It’s been a lot of fun watching Hard Knocks this season. As someone who doesn’t follow football regularly, I’ve been drawn in by the startling intimacy of this inside look at the pre-season New York Jets. Last night’s edition, which followed the team onto the field for a pre-season game against the Washington Redskins, and into the Jets’ offices to witness players getting cut from the team, was typically transfixing.
The HBO cameras know they have a prize in coach Rex Ryan, a walking, talking human football who articulates his philosophy with pungence: “We’ll ground and pound the livin’ s— outta ya.” As reality TV, Hard Knocks’ production values are mighty impressive: The cameras seem to capture everything with crisp clarity; every player’s slightest remark seemed to be picked up by a microphone.
Watching the blunt criticism the players endure on the field from various coaches, and the delicate negotiations that occur with various players, I was surprised at how much the Jets organization, and the players themselves, were willing to allow us to see. Sure, there’s a lot of footage that makes quarterback Mark Sanchez look like a golden boy, but there’s also ridiculousness such as various goofball Jets scarfing down cheeseburgers on the field during the game. (Coach Ryan did not partake, but did his chewing in the locker room, letting the eaters know he thought each one was “bein’ a jackass.”)
Next Wednesday is the season finale of Hard Knocks. Have you been watching? I’d be interested to hear from some football fans more informed than I am about your thoughts on this season of the show.