Noted & quoted: The best moments from Episode 1 of ‘Hard Knocks’
Pingpong, Pokemon GO, rapper cameos and a hilarious quarterback — What’s not to love about this show?
“I’m going to be scared as f— when we’re way up in the air, for sure … Fun fact: Grand Theft Auto V has a blimp in it, and I’ve been on that blimp.”
These are the words of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Normally, the average fan doesn’t get to hear an NFL player, let alone the No. 1 pick, be so candid. But on Tuesday night, Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams premiered. So for the next five weeks, we’ll get an inside, and most importantly, uncensored, look into your average NFL training camp. Thank you,
Based God HBO.
This year marks the 11th season of the series, which started in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens. The theme of this season is certainly transition, as the Rams franchise returned to Los Angeles in the offseason after playing 21 years in St. Louis.
On the field, the Rams will also seek to transition from mediocrity — I’m not throwing shade, head coach Jeff Fisher even acknowledges the mediocrity in the first episode — to contending for a spot in the playoffs. Last year, during Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Houston Texans, I went behind the scenes with the show’s production crew for The Washington Post. It’s worth noting that for each 55-minute episode, the crew captures 350 hours of footage in a week. I repeat: 350 hours of footage. That means nothing is missed, and every single hilarious training camp moment is immortalized on video.
So, here is a series of the best moments from episode one, as told through the funniest things Rams players and coaches were caught saying.
“Well, I’m touching base, man. We’re going to go ahead and release you today …” — Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to quarterback Nick Foles.
Jeff Fisher dumped Nick Foles the way your 7th grade gf did just now on Hard Knocks 😭https://t.co/pS14QaujjY
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) August 10, 2016
Not everything is unexpected in Hard Knocks — especially when it comes to pre-training camp roster moves. A few weeks ago, the Rams cut quarterback Nick Foles. As for how the cut went down? Oh, just a casual call from Fisher to Foles. “Hey, Nick. What’s up, man? … How’s summer? Did you guys stay here in Southern California or do some travel? … Well, I’m touching base, man. We’re going to go ahead and release you today …”
Imagine if your boss called on a Monday morning and said, “Did you have a good weekend? Oh, by the way, you’re fired.” Kind of awkward, to be honest, but I’m sure this happens all the time. And in all fairness, Fisher wrapped up the call by thanking Foles for his contributions to the team last season and assured him he’d put in the good word for him with other teams. Foles is now signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He’s going to stick his knuckle in your a–h— … Let him feel it. That’s a little deep … ” — Rams quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke to Goff.
Even though the Rams drafted Goff out of the University of California-Berkeley with the No. 1 overall pick, that doesn’t mean he’ll be handed anything on a silver platter. The team’s starter for now, at least, is Case Keenum, as Goff transitions to the pro game. At Cal, Goff worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun. So, he has to learn how to work under center. That means that during training camp, he’ll be getting very acquainted with Rams center Eric Kush’s backside. “Remember, when you’re coming in, smack the butt so I know you’re ready to play football,” Kush tells Goff.
“See, Aaron, that’s why you my roommate. I’m gon’ do everything you do, god damn it. Your a– look smooth as hell.” — Rams defensive end Eugene Simms to defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2016
Aside from Goff, Donald is the early front-runner for my favorite player this season. Not only is he a beast on the football field — the third-year defensive tackle is already a two-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All Pro last season — Donald is a beast on the pingpong table, too.
Since the Rams training camp is being held at the University of California-Irvine, it gives Donald a chance to whup up on some college kids on the pingpong table during the team’s downtime. In episode one, he and Simms lose a game of 2-on-2 to a couple of students because, as Rams defensive tackle Dominique Easley says, “Eugene sucks.” The 6-foot-1, 285-pound Donald, however, is as smooth as ever with a paddle in his hand.
“Big a– kicker. Kicker will whoop my a–.” — rapper ScHoolboy Q to rapper Kendrick Lamar.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 4, 2016
Now that the Rams are Hollywood, that means the stars come out. Los Angeles-based rappers ScHoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar (along with L.A. Lakers coach Luke Walton and former L.A. Rams player Rosey Grier) attended a training camp practice to welcome the team to their city. As the rappers walked onto the field, ScHoolboy Q noted how big 6-foot, 196-pound kicker Greg Zuerlein is. Then ScHoolboy Q got the urge to get in on the action, eventually finding a football and tossing it around with Kendrick Lamar. I made this joke on Twitter already, but I will surely recycle it: On the football field, we will refer to them as ScHoolboy QB and Kendrick “King Katcha” Lamar.
Fresh set of downs
Here, I’ll give you some quick-hit moments from the episode that are worth highlighting.
- Speaking of stars coming to visit Rams training camp, one who was missing was Goff’s celebrity crush, singer Taylor Swift. “Hey, Jared, is she dating anybody right now?” Keenum asked him. “I believe she is,” Goff responded.
- One of the Rams’ training camp rules is, “No guests in the room — under no circumstances.” Wide receiver Deon Long had a lady friend in his room to drop something off. Fisher found out and cut him. Cold world. Don’t worry though, Long isn’t jobless. He’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles.
- How does wide receiver Tavon Austin spend his downtime? Riding around training camp in a golf cart with one of the young staff members, playing Pokemon GO.
- “I happened to ask Jared Goff where the sun rises and where the sun sets and he said he wasn’t sure,” Weinke says in the episode during a quarterbacks meeting. Goff did his research and came to the conclusion that “technically it doesn’t rise, the Earth just rotates.” I love Goff.