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Chris Chase

HBO "Hard Knocks" recap: The Jets get down with triple Asian flu

Chris Chase
Shutdown Corner

Previously: Forgetting every cautionary tale he's ever heard, Mark Sanchez(notes) stares at the sun, old-looking rookie Joe McKnight(notes) struggles, Vernon Gholsten goes through football puberty, and the New York Jets' second-string is ugly.

Intro. At the end of the package Rex Ryan stares down the Lombardi trophy. It's half out of lust, half out of curiosity about whether there are Peanut M&Ms inside. Sad faces in the locker room after the first preseason game. Kris Jenkins(notes) gives a rather uninspiring speech, showing that oratory skills need four weeks of practice before hitting their stride too. I wonder if JFK went to training camp before his big speeches? If the Carlyle Hotel counts, then yes. Mike Tannenabum talks to Rex and casually looks around to make sure the camera is still on him before he continues speaking. Cut to Jenkins still giving his post-game speec. "I had a lot on this game," he announces. Watching on TV, Pete Rose shakes his head and says, "don't ADMIT that!"

On the road now at sunrise. The sun shines on the clock tower at SUNY-Cortland and the clock itself sort of looks like the one from "Back to the Future." Or it could be that all clocks on clock towers look like the one that helped Marty McFly go from 1955 to 1985. Mark Brunell(notes) remembers when McFly performed "Johnny B. Goode" at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. He had driven there with Joe McKnight. Rex tells the team they won the varsity game against the Giants but not the JV game. Mike Pettine, defensive coordinator, talks to the backups. "We sucked," he said. No mention of diddly-poo. Pettine doesn't want the team to watch the second half of the game because it might rub off on them. Don't show them last week's episode of "Hard Knocks" then or else there will be 53 babies in Jets day care nine months from now.

Training montage. Liev Schreiber voiceovers that special teams is the only hope for fringe players. Mike Westhoff wields the ax and people's heads are on the chopping block, he says. Immediately, an image of Louis XIV and Marie Antoniette pop into mind. Rex Ryan would have made a good French peasant because he happily would have accepted the offer to eat cake.

David Clowney(notes) needs to impress the coaches. I bet he wishes the Predator was named David Clowney, because then he'd be a shoo-in to make the team a la John Connor. Westhoff says he has been touting Clowney since Bush was president. The second Bush, presumably, because only Joe McKnight played during the first Bush administration. And probably one of Antonio Cromartie's(notes) kids too. (Also, the Bush Westhoff is talking about wasn't president that long ago. It was two seasons ago. That's like when my godfather talks about the good ol' days, but he means the last time Kansas won the NCAA basketball title.

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Woody Johnson looks like he was once a chill brah. I bet he played lax at boarding school and wore the 1970s equivalent of Croakies and summered in Maine. (Goes to search on Internet.) "He attended the elite Millbrook School in the Hudson Valley." Game. "For a time, Johnson wore long blond hair and a Fu Manchu mustache." Set. "He is one of the biggest Republican fund-raisers in the nation." Match.

Matt Mulligan is on the ragged edge of the roster, Liev says. He's only managed one catch in two seasons. "I don't give a [expletive] if you got the triple [expletive] asian flu," Westhoff tells him. "If we call red you get your ass to the outside and don't let that guy escape." One catch isn't great, but at least he's not so bad that he can't catch the flu. And a rare, "triple [expletive] Asian flu" at that. That's better than Braylon Edwards(notes), who doesn't even need a flu shot because he's unable to catch it.

Nothing is going right in the practice after the loss to the Giants. Rex can't wait to get off the field and he tells the team so. "This practice wasn't worth a [expletive]. Coming out here after a game, sluggish, dragging ass, doing all that kind of stuff, wasn't good enough. When we come back after a game we gotta be ready to [expletive] roll." After a break last week, the cursing is back in full force. Either Rex surreptitiously cancelled his mom's HBO subscription or Steve Sabol cracked some skulls at NFL Films. I prefer to believe it's the latter.

Training bikes! Injuries! Tannenbaum talks on a cell phone away from the action like he wants to be private, yet he's still wearing a microphone pack so we can here everything he says. IGNORE. And before you say I'm being too mean to the GM for ignoring him; don't worry, he's used to it. Darrelle Revis'(notes) agent has been doing it for weeks.

There's a punting battle brewing, although we use that term loosely. This is as much a battle as something involving the French army. A youngster named T.J. Conley(notes) is trying to unseat incumbent Steve Weatherford(notes) and it's an uphill battle because, last time I checked, Conley didn't buy 100 Shake Weights for everyone. Conley goes into Rex's office and quickly mutes his cell phone with the haste of a man who clearly has learned his lesson about this once before. Rex hems and haws for a bit before cutting T.J. and you can see he doesn't like this part too much. I'm sure most coaches don't, Bill Belichick excepted. He's probably all Mr. Burns-like during cuts, trap door and all. Rex is confident somebody will pick up Conley. The ex-Jets punter is wearing leggings and flip-flops, so I'm looking in your direction, Chargers.

