Image courtesy of YouTube.com
MY IMPRESSIONS OF THE LONGTIME HBO SERIES SHOWING THE RIGORS OF NFL TRAINING CAMPS, FEATURING L.A.’S RESURRECTED PRO FOOTBALL TEAM
Like every other football fan in the greater Southern California area, I was looking forward to watching HBO’s “Hard Knocks”, depicting training camps of various NFL teams and featuring what players – undrafted free agents as well as the big names – go through in preparing for the rigorous 16-game season.
I have enjoyed previous seasons of the show, watching the coaches working hard under the always high pressure to win and making the tough decisions as to who to cut, going through the worst part of any coach’s job:
Telling a player that his dreams of playing in the National Football League are over, the “Turk” coming into his room or standing at the door to the facility and telling him,
“Coach wants to see you. And bring your playbook (or iPad or tablet these days).”
I’ve always felt bad for those guys whose football careers – at least for that moment – ended in that head coach’s office.
I tuned in to the first episode of “Hard Knocks” and wasn’t disappointed as it followed the formula of past seasons of the series, players – and head coach Jeff Fisher in this case – chilling before reporting for training camp, one player, Alex Ogletree, being filmed holding his newborn son.
Fisher showed that he was no joke as within the first twenty minutes of the episode, he cut wide receiver Deon Long for breaking a rule against females in the dorms at U.C. Irvine, where the Rams players were staying, later stating to his team in a strongly worded fashion that a 7-9 (the team’s record last year) or an 8-8 season, or even a 10-6 season, was absolutely unacceptable.
The rest of the installment was pretty uneventful in my view, ending with the beginning of the team’s Family Day and open practice (which I attended) at what will be their home for the next three years until their state of the art palace is built in Inglewood, the Coliseum.
Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q visiting the Rams’ camp on “Hard Knocks”
My biggest thing that I’m hoping for in this series, which runs for the next four Tuesday nights, is this:
When the 32 players (out of 85 on the current roster) are released by the Rams in order to get to the mandated 53 – which will be undoubtedly be shown as far as some of those cuts – I really hope that it will be Fisher telling those unfortunate guys that their career is over, and not some assistant as I saw with the Kansas City Chiefs in an earlier season of the show.
The Baltimore Ravens, in the first year of Hard Knocks, did it the right way as it was head coach Brian Billick doing the cutting, as did the Dallas Cowboys where we saw not only head coach Chan Gailey telling the players they were gone, but also owner/general Manager Jerry Jones, which I felt was quite classy and increased my respect for that Cowboys owner.
Members of the Rams Cheerleaders, along with the team’s mascot, attending the premiere of “Hard Knocks” in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
As opposed to then-Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, who had an assistant tell the players they were cut, which I felt was cowardly as if anyone is going to break the terrible news to a young guy that his football dreams weren’t going to come true, it needs to be the head coach.
I certainly hope it’s not some “Turk” doing that unpleasant deed for the Rams, and if the way Long was cut is any indication, Fisher will be a stand-up guy in that aspect and break the bad news himself.
The bottom line as for my impression of “Hard Knocks”:
Particularly if you don’t follow football and are interested in how things work on an NFL team.
But die-hard fans will enjoy this, too.
More filming of Rams practice by the “Hard Knocks” crew. Photo courtesy of latimes.com