I don't like depressing things so I can't say I loved the season finale of "Hard Knocks." I'm pretty sure I wanted it to be over for at least 80 percent of it. Maybe 90. Perhaps already knowing the fate of players getting cut made it worse. We saw it coming and couldn't change it for them.
Being previously released after camp definitely didn't lessen the sting of getting released by the Texans.
Charles "Happy Socks" James II said he cried and stopped eating the last time he was cut. He watched his phone and waited for the call we all knew was coming.
EZ Nwachukwu had been through the camp and roster cuts the previous two years.
"Devastated would be a good word," EZ said of the emotions that followed.
Maybe seeing the funny, jovial guys receiving bad news made it that much harder. Or seeing families involved. We saw Lynden Trail praying with his family. Discovering his quad injury would keep him out of the final preseason game seemed like the anti-Hollywood ending for a guy who needed that opportunity to prove he was worth keeping on the 53-man roster. Kourtnei Brown, who returned the interception for a touchdown against the Saints, was speechless when he got the news.
"Hard Knocks" has shown the masses that the fourth preseason game is definitely meaningful even if no starters are playing. Those young players are fighting for their jobs. Some may never suit up again in an NFL uniform.
Seeing a somber Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith was definitely a unique glimpse into the roster trimming process, maybe even unexpected. Not that being a head coach or general manager makes you heartless, but I'd think they'd done this hundreds or thousands of times before. I guess when you've seen the hard work and dedication a player has put into making your team, it's hard not to feel bad letting them go simply because he's not a fit or there's not enough space.
Ok, enough sadness. There were some non-depressing parts last night too. Let's end on a high note.
Here's what wasn't depressing about the finale:
- O'Brien talking about how unstoppable the defense could be with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
- O'Brien getting excited about how Jadeveon Clowney will be when he returns.
- Vince Wilfork nailing two field goals from 25 and 35 yards.
- Carli Lloyd.
- Bill O'Brien yelling at himself for messing up down and distance in practice and then doing pushups.
- Hearing a "Hard Knocks" remix of practice at practice. I've already told "Crank It, Glenn" Fife that he needs to add this to the rotation.
- Cushing's motivational huddle speech of "1, 2, 3, meow."
- The talented Jonathan Grimes playing an original composition on piano at a hotel in Dallas. (He's played an electric keyboard during a Texans Radio show. On no advance notice, he busted out a little Elton John "Benny and the Jets.")
- Watching Vince Wilfork enjoy Grimes playing piano. I half expected Big Vince to jump in and excel at that too.
- The "Entourage"-like private jet scene with J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Duane Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Kareem Jackson, John Simon, and Macho Man Sean Hayes. Did I leave anyone out?
- Watching J.J. marvel at a cashmere carpet that costs 100k and worrying about putting his feet on it.
- Seeing players that were cut get jobs with other teams.
- Hearing O'Brien telling a noticeably smaller team that each man left has to earn it every (bleeping) day.
Thanks for the memories, "Hard Knocks." It's been real. Let's get this 2015 season started now.
One, two, three, meow.
The season finale of NFL Films' 'Hard Knocks' was Tuesday night on HBO. Here's a look back at them working on the scene.