We’ve reached the end of our journey. Let’s discuss the season finale of Hard Knocks
-I remember Hard Knocks being a 6 week series. So, when I saw this labeled as Season Finale on my DVR, I was a little bit surprised. Oh well. I guess it makes sense. Training Camp is already over.
-We open with shots of all the Bengals stars playing badly at practice and getting yelled at by the coaches. Maybe that does not bode well for the coming season. Or, maybe, its the last week of training camp and everyone is dealing with some senioritis.
-We see a seamstress removing the names from the jersey of a player who got cut. Does that mean the Bengals re-use jerseys just like the Freehold Township Little League did when I was a kid. (One year I was on the Reds and our uniforms were yellow. WHAT?)
-Linebackers coach Paul Guenther says he doesn’t bullshit around the bush. HE’S MIXING METAPHORS!
– We revisit the backup QB battle between Josh Johnson and John Skelton. From week 1 of Hard Knocks we remember that Skelton can’t learn the offense and Johnson can’t throw. Which crippling insufficiency will prove to be fatal?
-And now Mike Nolan is shooting arrows from a compression bow.
-Domata Peko brings the cameras into the room while his wife gets an ultrasound. They’re having a boy!
-Rookie Jayson Dimanche has a painting done by Aaron Maybin, who was cut two weeks ago. That gives Hard Knocks the segue to revisit Maybin, who is still painting in his studio. I can’t remember Hard Knocks ever checking back in with a player who was cut so early on. Maybin’s an interesting guy. He says art is his first love and football doesn’t compare.
-Bengals wideout Dane Sanzenbacher has had a great camp. None of his teammates or coaches can pronounce his name. One guy brings up Henry Roengardner from the brilliant film, “Rookie of the Year.” Daniel Stern deserved an Oscar. It doesn’t seem to matter one way or another. It looks like Sanzenbacher is going to get cut.
-A bunch of Bengals sit around playing guitars and singing. They are singing John Mayer (!?!)
-The Bengals enter their final pre-season game 22 players over the regular season limit. Various shots of the borderline players walking into the stadium shows how seriously they’re all taking this game.
-Rookies Jayson DiManche and Bruce Taylor have been carpooling to practice every day. Now they’re competing for a single roster spot.
-I just ordered a cheeseburger. This is unrelated to Hard Knocks, though it is evidence that I may be losing interest a bit in this week’s episode.
-Margus Hunt is once again forced to make Ivan Drago jokes
-The last preseason game ends 35 minutes into the episode. That means we have 25 minutes of CUTS, CUTS, CUTS!
-De’Quin Evans gets suspended for violating PED rules. I think this is the first time Hard Knocks has dealt with that issue. Evans also got hurt in the 4th game, so he’s going on IR anyway. “I take full responsibility.. but at the same time I didn’t know what I was taking had a banned substance in it.”
-Josh Johnson wins the QB battle over John Skelton. Andy Dalton better stay healthy
-The coaches and GM sit in a room making the final roster decisions. It’s as compelling as a meeting at a conference room on TV can be.
-The coaches agree that fullback John Conner had a great training camp but ends up getting cut because there is a younger and more versatile player competing with him. Once again, coach Marvin Lewis sits down with Conner and explains his reasoning. He has the same conversation with John Skelton. Marvin Lewis is very classy. I’ve written that every week.
-Dane Sanzenbacher ends up making the team.
-Hard Knocks uses Jayson DiManche’s experience on the final cut day to perfection. He sits in his hotel room waiting for the call while also tracking Twitter to see the other players who end up getting cut. He makes the team. Then freaks out and immediately dials another number. The caller ID says “Mommy.” She’s happy too. That’s just about a perfect ending for his season of Hard Knocks.
-But it’s not over! We watch as Geno Atkins signs a massive contract extension. Everyone is happy for him.
-The final quote goes to Marvin Lewis:
“Congratulations. Now we play for real.”