports world is definitely not immune from the meme craze. We've seen players such as Shawn Oakman, Brandon Knight, and recently Tony Parker, become victims to the meme-driven social media culture.
I have to admit, most of these memes are pretty entertaining.

6) Unproven Rookies Lead Jersey Sales
Shortly after he was drafted in 2014, Johnny Manziel’s Cleveland Browns jersey led the NFL in sales for a time. When an unproven rookie can generate that level of popularity without having taken one snap in a professional game, you know times are changing.
Johnny Manziel

Manziel was a star in college, but people who bought his pro jersey did it largely for one reason: hype. We now live in a world where hype can, and often does, trump actual performance.

7) Selfies Are The New Autographs


An autograph from your favorite player used to be the Holy Grail in sports. Now, it seems physical access to players is more limited, plus memorabilia dealers have left a sour taste in some athletes’ mouths. With autographs losing their luster, selfies have swooped in to pick up the slack.
Case in point: Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens recently posed for a selfie with a young fan during a stoppage in play. Instead of a signed puck in a glass case, the fan will likely preserve that selfie for years to come.

Monday, April 27, 2015

You Live to Fight Another Day (Dallas Mavericks)

Last night, the Dallas Mavericks were on the brink of getting swept by the Houston Rockets. Thank goodness J.J. Barea kept the Mavs' energy level up the entire night to move on to Game 5.
You would think the Mavericks would shut it down after being down 3 games, riddled with the injury of Chandler Parsons, and the sudden absence of Rajon Rondo from the Mavericks lineup. However, Dallas put all the pressure on their back and rose to the challenge.
Coach Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo

I, personally, believe the Rockets took it easy on the Mavericks in order to close out the series in their hometown of Houston this Tuesday. One thing for certain is that Mavs fans can breathe a sigh of relief after avoiding being a victim of the dreaded, playoff series sweep.
A major part of the Mavericks' new energy level can be attributed to the dismissal of Rajon Rondo. Bad blood between Coach Rick Carlisle and Rondo has affected the chemistry of the Mavericks' success. Due to both individuals possessing an NBA championship, this most likely created a "proud" energy among the two. Although Rondo is a champion on the player level, he has found it very difficult to buy into Carlisle's "championship-formula" on the coaching level.
"Mavs fans can breathe a sigh of relief..."
From the outside-looking-in, the Mavericks still have a chance with Rondo out of the picture. The only problem is our matchups. Dwight Howard has outplayed Tyson Chandler every night of this series. James Harden will always be an issue against our guards; although, Al-Farouq Aminu did a great job on defense last night. Lastly, Corey Brewer and Josh Smith are willing to be the X-factor in this series.
Al-Farouq Aminu
Dallas has met a Houston team that can go toe-to-toe with them in every position. If this series extends to Game 6 or 7, Houston may need to close this out as soon as possible. Dallas is playing desperate, which is bad news for the Rockets.
Go Mavs!
Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Friday, April 17, 2015

Chris Paul: The Time is Now (NBA)

The 2015 NBA Playoffs will be one of the most defining postseason years for Chris Paul. He's probably the only player with more to gain and even more to lose. Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant missed the playoffs, but their absence doesn't take away from what they've contributed to the game. Although Wade and Bryant have rings, Carmelo is still in his grace period with New York as he returns from his surgery.

"Clippers basketball is at a level many people my age have never seen. Seriously, never."
As for Chris Paul, the time is now to distinguish himself among the greats who win, instead of those who don’t. Paul’s legacy hangs before his eyes as he presses toward the NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Clippers. His singular, extraordinary career offers no protection from a legacy of "what-ifs". Only what he does from this point forward will matter. From the nature of Paul's mature, "floor general" attitude, it seems his interest in individual awards has long dissipated.

The pain from 2014’s untimely playoff exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder still burns. This year’s Clippers team has a decidedly more serious edge. The team has been successful in allowing the title of "Lob City" to slowly wither away. Also, this season has been free of last year’s Donald Sterling drama.

Clippers basketball is at a level many people my age have never seen. Seriously, never. The focus of the 2015 Clippers can mainly be attributed to the intensity and drive of Chris Paul. We are all too familiar with the rage of Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant, but Chris Paul's rage is somewhat different.
aul is one of the few players in the game who can offer empathy, as well as ferocity on the court. In order to win championships, you need players like this. Especially players who hold the position of the floor general.

