Hard Knocks that don’t involve K-Rod

I caught the first episode of Hard Knocks on HBO last night. I had never seen the show before so I didn’t know what to expect.

It was pretty cool. Mostly it made me miss playing and coaching football, thanks to all the dramatized slow-motion footage of the Jets’ drills and everything. Football camp was actually damn near torturous, but the show glorified it thoroughly enough to color my memories.

I am skeptical about whether the players, coaches and executives really behave on camera the same way they would off camera. In fact, I am almost certain they don’t. I have no doubt that Rex Ryan is both literally and figuratively larger than life when the cameras aren’t rolling, but no one acts the same when they know it’s being documented and broadcast. Reality TV is anything but. This is Rex Ryan’s best Rex Ryan performance, and he does a pretty good job of it.

Mike Tannenbaum, on the other hand, is brutal to watch. First off, I had no idea the dude was so emo. The whole conversation he had with Woody Johnson about how Darrelle Revis’ agent was also a human being who went home to his wife? Ugh. Plus the scene had the dramatic timing of continental drift. Show me football, please.

When Hard Knocks did that, it was sweet. The NFL Films-style footage looked great in HD and the sound was incredible — it’s awesome to hear the uncensored antics of players in games and on sidelines.

Predictably, the show dramatized the Revis thing and a couple of rookies getting cut — a part rendered even sadder because you knew these poor kids had to suffer an awful life moment on camera.

Most of the real, relevant football insight that could be gleaned from the show focused on rookie fullback John Conner. Turns out Tannenbaum gives Ryan one draft pick that’s all his, and Conner was Ryan’s choice this year. Ryan said he was watching film of linebackers when he spotted Conner leveling dudes for Kentucky and fell for him. Apparently Conner looks impressive early in camp and even knocked Calvin Pace around a bit.

Also, and most importantly, his name is John Conner and he is nicknamed “The Terminator” (even though, of course, John Connor was not the Terminator. Calling a fullback “Edward Furlong” would probably be a whole lot less intimidating).

Anyway, probably worth checking out the show. Made me really psyched for football season, especially since it immediately followed that brutal, brutal Mets game.

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