So the rumor mill was spitting out information last week that the decision makers behind Hard Knocks, HBO's voyeuristic peephole into training camp life in the NFL, had the Cleveland Browns in their sights as the subject for this summer's edition.
I'm guessing there were some pretty formulaic reasons behind that, 98 percent of them centered around one Johnny Football. He's getting out of rehab! He's battling for his football life! All his celebrity friends have ditched him! Hey, I get it. Nobody likes a good train wreck more than I do (one of the many reasons I love myself so much!).
But honestly, does the Johnny Football story really have five weeks' worth of content? Does it really have any legs aside from the two that will take Johnny to and from the building every day? What if he truly is rehabilitated from his alcohol addiction and is snuggling with his playbook every night?
Worst season of Hard Knocks ever, right? So I ask you this...why NOT the Texans?
For the first time that I can remember, someone in a position of leadership with the Texans -- in this case, THE person in a position of leadership, owner Bob McNair -- has publicly NOT SAID "HELL NO" to Hard Knocks! This is encouraging!
"It's something we're considering, but I haven't decided. It's a distraction, but it's something people like to see. Our first responsibility is to do everything we can to win on the field. So the question is, what impact does that have on you?"
Now to be clear, like the Browns, the Texans can't really decide anything about HBO showing up with cameras, because it's not their decision to make. The Texans are one of a handful of teams that the league can tell, "YOU WILL DO HARD KNOCKS..." That's because the Texans a) don't have a first-year head coach, b) haven't made the postseason in two years and c) haven't been on Hard Knocks in the past decade. Those are the criteria for immunity to being mandated to do Hard Knocks.
In years past, it would've been fun for us in Houston to see the Texans on the show, but honestly, they were pretty milquetoast and boring under Gary Kubiak. I mean, what would, say, the 2010 team have had for decent content? Frank Bush drawing stick figures? Gary Kubiak getting a haircut? Cribbage with Schaubbie?
But 2015? Oh man, how the Texans have evolved...like the good little kid in kindergarten all of a sudden becoming the rambunctious middle schooler. They are flush with story lines, people! FLUSH, I TELL YOU! Here are ten bullet points that I would make the foundation of my pitch to the Hard Knocks producers:
10. Life after Andre Johnson The Texans just released the greatest player in the short history of their team after they told him (reportedly) that his role could shrink to 40 catches next season...which still would've been good enough for second on the team in 2014. How is DeAndre Hopkins adapting to being the capo of his own crew? More important, how does he feel when he looks around and sees that his crew is Cecil Shorts, Damaris Johnson, Keshawn Martin and DeVier Posey? It's like Tony Soprano took all the dipshit gangsters and gave them all to Paulie Walnuts.
9. Arian Foster doing Arian things Iambic pentameter, Egypt, astrology, sheepishly telling local media members that their questions suck...Arian Foster has the potential to come away from this thing with a gig in WWE as a smarmy, aloof heel. And I say that with the utmost respect and admiration for Arian Foster. I am a big fan of his dismissiveness, this is documented.
8. Following D.J. Swearinger pretty much anywhere Canine care tips from Swearinger, bargain shopping tips for tricking out your ride ("Here's how you drive off without paying...WATCH..."), the D.J. potential is off the charts. I'm already giddy about the vignette from the guy who owned the shop where D.J. skipped out on paying for his Batman logo on his truck. Potential Top 5 Hard Knocks moment.
7. Vince Wilfork with his apprentice Louis Nix My only request here is that all of the mentoring scenes between Wilfork and Nix need to be done with the two of them wearing the Obi Wan and Luke getups that they had on in Episode IV. Like the Tatooine desert shit. Khaki and tan colors, with the loose-fitting shirts and goofy boots. Oh, and they have to have light-saber fights using turkey legs. That is all.
6. Randy Bullock, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives Speaking of turkey legs...
5. Coaching staff stars Okay, all kidding aside, every season of Hard Knocks, the show creates new stars on the coaching staff. Rex Ryan's season was legendary, but think even to last season. I came out of the Falcons' season of Hard Knocks wanting Bryan Cox not only as my coach, but also my really cool uncle. I think this show would make Bill O'Brien a "future TV short list" guy, and my cohost Ted Johnson insists America would fall in love with linebackers coach Mike Vrabel.
4. The Jadeveon Clowney rebuild Again, staying with the Star Wars theme, when Clowney's ready, they need to have him strapped to a table in a Darth Vader outfit and unshackle him like they did after they rebuilt Anakin. Then they can inform him that Padme is dead so he can scream "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"
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3. Bob McNair and David Quessenberry No jokes here...an owner and a player battling and defeating cancer? Are you kidding me? Seriously, HBO, why are you even making me do this post?
2. An actual QB competition Every season, Hard Knocks has a story of some QB who's trying to make the roster. Honestly, it's compelling, but wouldn't you rather have an actual competition for the starting role as opposed to a guy trying to make the practice squad? The Texans are having an actual competition between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett! The show has generally featured teams who have locked in their starting quarterback. This would be a fun new wrinkle. It would also be the No. 1 reason Bill O'Brien might punch a wall if and when he finds out the Texans have been chosen for the show.
1. J.J. Watt Last year's Hard Knocks took every cue from WWE in showing J.J. Watt entering the practice field against the Falcons. This would be the next logical step to J.J. getting his own Football Life episode.