This past March, Paul’s fire scorched Deandre Jordan several minutes later in a moment that will live in Vine forever. With the score tied at 87 (against the Portland Trailblazers) and 1.7 seconds remaining on the shot clock—2.8 on the game clock—Paul got off a shot, and Jordan grabbed the rebound under the basket with a second to spare. Jordan thought the game buzzer had sounded, sending the teams to overtime, so he didn’t shoot the ball.


He was wrong. Paul was livid.

"Shoot the ------- ball!" Paul screamed, flailing as he jumped up and down. On the way back to the huddle, Paul shouted at Jordan, who had no response. After the game, Paul clarified that he was angered about the situation, not towards Deandre Jordan.
"The crowd roared, but come on, Chris Paul has always performed on this level."
With a captain such as Paul on your team, there is no excuse but to enjoy playing with this guy. I am a Chris Paul fan and will gladly say he's been my favorite player since his rookie year in the NBA. If he ever wins a championship, his ring will be the most deserved for a player of his skill and character. Chris Paul had an admirable season, but it was overshadowed by Curry, Harden, and Westbrook (which is understandable).

I can also point out that Chris Paul's elite play has become the norm for spectators everywhere. Recently, Paul performed a dribble move—a one-handed fake bounce pass tossed several feet in front that spins back to him. The crowd roared, but come on, Chris Paul has always performed on this level.

Los Angeles Clippers v New Jersey Nets

I'm sure Paul doesn't fret over the MVP Award noise. His eyes are focused on something greater. Something which people will always remember when they bring up the Los Angeles Clippers during Paul's era. A championship.

The time is now for Chris Paul and the Clippers. They'll have their hands full against the seasoned, San Antonio Spurs.

'Til next time.

Re-Fueling the I-45 Rivalry (NBA)

A couple of days after the Dallas Mavericks acquired Chandler Parsons from the Houston Rockets last summer, I submitted a blog post titled Fueling the I-45 Rivalry. Months later, here we are. Dallas versus Houston in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

I've never been more relieved for the Mavs to play Houston instead of San Antonio, because the Spurs are on a mission to repeat. This well-oiled machine would have chewed-and-spit back out the Mavericks before Dallas fans could realize what happened. But, Mavericks fans everywhere can breathe now that we're taking on the Rockets.

Before you throw jabs or anything about Dallas, I want you to know I do not have a problem with the Rockets. I just think they're beatable. Well, especially beatable by the Mavericks.

Dallas has had a rocky season, barely finishing with a 50-win record. Suffering from the injuries of Devin Harris and Chandler Parsons will affect the Mavs, but this series will come down to whether or not the Mavericks stop James Harden. I'm pretty sure everyone knows Harden is in the MVP race, so I'm expecting him to "enhance his resume" versus Dallas.This year is very reminiscent of Houston's dominance in the '94-'95 NBA champion seasons. Houston is not going to back down.

This series is calling all Dallasites and Houstonians everywhere to side with their city's respective teams.

The matchup begins this Saturday.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Making Moves (Dallas Cowboys)

Before the surprising departure of DeMarco Murray, I mentioned two choices the Cowboys could make in regards to Murray's future with Dallas.

Well, if you haven't been hiding under a rock for the month of March...Murray is now a Philadelphia Eagle. In addition, the Cowboys have picked up Darren McFadden to secure the RB position for now.

Darren McFadden and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones

Do you really think the Dallas Cowboys are going to ride themselves into the playoffs with Darren McFadden? He's a decent running back, but we really need consistency in our backfield. Murray was a fumble machine this past year. I guess his season performance in yards was enough to blind us from really focusing on his fumbling tendencies. McFadden's potential seems to pick up where DeMarco's fumble-itis left off.

Today (and this is not an April Fool's joke), the Dallas Cowboys announced they will restructure Tony Romo's contract. You know, I expected his contract to be restructured before Murray left. This makes me focus on Brandon Carr refusing to take a pay cut. I understand guys may not want to accept a pay cut; but when it's for the greater good, it may turn out to be a great decision in the long run.
Florida State QB Jameis Winston

Since Romo has helped increase the salary cap, Cowboys fans can have high hopes for the front office picking up a decent rookie running back, quarterback, or even cornerback. I've always voiced my preference for Jameis Winston in the Cowboys lineup one day, but it may be impossible due to the Cowboys' high-numbered draft picks.

