Recap: Hard Knocks Episode 2
To begin this week's recap, a couple of things need to be addressed regarding the whirlwind of drama that has been circling the east side of the Bay Area. It first started on Wednesday August 7th, the very next morning after the first episode of Hard Knocks aired. Reports had come out that Brown would be out for some period of time with frostbite on his feet from not wearing the necessary protective gear while using a cryotherapy machine. In the following days, reports had begun to surface about Brown going “radio silent” and not responding to any calls from the team. Even after all of that drama, more reports came out about Antonio Brown threatening to retire if not allowed to wear his helmet that he had used in the first 9 years of his career. I’m almost left speechless after the start of Brown's career in Oakland, however it doesn't surprise me. In my last article, I referred to Antonio Brown as a hard working athlete with the mentality of a reality television star and well, as if on cue, he showed us exactly why he's earned this reputation. I hardly took these reports seriously and couldn’t have imagined AB sitting out because he didn’t get to wear the helmet of his choice. I doubt he would have turned down both the 30 million guaranteed over the next two seasons and the opportunity to do what he loves. Even as the wildcard he is, this seemed like a stretch.
The very beginning of the episode started on a high note, the cameras bring us into a team meeting with Gruden at the podium. He starts off talking casually and prepping the team with what he wants for the upcoming week and without any notice he flips a switch, he screams “I WANT BETTER FUCKING EXECUTION”. Once the dramatic music queued in, I, myself was ready to jump onto the practice field and give it my all. Along with that I loved the on the field shots of Gruden, one in particular stood out to me. During a team scrimmage, backup quarterback Nathan Peterman was struggling, and in an attempt to coach him up Gruden used a less-than conventional method. While practically whispering, Gruden imitates Peterman and his quiet mannerisms followed by saying “there's gotta be something in there” and proceeding to throw a couple punches into his pads. Gruden is entertainment gold and should be mic’d up for nearly every game.
This week the usage of rookies was far better as they focused primarily on undrafted free agent and hometown hero Keelan Doss, Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, and 4th rounder Maxx Crosby. One of the better parts included both Hunter Renfrow and Maxx Crosby singing in front of the whole team; a sort of “hazing” tradition. Renfrow gave a cringe worthy rendition of “Lean on Me” that I found slightly amusing. Maxx Crosby followed him up by going with “Buy U a Drank” by T Pain, besides botching a few lines he actually did pretty good and easily won over the team with it. While "Buy U a Drank" may be generalized as more of a soft song, Maxx Crosby is far from being soft. During the first preseason game against the Rams, Crosby went to punch the ball out and pretty much shattered his hand. Instead of sitting out, the defensive end from Eastern Michigan ran to the locker room to get it in a cast and to finish the game. Let me remind you that this is a PRESEASON GAME. I think I can speak for everyone when I saw that Maxx Crosby is easily becoming the fan favorite. He's already a likable guy that just became even more likable by showing his love for the game and his impulse to do whatever it takes.
I thought that the producers did a phenomenal job of handling all of the Antonio Brown drama. They applied it where it was necessary and didn't really segment much time strictly for it except at the beginning when they were talking to AB and his trainer. Aside from that, there were some moments with the press conferences and Gruden/Carr getting asked about it, but that's it.
Lastly, for the parts that I liked (pretty much the entire episode), I am back on the Jonathon Abrams hype train. He is not shown nearly as much and when he is, you can tell he toned it down. Some people get nervous on camera and try to do to much to impress/entertain and I think it’s apparent that’s what happened here. During his conversation with former Oakland great Charles Woodson, he seemed much more relaxed and level-headed and not as much in your face.
Josh Jacobs was yet again missing in action but this time we at least have some reason why. Jacobs tweeted out after this past episode aired and said “If you wondering why I'm not on hardknocks it’s because I be hiding from them”. However, I'm still shocked there has been absolutely nothing on him but I guess we will have to wait another week to see if he gets some of the spotlight or is forced into it for that matter. This is my only complaint worth noting in this episode.
This week's Hard Knocks episode didn’t disappoint, as it cleared up much of the problems with the first one. There were plenty of on-field shots, the Antonio Brown drama was handled nicely from the standpoint of not letting it overtake the entire show, Gruden continues to entertain, and Maxx Crosby gives us the much needed football guy. Next week I better see Josh Jacobs, and I hope they continue to maintain their ability to not turn this into the Antonio Brown reality show when he is back on camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love AB and some drama, but it has to be in moderation.