Prior to the airing of the second "Hard Knocks" episode Tuesday night, a couple NFL beat writers pointed to a tweet from a senior producer on the show saying this episode was his favorite ever. Presumably that means from the entire "Hard Knocks" franchise, as unlikely as it seems. There's no denying there was some damn impressive documentary work going on. I'm sure a veteran producer cares more about that than, say, stupid dick jokes and cheerleader montages that would amuse an idiot like me. Getting the footage from Chad Johnson and Joe Philbin's meeting into the episode two days after it happened is a feat unto itself.
But oh man, was last night difficult to watch at times from a casual fan perspective. You could argue that that doesn't matter because it's HBO and ratings matter less than they would on a non-premium cable outlet. That's fine. Depress the hell out of your audience right out of the gate by having Joe Philbin talk about his dead son. But I wonder what the show will do to keep things interesting now that Chad is gone. Judging from Episode 2, it means a lot of Lauren Tannehill along with Les Brown's lady friend. Not the worst tack in the world, I guess, but we'll see how much mileage you can get out of them.
On to the highlights.
We're treated to an array of rookies receiving silly haircuts before the real payoff: back-up center Josh Samuda arrives at a team meeting with a dong shaved into his head. Being the wettest of all blankets, Joe Philbin is decidedly unamused.
"They've got dicks for hair. There goes the season."
We find out that David Garrard messed up his knee watching his kid swim in the family pool. We also see Silky's wife nail the kid in the face with a football. A rough go for the Garrard men.
In a last hurrah before ruining what was left of his career, Chad Johnson is shown getting into it in practice with corner Sean Smith. Chad couches the art of pass coverage in terms of lovemaking, which is a nice bit of foreshadowing. Chad also gets knocked to the ground and tumbles over on his head, an act that doesn't really presage anything so much as it's just hilarious.
Offensive line coach Jim Turner was one of the few pleasant additions and may actually contribute worthwhile fodder in future installments. The Dolphins cheerleader squad's "Call Me Maybe" video that made the Internet rounds over the off-season is played for the team. Turner is, all, HEY REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE BORED IN THIS MEETING THEN YOU SAW CHEERLEADERS AND GOT BONERS!? Except a little more surliness and cussing.
It starts raining during the Buccaneers-Dolphins preseason contest. This leads to a tortuously brief shot of soaked cheerleaders, followed by Lauren Tannehill saying that she's SUCH A TROOPER, YOU GUYS for supporting her man in less than perfect weather. Jim Turner also cusses some more. Haha, fuckin'.
Just Lauren Tannehill and Jake Long's wife laughing at their men 'cause their team sucks at football.
Mike Sherman giving these young tight ends what-for in front of the rest of the offense. He would totally cut you if he were the general manager and not just the guy who coordinates the offense. Sherman is actually asked to speak again during the halftime of the preseason game and manages a beautifully uninspired, "uh, we need more big plays in the second half. Getting the ball in the end zone would be nice." He and Philbin are quite the motivators.
This doesn't exactly count as a highlight, but I would just like to express my towering disappointment in the show going from gratuitous cheerleader montage in the first episode to dramatic ping pong clip the following week. What's that? The producers don't particularly care about the demands of a stupid blogger who is just slicing up their work into easily digestible chunks for his blog? Have it your way.
They could have Andy Reid and Joe Philbin together sharing stories of their lost children for 60 minutes and it still wouldn't be as depressing as the sight of Peter King talking to Jeff Ireland. ALL THE METEORS. Of course, Peter King offers Jeff the most generic, easy to deflect question he can muster. "Name five things more concerning than bad hotel coffee. You can't."
I want more like this!
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