Most memorable 'Hard Knocks' moments: From J.J. Watt workouts to rants from Rex Ryan and Bob Wylie
On Tuesday night, the 16th season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" kicks off as NFL Films' sports reality documentary series follows the training camp and preseason exploits of the Dallas Cowboys.
This will be the third season that the Cowboys will be featured on the show (2002 and 2008); the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams have each appeared on the show twice.
If viewers are lucky, the Cowboys will provide a moment or two that could be considered among the best the show has ever produced.
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So cue up David Robidoux's iconic theme music, and enjoy 16 of the most memorable moments from "Hard Knocks":
(Warning: Many of the videos below contain NSFW language.)
16. 2018 Browns — Carl Nassib, financial advisor
Carl Nassib was one of a healthy number of breakout stars when the "Hard Knocks" crew followed the Cleveland Browns -- he revealed that he believes aliens are real and didn't appreciate offensive coordinator Todd Haley making fun of his first name.
But the moment that was most memorable was Nassib giving financial advice to his teammates.
"Who knows what compound interest is? This is real (expletive)," Nassib says. "Financial advisors are everywhere. They’ll (expletive) take your money and they’ll take one percent of everything you got, and you’ll be like 'Oh it's one percent it doesn’t (expletive) matter.' It matters. It matters a (expletive) lot."
15. 2019 Raiders — 'I'm into (expletive) nightmares'
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden provided a number of zingers for the "Hard Knocks" cameras. From his familiar "knock on wood if you're with me" slogan to telling receiver Keelan Doss that he's "more excited to see you play than I am to see my wife, and I haven't seen her in two weeks."
"Everybody right now has dreams, don't they guys?" Gruden says. "I got a dream of winning the Super Bowl. I got a dream of being in the Pro Bowl. I'm not really into dreams, anymore. I'm into (expletive) nightmares. Guys with me on that?
"You gotta end somebody's dream. You gotta take their job. You gotta take their heart. You guys clear about this NFL (expletive) now? We're not trying to go to the Peach Bowl. We're not trying to go to the Gator Bowl or the Bluebonnet Bowl. We're trying to go to the Super Bowl."
The Bluebonnet Bowl, by the way, hasn't been played since 1987.
14. 2012 Dolphins — Vontae Davis gets traded
"Hard Knocks" viewers had grown accustomed to players getting dealt the devastating news that they'd been released and — for many — that their pro football dreams were over.
During the 2012 series with the Miami Dolphins, people saw a player learn he was being traded. It was awkward. Immediately after Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland delivers the news to Davis, the new Indianapolis Colts cornerback wants to call his grandmother. Ireland levels with him.
"You know Vontae, you're kind of up and down," Ireland tells him.
It worked out well for Davis, who went on to become a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Colts.
13. 2010 Jets — Darrelle Revis' return caps season
Darrelle Revis' offseason holdout played out on reality television as "Hard Knocks" followed the Jets, giving viewers an inside-the-team headquarters view of the intense negotiations.
By the season finale, a deal was struck and "Revis Island" appeared at practice to the applause of his teammates. It was an appropriate capper to one of the best seasons of "Hard Knocks."
12. 2019 Raiders — Antonio Brown's eventful camp
Antonio Brown never played a down for the Oakland Raiders, but he sure did take up a lot of air time during the 2019 edition of "Hard Knocks."
From showing up to training camp in a hot-air balloon — "float like a butterfly, sting like AB" — to his refusal to wear a league-mandated helmet — "This lid? This lid ugly as (expletive) yo." But, Brown showing viewer's his cryotherapy-damaged feet that prevented him from practicing was quite something.
"Yeah, I (expletive) got circumcised on my feet, you know," Brown said.
11. 2016 Rams — Jeff Fisher's 7-9 rant
When "Hard Knocks" followed the Los Angeles Rams, version 2.0, in 2016, the team was coming off its second 7-9 finish in three seasons. Fisher had seen enough nonsense during a morning practice session and laid into his team.
"You follow me?” Fisher said. “I am not (expletive) going 7-9 or 8-8 or 9-7, OK? Or 10-6 for that matter. This team is too talented. I am not going to settle for that, OK? I know what I am doing. We had some 7-9 (expletive) this morning. Now, Deon’s gone. That is 7-9 (expletive). We don’t need it."
The "Deon" who Fisher references is wide receiver Deon Long, who was released for violating a team rule (bringing a female visitor to his dorm room).
After a 4-9 start to the 2016 season, Fisher was fired by the Rams.
10. 2012 Dolphins — Chad Johnson gets cut after arrest
A day after an arrest on a domestic violence charge, Johnson was called into the office of head coach Joe Philbin and subsequently released.
