Hard Knocks is on HBO. We're talking about it. We might be the only people talking about it.
• Look, I'm not going to try to snow you here. I've been a Falcons fan since the team used to play before dozens in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. (Fun geometry fact about putting a football field in a circular stadium: the seats on the 50-yard-line are actually the farthest possible from the field. Whoops.) I do all I can to keep my biases out of stories I write on the Falcons. But when I see what's going on with "Hard Knocks," I just want to bang my head on the desk. Why? Because nobody seems to care ... and that will only lead to trouble going forward.
• Case in point: the image-management going on throughout this episode and, most likely, going forward. "Hard Knocks" is different from other reality shows in that it plays out in real time, not in a months-ago bottle we're only now uncorking. That means the participants can read about themselves and shape themselves as needed. Thus, in addition to Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff's biking expeditions with Lance Armstrong, we get head coach Mike Smith learning his way around the use of profanity and receiver Roddy White trying to strike that fine balance between quirky character and attention hound.
• We have our first cut! The episode opens with fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones in action, and it's the equivalent of a war movie when a soldier's talking about his plans when he gets back home to his best girl. You know that's never, ever going to happen, and soon enough, despite Nix-Jones' performance, he gets the call to Mike Smith's office.
• Oh, the Falcons are trying to show they're tough. So much so that, much like your idiot older brother on a dirt bike, they're injuring themselves trying to be cool. Rookie Ra'Shede Hegeman, trying to impress coach Bryan Cox with his toughness, manages to break his hand by hitting a teammate wearing a helmet. Brilliant.
• Following a hard hit in practice, one of Ricardo Allen's testicles swelled to four times the size of the other. Enjoy the cringe, gentlemen.
• Best moment: White rubbing the stomach of Harry Douglas' wife Kierra and telling them it was time for them to have a baby. Kierra told Harry, "I'm ready," and that was that. Roddy White: Fetus Whisperer.
• From a storytelling perspective, the sublime part of "Hard Knocks" is when the games begin, and we are there now. We can see the various spotlighted players actually in action, and some of them perform rather better than others. The Dolphins, of all teams, push around the Falcons early. Tyler Starr's kid even reveled in the fact that his dad wasn't doing anything! But as it turned out, the Falcons won, marking their first preseason victory in two years.
• Mike Smith offered some conflicting messages about whether he wants his guys to be tough or not. You go and start a fight in a Falcons uniform, first you'll be suspended, next you'll be lionized. No way that comes back to bite Atlanta at all.
Quote of the week:
"Reach down inside and get whatever the [heck] your mother gave you." -Bryan Cox