It’s a time-honored tradition. Every year, NFL fans get one glimpse into the downside of being an NFL player in the summer: cut down day. Every year, HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ gives fans a look inside the team building to see what it looks like to be cut — well, except this year.
Sure, HBO got footage of guys like Luke Willson and Jason Cabinda walking into (and out of) the Oakland Raiders building, but for the first time that I can remember we weren’t allowed inside the cut room itself (this year it was general manager Mike Mayock’s office). In fact, it was a reminder of just how little Mayock we got this season — which seems odds considering how comfortable he is in front of a camera.
If anything, it seemed like Mayock’s presence on camera might have brought an air of respectability to an organization in need of it — but, for whatever reason, he wanted no part of the big screen. Oh well.
As for the rest of the final episode that aired of Tuesday night, it was more of the same — which was good, but not great, Hard Knocks content.
Gruden steals the show (again)
As the season has progressed it feels like we have gotten more and more of the Gruden we all hoped we would. My favorite moment of the episode was a sequence in which Gruden was playing the part of defensive lineman and chasing his quarterbacks out of the pocket. And, well, let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.
The Gruden quote of the night came during the team’s final preseason game, when he quipped this about Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith: “Throw a pick Geno, you’re due”. Classic.
Funny visual of the year
We all knew Trent Brown was a massive human being. But, until Antonio Brown stood directly in front of him I’m not sure any of us knew how big Brown really was:
I audibly gasped at the size of Trent Brown during last night’s Hard Knocks pic.twitter.com/VYjR56ImrC
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 4, 2019
Antonio Brown dominates
For all the drama surrounding Brown this summer, one thing has never been in question: this dude can ball. And, in the final practice clip we got of Brown he did just that — blowing by defensive backs, perpetually open and even making a ridiculously impressive catch on the sidelines.
If you want to know how easy it is to craft a narrative for the Hard Knocks folks, look at Keelan Doss. After hyping the guy up all season by showing every catch he had made, they knew they needed to flip the script this week since he was about to be cut. So what do they do? Zoom in on two catches and every “negative” interaction he had with Gruden.
Doss, along with other Hard Knocks favorites Willson and Cabinda were among the team’s cuts. While we didn’t get into Mayock’s office to see what happened, we did get some interesting parking lot material.
The best quote came from Willson, who had this to say after being cut: “I kind of feel like a piece of s*** to be honest”. It was a real moment from a guy who just lost his job, and it was a reminder that this isn’t all rainbows and unicorns for these guys.
In the end, the Raiders kept 12 rookies on the roster — moving from one of the oldest rosters in the league to one of the youngest. How that plays on the field, however, remains to be seen.
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