Well, we’ve come to the end of another season of HBO Sports’ best idea ever. Tonight marked the season finale of “Hard Knocks; Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals.“Â It also marked the end for a number of Bengal hopefuls, who will spend their careers on the fringes of NFL rosters
– We’ll begin this week with Child Please, since Ochocinco was featured prominently in the first five minutes of the episode, then was effectively absent from then on. Still, he managed to make an impact, notably with his proclamation that taking away his Twitter would be like “taking away his Johnson.” Ironic, since he filled out paperwork to legally remove the Johnson he was born with, and replace it with an Ochocinco. I was also semi-horrified by the room in his house decorated with Peter Max/ Andy WarholÂ style paintings of his face in various bright colors. Finally, the montage of Ocho dropping passes throughout training camp made me question the decision earlier this week, to draft him to my fantasy team.
-We’ll also check in with soon to be first round bust Andre Smith, still out with a broken foot after missing most of training camp.Â He went to “The Precinct,” apparently Cincinnati’s most famous steakhouse (and nicest restaurant next to Skyline Chili.) That’s where the maitre d’ essentially called him a fat ass. They also showed Smith on crutches. I feel terrible for the crutches.
-The main focus of this episode, of course, was whether or not some of our favorite players will make the roster. As a New Jersey native, I was partial to both former Rutgers star Brian Leonard and Newark native Chris Pressely. Well, good news on both fronts.Â HBO did a great job of building the drama, showing Pressley’s mom crying in the stands, showing a mix of pride and fear as her son battled for a job. As for Leonard, how in the world does he let a call from Marvin Lewis go to voicemail?
-Offensive lineman Gus Parrish got cut. But the worst part of his day may have been when it was time to go to the airport, and the cab company sent a compact car to drive him there.
-If nothing else, the scenes showing the coaches discussing the relative pros and cons of each player demonstrates that these guys don’t take the responsibility lightly. They truly agonized over a number of these decisions. Or maybe it was just the music selected by NFL Films and HBO sports.
Ultimately, the lesson learned from this season of Hard Knocks, and all previous seasons as well, is this: It just doesn’t seem worth it.Â All the work, all the pain, the hours of practice and training and film work and being yelled at by grown men in short shorts who act like Trogolodytes and equate football to war. You do all of that and what? You make a roster, only to have that position taken by someone else a year later? Or maybe a week later? And even if you manage to establish yourself as a solid NFL vet, nothing is guaranteed. Ben Utecht’s career may be over. He’s suffered five concussions during a relatively short career. They may have permanent repurcussions.Â And none of these guys look like they’re having fun.
Is it worth it? I’m not sure it is.