Just three years earlier, Johnson — then known as Chad Ochocinco — was one of the stars of "Hard Knocks" featuring the Cincinnati Bengals, talking about his catchphrases such as "child please" and "kiss da baby."
When Johnson's brief tenure with the Dolphins came to an end, so did his NFL career.
9. 2018 Browns — Coaches meeting
It was quite apparent during the 2018 edition of "Hard Knocks" that Hue Jackson wasn't long for the head coach's chair, and it all started in the first episode.
Jackson, coming off an 0-16 season, was questioned by then-running backs coach Freddie Kitchens over his decision to not dress injured players at practice, specifically running back Duke Johnson. Todd Haley, then the offensive coordinator, came to Kitchens' defense. Jackson wasn't having any of it.
"The chair I sit in, it's a little different than the chair you guys sit in. I get to watch from a different lens. I think you guys can all respect that," Jackson said. "At the end of the day, I get to drive this bus. And I'm going to get it the way I want it."
Jackson was fired that season after the Browns started 2-5-1.
8. 2016 Rams — Player denies dinosaurs existed
Defensive end William Hayes provided much-needed levity in what was a rather dull season featuring the newly relocated Rams in their first season in Los Angeles. Hayes had some thoughts, most notably that dinosaurs are a hoax and that mermaids exist. A "mermaid" showed up to Rams practice, too, much to the delight of Hayes.
Less than a year later, Hayes was traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for "a stapler and a coffee machine."
7. 2015 Texans — Vince Wilfork shows up in overalls
Entering his first season with the Houston Texans, Vince Wilfork opted to embrace his new home by showing up to training camp shirtless and wearing overalls and cowboy boots. Wilfork had a starring role in the show, as he also took on U.S. World Cup winner Carli Lloyd in a field goal contest.
6. 2018 Browns — Jarvis Landry delivers epic speech
Landry, entering his first season with the Browns, unleashed a 1,080-word, expletive-laced speech in the receivers room.
"I don’t know what the (expletive) has been going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here, but this — if you’re not hurt, if your hamstring ain’t falling off the (expletive) bone, if your leg ain’t broke, I don’t know, you should be (expletive) practicing. Straight up. That (expletive) is weakness. That (expletive) is contagious as (expletive), and that (expletive) ain’t going to be in this room,” Landry said.
Browns rookie receiver Blake Jackson later staged a spoof of Landry's speech, and the results were hilarious.
5. 2007 Chiefs — Dance off
Bernard Pollard has moves.
"This is how we do it in Fort Wayne. We got dancers. We got dancers in Fort Wayne. I'm gonna show y'all."
You were warned.
4. 2015 Texans — J.J. Watt puts in work
J.J. Watt is an intense dude, and NFL Films caught how dedicated the defensive end is to his craft. Watt first is shown lifting 1,000-pound tires. Later, there's a post-practice workout when Watt practices pass-rushing moves on tackling dummies, takes on blocking sleds, catches balls from the JUGS machine and, for good measure, does some running.
A year earlier, during the Falcons' "Hard Knocks" series, Watt — then embarking on the second of what would be three NFL defensive player of the year seasons — made a dramatic entrance and proceeded to dominate Falcons rookie lineman Jake Matthews (in front of his Hall of Fame father, too) during a scrimmage. So, when the Texans were announced to be the "Hard Knocks" team the following year, you just knew Watt would be one of the attractions. He didn't let viewers down.
3. 2001 Ravens — Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis impressions
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were the so-called guinea pig in this experiment by NFL Films and HBO back in 2001. The highlight of the first season of "Hard Knocks" was the rookie talent show, which featured spectacular impersonations of future Pro Football Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis.
2. 2018 Browns — Bob Wylie on stretching and the Normandy invasion
Then, of course, there was the epic rant about stretching and D-Day.
"Did you know, World War I and World War II, all those guys that fought in that war ... they did pushups, jumping jacks, situps, climb the rope and ran. None of this fancy (expletive). And they won two World Wars," Wylie said. "Do you think they were worried when they were running across Normandy about (expletive) stretching?"
No, they weren't. And there are no reports of pulled hamstrings in the history books, either.
1. 2010 Jets — Let's go eat a snack!
This is the transcendent "Hard Knocks" moment.
Coach Rex Ryan wasn't pleased with his New York Jets, and gave them a verbal dressing-down that ended with what is the most famous line ever uttered on "Hard Knocks."
"Let’s make sure we play like the (expletive) New York Jets and not some (expletive) slap (expletive) team. That’s what I want to see tomorrow. Do we understand what the (expletive) I want to see tomorrow? Let’s go eat a (expletive) snack."
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