I'm glad the Cowboys front office is really turning this organization around for the better. We should expect to see more of this positive energy within the Cowboys organization as the season approaches.

Go Cowboys!

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Friday, March 20, 2015

And Then There Were None (NCAA)

Day one of March Madness is in the books. Upsets, upsets, upsets! These three words pretty much sum up what transpired on yesterday for Texas teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Click to enlarge
If you weren't aware, there are actually 0 teams representing the state of Texas in March Madness right now. I anticipated the losses of Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin (mainly because SFA is my alum's rival). Oh, and Texas since I predicted UT getting sent home in the 3rd round. However,  I cannot say the same for Baylor and SMU.

Judging from my bracket below, you can see I was a victim of "Texas bias". Baylor AND SMU making it to the Elite Eight?! Yea, I guess you can say I had high hopes.

It was unfortunate that both teams fell to underdog opponents. I can only imagine how long the bus/airplane ride back home feels. However, these teams should be back in the tourney next year. SMU lost a few starters and managed to win their conference this past year. I look forward to the Mustangs readjusting and making a lengthier run in the 2016 tourney.

Click to enlarge
Fans of the Bears have a lot of positives going into next season, mainly because they're only losing two seniors. Baylor has always been a tough competitor. Plus, there will be a chip on their shoulder as they look for redemption in 2016.

Let's just be thankful I didn't predict one of those Texas teams to win it all.

So far, I have four brackets in total (three on ESPN Tourney Challenge; one on CBS Sports that you see below).

Surprisingly, I was sold on the idea of Kentucky (and even Duke) winning the championship. But I have a good feeling that Wisconsin may be the team to surprise everyone.

At the end of the day, it's March Madness. Anything can happen (like the goal-tending call on SMU

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Farewell, DeMarco

DeMarco Murray made his final decision today, signing a contract with Dallas Cowboys' rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Three months ago, I wouldn't have believed this would occur in the off-season. Especially after Murray's great season in clinching the rushing title for the 2014-2015 NFL season.

As Cowboys' fans, we must move forward. It is perfectly fine to feel disappointed at the organization for today's situation. However, this is what the organization asked for. They played "chicken" with DeMarco. And let's just say, Murray swerved out of the way to land in Philadelphia.

The current team is now (not surprisingly) dismantled at the running back position. Plus, I have a scary feeling the Dallas Cowboys may continue to pursue Adrian Peterson. First, I thought we had a good chance at drafting or securing a decent backup quarterback; but now, the running game is our main priority. I'm pretty sure the Cowboys organization will soon realize how much Murray meant to the offense's success. And to make matters worse, we will face Murray and the Eagles' spread offense twice in the regular season.

If the Cowboys' dominance in their regular season match-ups gave them an edge over Philly, they need to think again because this Eagles team has a brand new face. I expect for the Cowboys-Eagles rivalry to live up to its hype and even more next season. Hopefully the Cowboys will make great improvements in personnel, because Philadelphia is thinking about the playoffs as we speak!

Until next time.

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

The Evolution of Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook: a guy I have constantly joked about in regard to ball-hog tactics and selfish play (sound like a young Kobe?) has slowly grown on me. The former UCLA guard never struck me as the type to carry a team one day. But now the time has come. Better yet, Russell Westbrook's time has come.

Currently, the league's reigning MVP Kevin Durant has been sidelined for most of the NBA regular season. Meanwhile, Westbrook has gladly taken over the reins for Durant and stepped up in a major way for his team. In the past, Westbrook was known for his bad decision-making on the court. Some said Westbrook didn't pass enough. Others said Westbrook shot the ball in traffic too much.

Russell's on-the-court performances have refuted these claims. Westbrook's current numbers are: 27.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 8.3 assists.

Here's what the Washington Post had to say about Russell Westbrook's MVP-esque performances:

I believe last month's NBA All Star Game was the landscape Westbrook needed. He walked away with the All Star MVP trophy posting 41 points (one point shy of the NBA All Star Game Record for Points). Russell also walked away with an attitude of becoming a better leader.

Think about it. If this guy can lead a team of superstars (it's an All Star team), what's stopping him from leading a team of decent role players?

