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Noted & quoted: The best moments from Episode 2 of ‘Hard Knocks’

Dinosaurs or mermaids — which one exists? Let’s ask Rams defensive end William Hayes

As I sat in my cubicle Tuesday afternoon, a tweet popped up on my timeline linking to a story with the headline, “Rams defensive end William Hayes believes mermaids are real and dinosaurs are not.

I thought to myself, this beautiful realization from a 6-foot-3, 280-pound lineman could only be the product of another episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams. So, I anxiously waited for the clock to strike 10 p.m., when I and the football world would be blessed with the full backstory behind Hayes’ mermaid-dinosaur theories, as well as other things that the uncensored inside look at NFL training camp had to offer.

Without further ado, here is a series of the most memorable moments from episode two, as told through the best things Rams players and coaches were caught saying.


First down

“I just think it’s some bulls—, to be completely honest with you. I just can’t fathom a T-Rex walking around here. Something man ain’t never seen.” — Rams defensive end William Hayes

 

In the offseason, the Rams moved back to Los Angeles after playing in St. Louis for 21 years. No player was likely more excited about the move than Hayes — not because he and the team would be closer to Hollywood, but because they would be closer to the ocean and thus mermaids. Yes, mermaids. “As a matter of fact, I remember him getting real excited about the potential for moving out here because he knew that he would be closer to mermaids here on the West Coast,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher says in the episode. Bonus: Despite having several dinosaur figurines in his locker, Hayes doesn’t believe they once existed. He puts them in the same category as the made-up figures of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and even has a dinosaur conspiracy theory: “The government make up s— all the time,” Hayes tells a teammate. “If you want to be ignorant and believe that s—, some s— man ain’t never seen before, that’s on you.”

Second down

Bieber or Timberlake? “I’m going to Bieber … because he’s closer to my age.” Rams quarterback Jared Goff

 

It’s no shock that one of the faces of this season of Hard Knocks is future face of the Rams franchise: Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. As of now, the team’s starting quarterback is not Goff, but fifth-year quarterback Case Keenum, who we learned in episode two is the NCAA’s record-holder for completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns — all records he set during his five-year career at the University of Houston. Regardless, Goff is the star, and in one interview shown during the episode, which consisted of random rapid-fire, either-or questions, a reporter asked Goff to choose between singers Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake. The 21-year-old Goff picked the 22-year-old Bieber because of their closeness in age. But maybe Goff is trying to say he’s going to be a superstar like Bieber. Later in the episode, Goff gives a kid an autograph and jokingly asks, “Who are you selling this to?” My man’s got swag. Respect.

Third down

“Bro, this is a dream, but don’t … hey, keep working, though. This is the dream that can be given to you and tiger taken away from you in a heartbeat.” — Rams wide receiver Austin Hill

 

Hard Knocks is not just about the highly drafted and highly touted stars of an NFL team. The show is about the average Joes, the unsung heroes — the players who have to fight as hard as anyone for spot on a team’s 53-man roster. One of those players this season is Austin Hill, whom the Rams sign during episode two to add depth to a receiving corps that ranked dead last in yards and touchdowns last season. Hill is a local California guy whose father, David Hill, was an NFL tight end from 1976 to 1987 for the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. The younger Hill tells David Richards, another wide receiver who is signed, to not get complacent after inking a contract. We then later find out why Hill is so focused — he plays to support his young daughter, Rielyn. Heartbreaking spoiler alert: Later in the episode, with Rielyn in the stands for Los Angeles’ preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Hill doesn’t get into the game. Here’s to hoping he makes the roster.

Fourth down

“Holy N.A.F.” — Rams secondary coach Brandon Fisher

 

If you’re wondering what the acronym “N.A.F.” stands for, it’s the brainchild of Rams secondary coach Brandon Fisher and means “Non Athletic F—.” Fisher blurts it out repeatedly in the direction of rookie defensive back Brian Randolph while he’s doing drills. But the thing is, Randolph is far from a N.A.F. Just ask his fellow rookie Rams teammate Pharoh Cooper. Last college football season, while Cooper was a wide receiver at the University of South Carolina and Randolph a defensive back at the University of Tennessee, Randolph absolutely lit up Cooper with a hit that drew a penalty flag. The two players talk about it in the episode, with Cooper giving his utmost respect to Randolph. Boy, would I have liked to see Randolph in the league this season. But another heartbreaking spoiler alert: Randolph tears his ACL in the preseason opener. Wishing you a speedy recovery, my man.

Fresh set of downs

Here, I’ll give you some quick-hit moments from the episode that are worth highlighting.

  • Rams training camp is held on the campus of the University of California-Irvine. The distance between the players’ dorms and the practice field is a few miles, meaning that many players have bikes, scooters and even dune buggies to get around. While driving around campus, wide receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick crashed their dune buggy. “Dumb and dumber,” Fisher calls them.
  • “He’s got two speeds. One’s fast and one’s sleep. When he’s not sleeping, he’s going fast.” — Fisher on Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin, who likely has the most exuberant personality on the team. During the episode, Austin wears a pair of socks with NFL commissioner Roger Goodall’s face on them. Hilarious.
  • The team competes in a grip strength competition, during which two players grab opposite ends of a football and try to snatch it away from one another. It’s an interesting game I’ve never seen before. Rookie wide receiver Duke Williams won it all.
  • The Rams did a pool workout. And the best quote that came out of it? “That say 13 feet. I ain’t getting in that s—, bro. That ain’t gon’ work, bro. I’m a big, pretty man, bro.” — 6-foot-4, 320-pound Rams guard Jamon Brown to fellow guard Rodger Saffold. It’s OK, the water isn’t for everybody, big man.

Aaron Dodson is an associate editor at The Undefeated. Often mistaken for Aaron Dobson, formerly of the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals, he was one letter away from being an NFL wide receiver.