After what seemed like an enternity of planning (it was only two months) and the excitement surrounding a new chapter in Houston Texans history, Hard Knocks is over.
Just like that.
The season finale of NFL Films' 'Hard Knocks' was Tuesday night on HBO. Here's a look back at them working on the scene.
When it was first announced on May 27th that the Texans would be featured on the 10th season of Hard Knocks, I had no idea what to expect. I'd been a fan and avid watcher of the series for years, and even gotten a small glimpse of the Hard Knocks cameras last year when Atlanta practiced here during training camp.
That said, to know your team, and to some degree, your working life, would be featured in front of the world on HBO was part exciting and part terrifying. The questions were endless.
What will it be like for them to be embedded in our offices?
How will the public view our organization?
How can we cover someone covering us?
How does it all work?
For the Texans players and coaching staff, their 'job' was being filmed. Around the clock and during the most intimate times. They were opening up their homes, offices and lives to the unknown masses.
Imagine that for a second. Imagine walking across the parking lot to your office with a camera in your face. Imagine a camera following you around to meetings with your bosses, or into your house after the day is over. Everything is chronicled.
All for five hours of television.
Early on in the Hard Knocks process, producer Matt Dissinger said that NFL Films crew shot over 300 hours of footage for every one hour of show. By that math, over 1500 hours were recorded for this season's episodes, which is almost nine weeks worth of video. It is truly staggering.
Over the month of July, we felt Hard Knocks moving in. You saw the cameras being installed and the wires being run around the building. You saw the army of 'Hard Knocks' white shirts, and it began to feel real.
Once training camp began, you kind of (at least I did) got used to them being around, as their crew almost became a part of the fabric. They ate lunch alongside of us, we joked with them as we walked by, and we all looked forward to what would make the first show's final cut. So much effort went into the premiere, and finally seeing it on screen was pretty cool. From that point on, we were all locked in.
As the episodes continued, we learned nearly as much about the team as fans did. We learned about Vince Wilfork's basketball skills (seriously, what can't he do?), Christian Covington's affinity for books and even got a confirmation of Bill O'Brien's love of Rick Ross (my personal favorite, and yes #CrankItGlen). Heck, I even made a small cameo (love you Mom!).
While the series ending wasn't a happy one for most, it was real, and that is what Hard Knocks prides itself on. As O'Brien said to the team after final cuts were made, the National Football League is the most competitive business in the world. It doesn't work out for everyone.
A couple of days ago I was walking from our offices to get some lunch in our cafeteria. As I opened the door and headed down, I saw two Hard Knocks staffers installing a camera in the corner. I jokingly mentioned that they were 'adding a cut cam' for the final episode. Little did I know that very camera would provide one of the saddest moments of the finale.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Charles James II in this final recap. He and his #HappySocks became a pop culture sensation during the show, even to the point where we were tweeting in French about him.
I imagine he's endeared himself to Texans fans for a long time. The same can be said of EZ Nwachukwu, Kourtnei Brown, Lynden Trail, Travis Labhart and many others. Despite the fact that we all knew they didn't make it, it wasn't any easier to watch it happen on screen.
For as long as Hard Knocks was here, it didn't take them long to pack up and leave. The cameras are gone, the staff has dispersed and everything is back to normal at NRG Stadium.
Well, as normal as it can be after watching where you work front and center on HBO. Next Tuesday will be weird for all us. Most of us (coaches/players excluded) will wish there was more. For me, this was a once in a lifetime experience, something I can share with my family and friends for the rest of my days. For that I am thankful.
Now, on to the season. Let's go Texans!