As this week’s episode of Hard Knocks mainly focused on the linebackers, we were treated to an unusual amount of that group and, in particular, linebackers coach Paul Guenther. Guenther, for those of you who don’t know, is currently being played on Hard Knocks by Jonah Hill, and exhibits similar characteristics around his players to those Hill embodies around people such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jay-Z. Those characteristics being the way a dorky, chubby school-boy acts when he gets in with the cool kids because he has pot—he swears too much and awkwardly tries too hard to nonchalantly be “bros”.
This sort of thing doesn’t fly with James Harrison. We know this because Harrison, for once, spent some time with the HBO cameras, presumably to give some publicity to his acupuncturist. She kindly told us that Harrison demanded 300 needles per sitting, despite the fact that the previous all time record was 230. HBO then kindly showed us a very naked James Harrison pinned with, I guess, 300 needles, as if to prove to us that this was true. This was unnecessary, as at this point there are almost no physical feats of which viewers would not believe possible of Harrison. James Harrison eats four live goats for breakfast every day? I buy it. Harrison pushes glass through his eye before each snap to help him focus? No doubt. This segment ended with the acupuncturist explaining Harrison was able to take the needles because he was “so dense”. Men have been killed for less.
Fortunately HBO quickly took our minds of the naked, be-needled Harrison with a peculiar 45 second montage of various shots of ice and water at training camp, solely, it seems, so Liev Schreiber could announce something about having “ice water in your veins.” They’re really loving these sorts of puns. While the episode focused on potential roster cuts—would Jason DiManche’s hyperactivity make up for how quickly he ran out of energy against the Titans? How long would it be before the Bengals cut the artistic and needle-free Aaron Maybin? (Spoiler: not long)—it was also full of humor. Sometimes it was deliberate (WR Roy Roundtree’s depiction of Taylor Mays’s Jersey Shore persona at the Rookie Talent Show brought the house down), sometimes it was accidental (Mays insistence that Iron Man “loves Gwyneth Paltrow”), and sometimes it was hard to tell (Andy Dalton making his receivers floss pre-game before singing out-of-tune gospel music and telling them all how handsome he is).
The highlight, however, was undoubtedly Marvin Lewis showing a video on how to be a great teammate as well as a role model, a video which proved to be “The Law Firm” getting a golf-cart ride to practice from owner Mike Brown, complete with Green-Ellis patting Brown on the knee as he exited, a move Marv highlighted for the team while comically asking the rest of the players individually if they ever got rides to practice from the owner.
This wasn’t to be Mr Brown’s last involvement. Oh no. The Bengals don’t have to cut anyone until Saturday, but lest anyone mistake Mike Brown for a cuddly great uncle who only worries about the foreign players making friends (see Episode Two) viewers were privileged to see him in true evil Don style, instructing his capos (a room full of coaches ALL of whom refused to make eye-contact) to cut the deadwood, in a way that suggested he actually expected them to be murdered and thrown into the Ohio River. He may not have said “sleeping with the fishes” but I’m pretty sure he said he expected them to be “taken care of, capisce?” Gulp. And that was the end of Aaron Maybin’s time as a Bengal.
-Even Andy Dalton’s wife doesn’t sound convinced that Taylor Mays has a girlfriend. As if to prove her wrong, viewers then watched Mays hang out with a girl he “knew from high school” playing “Go Fish” and talking about his Ninja Turtle backpack collection.
-Mike Zimmer has a deer head above his desk. As of yet, no confirmation as to whether Zim himself killed it after the deer blew a coverage assignment.
-Mike Zimmer, who has spent 3 seasons on Hard Knocks swearing like a Scorcese movie, calling somebody a “gooseball.” I looked it up, and Urban Dictionary defined it as “a silly person who doesn’t think the right way.” This is the cutest moment since Geno Atkins thought “flamboyant” meant “able to float.”
-George Iloka broke his hand punching a rookie in the helmet. Taylor Mays has mentioned super heroes at an average of 4.2 times per episode and, well, collects Ninja Turtle backpacks (complete with the accompanying purple facemask). And people worry that we have a problem at starting safety?
-As Marv cut Maybin they each called the other classy. Both were right.