The Hard Knocks Power Rankings return for Episode 3, in which Aaron Maybin shows off his true talent, Taylor Mays continues his legendary journey into the bizarre, and the rookies get cheeky.
(And if you’re new to the scene, here is a reminder of how the Power Rankings work, and whose brilliant idea I ripped off.)
Last week, in case you missed it: Margus Hunt is NOT from England, Terrence Stephens channels K-Ci & JoJo, and monogamy!
“No man fears to do that which he knows he does well. In other words, if you know what the hell to do, you should have no anxiety in getting it done.” —Marvin Lewis, paraphrasing the Duke of Ellington.
1. Mike Zimmer
Zim charges into the top spot, and for more than simply his creative ability to work the F-word into every other sentence. One of the biggest NFL travesties of the past five seasons is that Zim has yet to be offered a head-coaching gig. This has certainly worked out well for the Bengals and their fans, but its unfair to a guy who more than deserves a chance to lead a team on his own. And if my expertise isn’t convincing enough—along with the performance of the team’s defense in recent years—then look no further than last night’s episode. In back-to-back conversations, Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict—the loosest of loose cannons—both displayed their ride-or-die feelings for Zim, with Pacman adding, “He’s the father I never had.” I bet there were a hearty handful of GMs from around the league last night pouring a tall glass of brown liquor and wondering why the heck they didn’t hire Mike Zimmer.
2. Aaron Maybin
The Hard Knocks crew did their damndest to make me feel guilty for poking fun at Maybin. The former first-round pick is, however, a talented artist…which is good, since he sucks at football. The paint was on the canvas in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Titans, with Maybin hardly breaking a sweat, hanging out on the sidelines. Nevertheless, kudos to the show for chronicling the fleeting security of an NFL roster spot for so many young men this time of year. Maybin also wins the award for “biggest discrepancy between on-camera time and on-field plays.”
Climbing higher and higher by the week. Delighting the minivan-driving viewers to no end, warming the soul of any young lady who had her heart broken in 10th grade by some too-cool-for-school wannabe jock, and forcing every 26-year-old frat bro watching this show while pre-gaming for the bars to completely reevaluate his immediate life goals. These are professional athletes—rich, successful, healthy, fit, good looking dudes in their mid-20s—and they’re all hopelessly in love. It’s unbelievable. They probably go home from practice every day, throw on a cable-knit sweater, and write poems or love songs while watching their collection of Rachel McAdams movies. Taylor Mays has known his girlfriend since high school and plays Barbie Uno with her. Gio Bernard reps his lady’s mom’s Honda Odyssey and has a friggin’ puppy running around the new apartment. Andy Dalton’s wife makes yet another appearance, reminding every male viewer to join that Pilates class, like, yesterday. And I suppose that’s your explanation right there: In theory, it’s perplexing that all of these dudes would be wifed up. But when you actually see the girls on camera—bravo, fellas. Bravo.
4. James Harrison
Harrison’s daily schedule: wakes at 5:30 a.m.; roams the streets in the hazy sunlight of the early-morning dawn, hunting for flesh and bones to feast on before the rest of the city stirs awake; drives to the stadium prior to anyone else’s arrival, gets a lift in; terrorizes rookies in the locker room like he’s Michael Myers on Halloween; frightens the local media with his calm, understated-yet-icy stare; tackle people, shower, protein shake; gets tiny needles shoved into every inch of flesh on his body.
5. The Rookie Show
Penis drawing on the telestrator. ‘Nuff said.
6. Andy Dalton
Just a few seasons ago, the Bengals roster was littered with criminals, arrests piling up faster than the late-night talk shows and comedian sports writers could poke fun at them. Now, the starting quarterback and arguably the team’s most recognizable player is handing out pre-game floss and getting pumped by blasting Christian rock on his iPod. Wut?
7. Pacman Jones
Pacman is the unheralded star of this season. He’s always lurking in the background of shots, strategically sitting next to Dalton or AJ Green in team meetings to assure camera time, instigating the James Harrison fright sessions, and dropping in hilarious comments or anecdotes, such as: “Hey Gio, they brought in a car so you can stop driving around that raggedy-ass van.” He can’t carry an entire episode, but he’s a master of stealing scenes. He’s basically the Bill Hader of Hard Knocks.
Not to be outdone by Zim’s proclivity for dropping F-bombs, the rest of the Bengals team and coaching staff took their profanity game to the next level. A rising tide lifts all boats.
9. Vontaze Burfict
The man has established himself as the team’s resident trash-talker, a necessary role on any NFL roster. And the Hard Knocks footage is just the tip of the iceberg. The man is always chirping—in the locker room, on the field, in the hallways. Before the end of the season, Jermaine Gresham might beat him with a pylon. Also, she hasn’t had any camera time yet, but Burfict has had a regular female visitor during the training camp practices, and she fits right in with the rest of the bunch. Again, bravo.
10. Mike Brown
Leading Sunday morning meetings in the most monotone of monotone voices, cruising in the golf cart, getting affectionate knee taps from the starting running back. The boss is BACK.
Honorable Mention: James Harrison’s butt, the pronunciation of Jayson DiManche’s last name, Rey Maualuga differentiating “invisible” and “invincible,” the duck walk, Taylor Mays’s Ninja Turtles backpack, Iron Man’s affinity for Gwyneth Paltrow.