I'm now expecting great things from "Hard Knocks" every week.
The crew captures really fun moments like haircuts and the rookie talent show (when is that episode airing, by the way?) and talk about Bianca Wilfork's amazing bread. Today, I saw the crew setting up to shoot DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt working on one-handed catches after practice. I've gotten my jealousy of their all-access pass under control because I can't wait to see what story lines they spin from their 20 gazillion hours of footage.**I have so many thoughts about last night's episode. Here's the rest of what didn't fit in those pesky 140-character tweets.
More Brian Cushing Unfiltered**
Ask and you shall receive.
The first episode gave us a sample of mic'd up Brian Cushing. Last night, we got a lot more. Cushing talking smack to kids, Cushing insulting players who drink Starbucks, Cushing pushing a stroller on a skateboard thingy.
I wonder if, nationally, viewers saw the second episode of "Hard Knocks" and thought Cushing came off like a bully or a brute. Just a tad. The very slightest amount.
Then I channeled my inner Cushing. I was like, "Whatever" and shoved someone passing by.
I asked the veteran inside linebacker if he watched last night's show. He did. He told me exactly what he thought.
"Well, I mean, they portrayed me exactly who I am, you know? I'm not putting on an act. I'm just acting who I am and that's how it came out."
Like the coffee he doesn't drink, Cushing "doesn't have a filter." Pun totally intended, right, "Hard Knocks?"
I like to think of No. 56 as two entities. On-Field Cushing and Off-Field Cushing.
In one of my first interviews with him, we discussed tanning (he does it), how he can sing "Happy Birthday" in Polish (because that's his mom's background), and his obsession with crazy loud house/dance music while lifting weights. He also once brought his baby to the podium during a press conference. He expertly fielded questions while holding a miniature version of himself.
That funny, fatherly Cushing can go from totally professional to bloodthirsty animal in 0.4 seconds. He's competitive and unapologetic about it. He's a guy that can seem polarizing and intense, unless he's playing for your team. Then, you want to go and head butt someone wearing a helmet because you are...So. Pumped. Up.
The Exact Opposite
I love that "Hard Knocks" balanced the show with the exact, opposite end of the spectrum in personalities: the high-maintenance shoppers on the team. From Cushing's life wisdom (real men don't drink lattes) to shopping at the Houston Galleria, we see Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph browsing in the little girls' section of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Those two couldn't wait to get out of that Pepto Bismol pink section fast enough. To go shopping for themselves, that is.
Then, pan to DeAndre Hopkins mulling over a manbag at Club Monaco. How did I not know that Hopkins wanted a Yorkie to go inside a manbag?
It solves two problems at once:
1. What do I put in my manbag?
2. Who will watch my Yorkie when I'm out in the club with my manbag?
Weekly Rick Ross Reference**Random thought: Today, I heard fans chanting "Rick Ross! Rick Ross!" as O'Brien arrived to training camp.
So, we learned in Episode 2 that the head coach's love for the Teflon Don and Port of Miami rapper still burns strong. When he hears "Hustlin'" at practice, he's READY TO GO. He tells Glenn Fife, the football operations intern (Shoutout, Glenn!) to "Crank it." Glenn says that his Twitter has been blowing up ever since. Apparently, he's now the most sought-after DJ in Houston.
Back to Rick Ross, though. The other songs O'Brien loves that I've heard in practice are:
1. B.M.F (Blowin' Money Fast)
2. Elvis Presley Blvd.
3. Push It
4. It's My Time
Side note: For all the publicity that Rick Ross gets from O'Brien, "Hard Knocks," and Texans fans, he should be paying us to play his stuff. Kidding! Album t-shirts, promotional items and trips to Wingstop will suffice.
O'Brien hand picks this playlist (now on Spotify). I would know. I've offered him some suggestions because I felt that the 2015 season needed a little freshening up with the tunes. And in the irony of all ironies, OB told me my songs had too much cursing in them.
Media 101 by Bill O'Brien
First of all, I KNEW it!
Sometimes we'll have a chance to interview a rookie before he officially begins attending team meetings, for example, right after being drafted or signed.
Then, a strange phenomenon happens once O'Brien meets with him.
We may or may not affectionately refer to it (internally) as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." No matter what question you ask, you get the same canned response about being a good teammate, being coachable, just trying to get better, making the team, or any combination of the above.
Here's an actual interview with a rookie after this sad, sad phenomenon occurred recently.
Question: How was your first day?
Rookie: Definitely exciting to be out here in practice with the Texans for the first time. I'm just trying to get better every day.
Question: How do you think you did?
Rookie: I thought I did pretty good, but I'm just trying to get better.
Question: What do you want to improve?
Rookie: Everything. Nothing specifically, just everything.
Question: Has anything surprised you?
Rookie: I wasn't going into it, expecting the worst. It's going into it just trying to have fun, learn, and get better every day.
Question: What's most important for you to focus on now?
*Rookie: Oh yeah, just everything. From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed. I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just try and get better.
Sense a theme?
That's why sometimes I'll just talk to a player like (who's great by the way) about his socks. It's way more interesting and insightful.
I could have done without seeing closeups of Vince Wilfork's sweat bubbling through his shoes or hearing the sounds of him filing dead foot skin in the locker room. I'll be sure to avoid standing on or around foot shavings near his locker now. Also, the discussion of what everyone wears under their football pants was funny but eww.
Jadeveon Clowney Montage
Set to cool music, post-microfracture surgery Jadeveon Clowney looks amazing doesn't he? Do you still flinch when anything approaches the vicinity of his right knee? I do! The preview for Episode 3 shows his glorious return to the field.
Fingers crossed that they show lots of footage of his first press conference and I get my first cameo. I'm getting a little tired of my friends and family asking me why I'm not on "Hard Knocks." That's because I'm not a player, a coach, or someone with a great Macho Man Randy Savage impersonation, ok?
Speaking of which, assistant strength and conditioning coach Sean Hayes does Rick Flair and supposedly an amazing Stone Cold Steve Austin. Make it happen, "Hard Knocks."
For Episode One recap, click here.
Go behind the scenes of the second episode of #HardKnocks.