I love 'Hard Knocks'.
If the Jets were not on the show, I wouldn't be watching (unlike Tom Brady, who you may have heard this week said he wasn't watching the show because the Jets were on it, and he "hates the Jets"), but only because I don't usually have HBO.
I've had HBO in the past - that allowed me to watch the Chiefs and Cowboys seasons...I think I missed Jacksonville...and I saw Cincinnati last year when the NFL Network replayed the season.
But for the Jets, I had to get HBO...I had to watch the show live.
And there's another show I would go out of my way to watch...if it existed.
Maybe it's only because of my background in the TV business, but I would absolutely love a "Making of 'Hard Knocks'" show. I think it would be awesome television.
The way it works, to the best of my knowledge, is that the show is put together during the day Wednesday, then turned around and aired 10 o'clock that night. I would love to see that Wednesday process - I bet it's out of control.
Especially last week's episode, when the Monday Night Football game had to be turned around for Wednesday. This week, with the less-than-scintillating Panthers game from Saturday night, probably wasn't as down-to-the-wire. I was a little worried when they got into the preseason game at 10:37pm - it was not that great a game that it was going to last the rest of the show. Then it occurred to me that the game was Saturday - that left a few more days to fill the rest of the show.
Sure enough, after 13 minutes spent on the game (which still seemed like a lot), they squeezed in the Nick Mangold contract and the cutting of Adam Tadish.
I'd watch a show involving how those decisions are made and how it translates into an hour-long show...especially one as packed as this episode:
*From a pure fan perspective, it's a little bothersome to hear Rex Ryan say the Jets "don't have enough good players", then see one of the possible fringe roster players go down with an Achilles tear.
*A couple of takeaways from the Jets-Panthers game: I was curious how the clunker of a game would be presented on the show. As ugly as the performance was, some of the 'Hard Knocks' storylines were pretty present throughout, from the special teams position battles to the individual players like Vernon Gholston and Joe McKnight. And it was good to see - again, just like last week - when McKnight was on the sideline, Santonio Holmes was right in his ear. I'm hoping a mentoring role is positive for both parties there.
*Another guy on the fringe of the roster is David Clowney. He's well-liked by the players...clearly not as much by the coaches. Funny that Clowney and Matt Mulligan were talked about together in the show - they were also bunched together on Twitter all day in a war of tweets between Mark Sanchez and Dustin Keller and others during a bus ride to Hofstra for a practice at the Jets' old facility.
*Mike Pettine in the opening meeting of the show, wearing a Phillies shirt?!?! Yuck.
*Line of the night was when they were talking about running back Danny Woodhead and saying he could have been a Hall of Famer in the 1950s, and the they joke around saying, "Man, LT runs just like Danny Woodhead used to."
*Love the approach the Jets took with punter T.J. Conley. They used 'Hard Knocks' as an advertisement for a guy they clearly like, hoping he'll get another job somewhere. And even if it wasn't what they were thinking, it was how it turned out.
*Second line of the night: That girl who is kind of an assistant to either Rex Ryan or Mike Tannenbaum, who is always around their meetings, who negotiated with the magician for Rookie Night, when she says, "Anything else you want me to negotiate?" and they both responded "Call Revis." Clearly it's something on everyone's mind - someone called out during the magic show, "Make Revis show up." Hopefully that doesn't violate the "no negotiating through the media" agreement.
*How weird was it to see Woody Johnson working out two treadmills away from Braylon Edwards?
*The impersonation of the coaches was pretty entertaining, but the "Rookie Night" segment as a whole was kind of lame. (Nice visual gag, though, with Mark Brunell's face on the 'Just For Men' box.)
*Finally, a word on hazing. When I heard this week that the Jets had tied Brian Jackson to the goal post, it gave me pause - I think hazing is something that needs to be cut out, because younger athletes take it farther and farther and it gets to a point where it's really dangerous. But then they showed the circumstances surrounding Jackson, and gave you the impression he had something coming. So I was back to thinking it was harmless fun. But that did not look harmless. I wish the players hadn't gone as far as they did, and I wish HBO hadn't shown it. "Rookie Night" is about as harsh as I'd like to see rookie hazing presented in the NFL - because that's what younger athletes are watching and modeling themselves after. And I'd hate to see some high school athlete get injured and for his teammates to say they were just doing what they saw the Jets do.