Breakfast: The human side of Hard Knocks


For many Texans fans, the most important five minutes of last night's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks involved the team's quarterback decision, as head coach Bill O'Brien told his group of signal callers that Brian Hoyer would be the starter.

But for me, the more meaningful segment with O'Brien happened far away from NRG Stadium.

This past Saturday was his son Jack's 13th birthday, and the NFL Films cameras followed the Texans head coach to his house for the celebration.  As his wife Colleen mentioned on the show, Jack has valiantly battled a rare brain formation disorder called Lissencephaly. Doctors told the O'Brien's that Jack wouldn't live to be two, yet here they were putting candles on his 13th birthday cake.

The aim of Hard Knocks is to tell the stories of the teams they cover, presenting a complete picture of what it is like to be a professional football player.

What they try to remind us, and we as fans often forget, is that there is a very human side to the National Football League. Life continues long after the games are over. The people that play on Sunday aren't two-dimensional characters in a movie, but human beings that have families, friends and even shopping buddies (Kareem and J-Joe) that play in a big role in who they are.

While O'Brien is widely known as a football coach, he is also a father and a husband. He cracks jokes with his kids, sings Happy Birthday as shares his passion (football) with them.

Any father can relate to that. We all come home from our jobs and want to spend time with our children, be the best parents we can and help guide them. That doesn't change because your profession is more visible than the average job.

As O'Brien mentioned during the segment, Jack is 'good red-blooded American', and enjoys what most teenage boys do, football, food and cheerleaders.

I think I speak for many of our fans when I say, 'Happy belated birthday Jack!"

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