The simple answer is Russell Westbrook. This same focus can apply to our lives: we are the ONLY people holding ourselves back from reaching our full potential.

Russ has dug deep and found his untapped potential. Now, I'm not going to say Westbrook will abandon his ball-hogging ways and immature decisions forever; but I feel as if he actually "gets it" now. OKC needs him and he has rose to the challenge.

He knows he must carry this team since Durant is out. Plus, when Durant comes back...we can arguably say the team is now Westbrook's. And you know, I don't have a problem with it. Durant most likely wouldn't have a problem with it, either. Especially when Westbrook is creating more shots for his teammates. This team has the formula for making it to the NBA Playoffs this year.

Currently at the #9 spot of the playoff picture (or at the house in April), I look forward to seeing Russell Westbrook and OKC fight their way into the playoffs. This team really deserves to be there.

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

QTNA: The Status of Dez and DeMarco?

In a post from last month, I received a question regarding the Cowboys (specifically the status of Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray). I'll try my best to answer as thorough as possible without too much fluff.

 "Who can we expect to replace Demarco Murray in the backfield, and what will come of Dez Bryant?"
- Alex A.

The noise of the NFL post-season has gradually withered away, gearing fans up for another off-season of trades, contract extensions, and filled coaching positions. As for the Dallas Cowboys, there are many fans (such as myself) who have high expectations for the 'Boys in the future.

Recently, the organization has placed a franchise tag on Dez Bryant. This means: Bryant will receive a one-year contract with the Cowboys in order to prevent him from signing with another team as an unrestricted free agent.

Bryant put on a great performance this past season with the Cowboys (arguably one of his best). The new energy and young receiving core of the Cowboys really put Bryant in a position to either "put up or shut up." The leadership and numbers of Mr. Bryant spoke volumes to the offensive performance. I applaud the Cowboys for placing the tag on Bryant; although, this only solves half the issue.

On the other side of the spectrum, DeMarco Murray will test free agency this off-season. I'm pretty sure the other 31 NFL teams are getting their offers ready for Murray. Again, the Cowboys have placed themselves in an undesirable contract situation. This stems from the big payday Tony Romo received two off-seasons ago. If the Front Office expected Murray to have a breakout season, maybe Romo wouldn't have been provided with his "Super-Bowl quarterback" salary (just a thought).

Murray is arguably the best thing running for the Cowboys since Emmitt Smith. DeMarco's field vision, use of the offensive line, and ability to pass block rank him in close proximity to Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. If Murray performs another great season such as 2014-2015, I wouldn't be surprised if the media places him in the elite RB category.

Speaking of Adrian Peterson, Vikings and Cowboys fans should keep their eyes and ears peeled back this off-season. Peterson has voiced his dissent with Minnesota and has expressed to Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones his desire to play in Dallas. To be honest, I don't think Peterson is coming to town.

An excerpt from Washington Post regarding Adrian Peterson

Two things can come from this situation:

1) Cowboys let Murray sign with another team; Gamble by pursuing Adrian Peterson (who may be rusty since his league suspension); find themselves in another hole when Dez Bryant needs new contract.

2) Keep Murray by any means necessary; Possibly negotiate a pay cut for Romo, if possible.

Both scenarios are risky, but I believe pursuing Peterson is the greater risk versus scenario #2. Adrian Peterson has been away from the game for an amount of time. He also has the reputation for being one of the highest paid running backs in the league. I believe the Cowboys would be shooting themselves in the foot for AP; but, I also understand it's all business at the end of the day. I look forward to seeing how this running back fiasco will turn out.

Keep DeMarco.

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

(Five) Most Annoying People in Rec Sports

The (Five) Most Annoying People in Rec Sports

Recreational sports can be really enjoyable. The people? Maybe not so much.

I recently reminisced with a friend about the times in college we played intramural flag football, basketball, and softball. Of course we bragged about ourselves, whose team was better, why so-and-so shouldn't have won the championship, etc.

Then the conversation took a turn toward endless laughter as we discussed the most annoying people we played against. We continued to call out a laundry list of names and how these people affected the games (arguing, fighting, whining, etc.).

We can all relate to some annoying players, whether it's rec sports or professional leagues. The point is: these annoying people need to be stoppped.

