Noted & quoted: The best moments from Episode 3 of ‘Hard Knocks’
Family comes first for many of this season’s players
The first two episodes of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams on HBO were full of laughs, off-the-field shenanigans and even theories about dinosaurs and mermaids. With the excitement that a new NFL season brings, it’s hard not to revel in the fun. But at the same time, training camp is about preparation and, above all, business. Most players have families and children to support while roster spots come at a premium.
In the third episode, we see Rams players beyond the jokes and all the cursing. Whether that’s Rams defensive end William Hayes spending his off day with his kids at Disneyland, quarterback Case Keenum going over play calls with his wife Kimberly like a kid going over vocab with a teacher, or defensive lineman Ian Seau, the nephew of the late Hall of Famer Junior Seau, battling on the field in a preseason game with his sister Shannalei cheering him on in the stands – we finally get to see some of the players as the humans they are.
Sticking to the theme of family, here is a series of the most memorable moments from the third episode, as told through the best things Rams coaches, players and their family members were caught saying.
“My teammates and my coaches let me know it’s all right to cry. And it’s all right to let those emotions out whenever you feel like it, you know? For them, I’m thankful. They’re the reason I’m still in camp.” — Rams wide receiver Paul McRoberts
The episode begins with perhaps the saddest moment of the season thus far: Rams wide receiver Paul McRoberts finds out about the murder of his 18-year-old stepbrother. Turns out McRoberts, a rookie out of Southeast Missouri State University, first saw the news on Facebook. His family avoided telling him so he wouldn’t be distracted while competing for a spot on the team. McRoberts meets with Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who handles the situation as well as one could ask. It’s hard to imagine that the rookie didn’t consider leaving the team after his brother’s death, but McRoberts says on camera that the support he received from Fisher, other members of the coaching staff and his teammates allowed him to have the strength to remain with the team and continue training camp. “It’s about allowing him to mourn and grieve. It’s about comforting him. That’s more important than what we’re doing,” Fisher says, showing a side of the coach we normally don’t get to see, especially on Hard Knocks.
“I don’t look at him as my son, I look at him as one of the staff members that’s getting his job done and that’s the only way you can look at it.” — Rams head coach Jeff Fisher
It took me a while to put two and two together, but Rams defensive backs coach Brandon Fisher is head coach Jeff Fisher’s son. And until the third episode, I had never noticed a now obvious part of one of the most famous plays in NFL history —”The Music City Miracle” from the 1999 AFC wild-card playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans, then coached by Jeff Fisher. When Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson scored the game-winning touchdown, a young Brandon Fisher was caught on the broadcast jumping up and down celebrating from the sideline. “It was cool growing up in that locker room. Week in, week out, the s— I got to see,” Brandon Fisher says in the episode. “You get to see a different side of it. You get to see like the big picture side of it, you know?”
“I thought it’s kind of cool how you’re like the dad of the defense … but you’re also like the dad of a real world.” — Rams staff member to Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree
Right before the start of training camp, Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree and his wife, Alex, welcomed a new baby boy into the world — Austin Jonathan Ogletree aka A.J. While Ogletree is adjusting to the franchise’s move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, and preparing for the upcoming season, it appears his wife and new son are still back in Missouri. “We miss you … This is like a single-parent life,” Alex says while on a FaceTime call with her husband during the episode. It’s apparent that Ogletree is the vocal leader of the Rams defense or, as one team staff member points out, “the dad of defense.” But being a dad to his son from thousands of miles away for the time being must be tough for Ogletree.
“The hardest part I think for them, and for me to watch, is them being apart because they’re like best friends.” — Valery Hernandez, girlfriend of Rams wide receiver Austin Hill
Last week, we met wide receiver Austin Hill, a free agent the Rams signed to add depth to their wide receiving corps. And if there’s one thing Hill is playing for, it’s his daughter, Rielyn. He wants to make the team for her and does his best to balance both football and his responsibilities as a father. In one moment of episode three, Hill’s girlfriend, Valery Hernandez, brings Rielyn to practice. Hill spends time with his daughter, running and laughing on the field, but when it’s time for him to get back to work, Rielyn begins to cry (which made me want to cry, if we’re being honest). During every season of Hard Knocks, there seems to be one player who emerges as a fan favorite. I think it’s safe to say this season it’s Hill. Viewers are already wishing the worst doesn’t happen to him:
The Rams are going to cut Austin Hill and then #HardKnocks is going to make us watch his daughter cry.
We live in a sick world
— Anthony Simone (@AnthonySimone2) August 24, 2016
The Rams are gonna cut Austin Hill, aren't they?
They gonna make us watch his little daughter cry, aren't they?#HardKnocks
— nevaRWilliams (@nevaRWilliams) August 24, 2016
Fresh set of downs
Here, I’ll give you some quick-hit moments from the episode that are worth highlighting.
- The Los Angeles Rams have one of the best and most imposing linebackers in the history of the NFL on their team — the only thing is he’s a coach, not a player. Mike Singletary — a 10-time Pro Bowler and eight-time first-team All-Pro selection during 12 seasons for the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1992 — is a defensive assistant coach for the Rams. Aside from all the accolades, he’s probably best known for his “Cannot win with ’em” rant from his time as interim head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2008. Singletary’s intimidating reputation certainly precedes him, which is why Rams defensive end William Hayes admits, “That’s one coach I’m not f—— with.”
- Remember Rams defensive end Eugene Simms from episode one? If you recall, he was horrible at pingpong while playing with fellow lineman Aaron Donald. Well, it turns out Simms is good with his hands when it comes to catching footballs. A great moment in episode three shows Simms making one-handed catches from a football passing machine while in the background Donald is yelling, “Sticky fingers!”
- If there’s one thing we’ve learned this season, it’s how much Rams center Eric Kush loves tank tops. In the third episode, Kush got custom tanks made for the entire team with the phrase, “Do you even?” on them. As in short for, “Do you even lift, bro?” I want one.
- Funniest quote of the third episode goes to Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams: “When we say Larry. That means Larry go f— somebody up, Larry. But everybody’s touchy, touchy, touchy feel on his a–y, a–y, a–y.”