HARD KNOCKS TAKING A HARD TURN

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

My Biggest Takeaways from – Hard Knocks: Los Angeles

2020’s mantra of weirdness isn’t going away.

In what many Americans consider one of the strangest and depressing years we have faced in the last century, the trend continued on the big series premiere, HBO’s Hard Knocks.

On Tuesday evening, it premiered the Chargers and Rams to take an exclusive look at how the transition has been into a socially-distanced Training Camp.

No contact for three weeks. Socially-distanced team drills. No Preseason games.

In a typical season of Hard Knocks, NFL Films and HBO crew members capture unprecedented footage. It contains an NFL team’s offseason program regimens, training camp, and the darker corner of the NFL business, a player’s livelihood being displayed on national television for the masses to see – being “cut.”

That is not the case this year. The novel coronavirus exploded onto the scene in early spring. It’s continuing to drag on. It’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. Similar to the on-stage performance of comedian, Chris D’Elia.

What are the repercussions?  One of the strangest episodes of Hard Knocks since it debuted 15 years ago.

Here are my biggest takeaways from HBO Hard Knocks: Los Angeles. 

  • Anthony Lynn Stole The Spotlight. 

In the opening scene, the first few minutes highlight Coach Lynn in his office, speaking to all of his players via Zoom. He shares the unfortunate news that he contracted COVID–19 at some point in late June. The unsettling news sets the tone for the rest of the episode and possibly foreshadows what the theme will be for the rest of the series. Joey Bosa’s reaction says it all. For someone who has also contracted the indiscriminate virus, Lynn explains it perfectly. More on this virus matter and Bosa later in the blog.

  • The Rams Outdoor Facility  

Sean McVay’s forward-thinking mind is in crisp, mid-season form. The Rams constructed an outdoor tent that is reminiscent in size of a circus tent back in the ’90s. The main goal of the tent is to mitigate the risk of spreading germs indoors. The team is taking advantage of conducting as many football activities outdoors as possible. Speaking of McVay. . .

  • How Much Plastic Surgery Has McVay’s Fiancee Undergone?

McVay has proverbially flexed on his counterpoints through his offensive playcalling, and now he has done so from the pool in his multi-million dollar mansion and smoking-hot partner. There is no doubt in denying how attractive Veronika Khomyn is. Although, one of the qualifications to be initiated into the “Hot Los Angeles Resident Club (HLARC)” is going under the knife an ample amount of times and having collagen injected into your face. There was a point where the camera zoomed in, and Khomyn’s facial muscles remained still while speaking. 

  • [TV] Static Stats:

This was predictable. It’s hard to imagine that people want to watch Zoom meetings on TV between a team that was featured four years ago and a team that falls behind the LA Sparks in the audience’s attention. No offense, ladies.

  • The NBA playoffs are rounding into shape inside of the Orlando Bubble
  • Rob Manfred might have had suffered symptoms of a brain aneurysm when the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals had a coronavirus outbreak that rivaled a college sophomore on Spring Break. BUT the MLB has emphatically stated that it will finish its 60-game season.
  • The NHL is lapping the field with its phenomenal protocol of COVID–19 screening and prepping for juicy matchups for the playoffs. Playoff Hockey always captures eyeballs on the television.  

Real, authentic sports that you can enjoy and gamble on will take precedence over a seemingly “virtual” training camp with no preseason games. 

  • The Chargers Will Always Charger All Over Themselves:
  1. Leave it to the Chargers, who, in their grand opening of SoFi Stadium, will most likely not have any fans to welcome their team when they debut it in Week 2 versus the Chiefs.
  2. In the 15 seasons that HBO Hard Knocks has rolled out the red carpet for each team, there was only ONE spotlight. It only makes sense that the year that the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles County are selected for national exposure, they have to share the camera with a team that has already been featured in the past. That would be like if you were a child, your parents divorced, your mom ends up sleeping with another guy who has a son that is your age, and you two share the same birthday. 

I am an unabashed San Diego professional sports fan who has witnessed worst televised heartbreaks than Ryan Calhoun did in The Notebook. Dean Spanos uprooting the Chargers and planting them in a soccer stadium in Carson, California takes the cake. 

  • Jalen Ramsey Storming Off, Has He Changed?

I can understand and appreciate the frustration that Ramsey displayed. Truthfully, his answer to the reporters wasn’t that egregious. His reaction on the other hand. . . I can also attest to how difficult it is to get an understandable answer from a professional athlete in a media session, though. 

  • Joey Bosa’s Contract:

When healthy, Bosa has proven that he is worthy of a five-year, $135 million extension. Just ask PFF (Pro Football Focus) that has created ridiculous statistics to measure his worthiness. They sound like those sabermetrician geeks in baseball who have never played the game. 

Also worth noting, Spanos was notoriously stingy in San Diego. Now, he forks over the most expensive contract in franchise history.

  • Aaron Donald Proves He’s Human:

Aside from looking like the ripped bodybuilder who hogs all of the dumbbells at 24 Hour Fitness, Donald was filmed giving blood for an Antibody test. The former Defensive Player of the Year looked a tad squeamish while the syringe was injected into his vein.

  • The Annual Cut:

Episode one was bizarre. No discussion. Granted, the Hard Knocks production crew tried to stay consistent. They did so by planting a camera in the corner of the ceiling while filming Anthony Lynn conducting the hardest part of his job: releasing a player of his duties whose livelihood hangs in the balance for many to witness.

  • COVID–19 OUTCAST:

The scene where Anthony Lynn is working at his desk and Dr. Martin (the Chargers team psychologist) greets the fourth-year head coach and asks Anthony about his personal experience regarding his positive coronavirus test. “The first day, you feel like an outcast.” 

This scene set off an alarm in my head. 

I also, unfortunately, tested positive around the same time. Aside from almost facing death because my oxygen levels were so low in the hospital, I could relate to what Lynn was saying. It was one of the biggest mental hurdles to overcome. I would never wish for anyone to be infected, but it was reassuring to hear him explain to a national audience the significance of this deadly virus.

Bring on more weirdness in Episode Two.

Tuesday, August 18th. HBO– 7:00 PM (PST)

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