1. The Johnny Football Wannabe

This guy gets all his moves from watching the NFL. He feels like every rec sports football game is a showcase of his talent. Somehow, this guy makes almost every play last 10 to 15 seconds.

The Wannabe's signature move is to drop back and scan the field, only to look like a pro. Do not be fooled. He has no intention of throwing the ball, and often decides to gain cheap yards because it "looks good."

2. The Victim (D. Wade Type)

Next, we have The Victim. This guy is primarily on the basketball court throwing himself into a pack of players looking for a foul. Come on, man. It's obvious everyone knows what he's doing. Let D. Wade and Ginobili remain as the masters of flop-ology. The Victim also overuses the "call your own foul" rule and even over-steps his bounds to serve as a psuedo-referee.

You WILL see this guy. He's the one who waits to see if his shot will go in before calling a foul. Plus, he will yell "And one!!!" so loud to make it as if he's letting you off the hook for "fouling" him. Just give it up, man.

3. The Wrecking Ball (Ron Artest Type)

They go for truck sticks on the flag football field, jab their forearms in your sides on the basketball court. These guys are just plain dirty. Like seriously, who "goes for the knees" in a flag football game?! The type of player treats every matchup as if it's a UFC fight.

Chill, bro.

4. The Complainer (Tom Brady Type)

This guy will always try to make things go his way. Whether it's the spot of the ball, the number of downs, or the exact score...this guy WILL argue you down to the wire. If you're not sure you've encountered this type of player, have you ever diffused a possible argument by saying:"It's not that serious man, ya'll can have the ball." If yes, then you've met him.

It's not that serious, Tom.
You can have the ball next season.
This guy almost always has his hands on his head  or hips with a distressed and/or confused look on his face. They are truly the worst people to play with/against.

5. The "My Bad" Guy (Russell Westbrook Type)
"The kind of guy that plays like he's in a video game. You hold turbo for the whole game, make zero passes, and shoot fast break/transition 3-pointers going 3 for 28 from the field" - my friend, Josh Pegram 

This guy plays as if he has absolutely no sports IQ at all. He tries to master ALL of the skills on video games and bring them to the court. This type of guy is a cancer to teams everywhere. They will shoot you out of a game. Look at you in the eyes when you're wide open and decide to take on a triple team. Even shoot half-court jumpers to show you his "range" on the first possession.

This guy usually will create an impromptu one-on-one matchup when there's 8 other people on the court. And most of the time when he finally feels he has messed up, you will see him tap his chest twice with the utmost sincerity saying: "My bad, bro. I got you on the next one."

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kobe Bryant's Muse (NBA)

Watch Kobe Bryant's Muse

If you missed this weekend's premiere of Kobe's latest documentary, Kobe Bryant's Muse, I suggest basketball fans and those who enjoy sports docs (even if he's not your favorite player) to take a look at this film.

Muse does a great job in its different approach to the world of sports documentaries. Instead of interviewing people associated with Mr. Bryant, the film solely grasps its content from its most credible source, Kobe. With this approach, Kobe is able to express the raw details of his life, family, struggles, and career.

From his isolated childhood to becoming one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history, Kobe opens up in this film unlike anything we've seen from him. His words paint a vivid, moving picture on a canvas, giving us insight on where his journey will take him in the future.

Something to Think About

The atmosphere surrounding Kobe following his last two season ending injuries have left his fans in a suspended state. Some fans want to embrace the new era of basketball elite, while others want to hold on to the era of Kobe, Dirk, and Kevin Garnett. Such as those summer camp days as a kid, all good things must come to an end.

Kobe has come to grips with his awaiting lifestyle after retirement. And fans should, as well. I can admit I would like to see Kobe come back for two more years of action, but it's very unlikely. One thing for sure is that I will keep the Kobe legacy alive.


Watch Kobe Bryant's Muse

Follow this blog on Twitter: @214_Manuscript 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Late Post

It's been over a month and a half. No post from the TwoOneFour Manuscript. "Why so long?", you ask. Well, the awful outcome of the Cowboys vs. Packers game is the reason.

I've disbanded from football talk and sports for over a month, due to the "non-catch".

My honest opinion: Dez caught it.

But alas, the football season is over. The Patriots have been crowned champs. And we await to hear the resulting decisions regarding Deflate-gate.