The annual rookie show is tomorrow night and Rex and Tannenbaum negotiate with a magician who wants $3,500. "U.S. American dollars?" Tannenbaum asks. Every week we get more insight into why Revis still isn't in camp. They eventually knock David Copperfield down to 2,500, but we're unclear whether that's dollars, Euros, rubles or Shake Weights. Tannenbaum pats himself on the back because it's the first negotiation he's had filmed and won in a long time.

Weights montage.

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Three days left of camp and things are getting chippy, Liev tells us. As if to prove Liev's trustworthiness (and why wouldn't we believe him -- the man starred in "Hurricane" and there was nothing factually incorrect with that movie), we see visual evidence of said chippiness. Matt Slauson(notes), guard, and Matt Kroul(notes), defensive lineman, exchange some shoves before things get broken up. Why would you ever break up a fight between two 300-pound men wearing pads?

Nobody gets in fights with Ropati Pitoitua(notes). He's 6-feet-8, has hair that makes him look like a Samoan Dr. J and weighs 315 pounds. Rex loves him and Pettine thinks he's on his way to becoming a varsity player. By the rules of reality television, the fact that we're talking about Pitoitua now means one thing: Someting bad happens to him later in the episode. (I call this the "Top Chef Corollary." On each episode of that show, whoever gives the first voiceover about their family or their restaurant or their long road to success or how much they need the money is invariably who goes home that night. It extends to "Hard Knocks" too. If you're getting a quick life story edit, expect to see a pink slip in your future.)

Coaches play an online version of "Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader." They stump someone with a question about how many feet are in a yard and we're supposed to take away that this guy is dumb. He doesn't know this basic fact? Idiot. But, wait. Let's not jump to conclusions. Maybe he's British or a huge fan of the metric system. Or maybe he actually knew the answer but directors had him do it again and then he forgot on the second take. Right, Antonio?

Braylon works out with Tannenbaum, Ryan and Johnson, and if you thought Woody Johnson wears a hat all the time because he's bald then you are smarter than a fifth grader. It's probably not for lack of effort that Johnson & Johnson has no hair-growth remedies. Manchez thinks he can beat Cromartie in an impromptu sprint to the goal line. Brunell tells him no, possibly because he thinks if Manchez succeeds it will make his daughter find the young quarterback even cuter. (Brunell's daughter isn't bad herself.)

Adam Tadisch(notes) is a YouTube favorite because of a play he made in the Arena League where he caught a lineman-eligible pass and rumbled 15 yards to the end zone. Hearing that YouTube greatness begats football greatness, Tannenbaum immediately places a call to Justin Beiber's agent.

Brian Jackson(notes) doesn't seem to get it. "Instead of taking his medicine, he gets mouthy," DB coach Dennis Thurman says. The coach gets in the rookie's face and, here's a tip, don't talk back to Dennis Thurman. "I've been called an angry black man and it's true." Kris Jenkins says Jackson likes to mouth off and talk trash. Pot and kettle? Greetings. Thurman and Jenkins make plans to put Jackson in his place. "The dude is overdue." After a post-practice huddle, Jenkins grabs him by a bear hug and a bunch of teammates tie him up. Jason Taylor(notes) helps out. And there's the first and last time you'll see him contribute this year. They drag Jackson to the goal post and put baby powder, Flexall, hot sauce, Gatorade and whatever else they can find on him. All things considered, Jackson takes it tremendously well, but maybe his face is just nu

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mb from the Icy Hot.

Danny Woodhead(notes) was the Division II all-time leading rusher. Jason Davis(notes) says he would have been a Hall of Famer in the 1950s, which is a PC way of saying he's a small white guy. Henry Ellard calls him Rudy, which is a PC way of saying he's a small white guy. Another small guy, 5-foot-6 Larry Taylor(notes), also is in camp, says Liev. Rex says that if someone on the defense throws a 65-yard pass, he'll end practice. Brian Jackson steps up and launches it 80 yards. As Jeff George knows, being mouthy doesn't mean you can't have a canon. Or an awesome mullet. "Holy [expletive]," Rex says of the throw. "See you later."

Tannenbaum and Rex talk about cuts. Is it Woodhead? Or the Samoan? Or Jason Davis? Is it Lance? Mulligan? Or even that little Larry Taylor. My, it's exactly the players that have been featured all night! But this show isn't scripted at all, no.

The Rookie Show. There's a competition for King Ugly and money is awarded to the ugliest guy on the team. Third place gets 75 percent of the pot. Second place gets 25 percent. "First place get nothing because he's so ugly he doesn't deserve anything," says Rex. Brunell is on a Just for Men box and Brian Jackson is lucky they didn't put that on him earlier. The $2,500 magician is there and somebody mentions that his girlfriend is hot. Cut to the girlfriend. Cut to an affirming nod from Laverneus Coles. That's the first time he's smiled all of camp. Bart Scott(notes) says the magician should make Revis show up. "That'd be a hell of a trick." Nice work, Bart. The rookies show pictures of Jason Taylor lounging shirtless, and mock Westhoff and his assistant by insinuating that they're like dog and owner. Bo Smith(notes), DB sings. And he does something that defies description and gets booed off the stage. Braylon Edwards looks offended. King Ugly competition: Third: Vladimir Ducasse(notes). Second: Vladimir Ducasse, which means he gets 100 percent of the pot. Olivia Namath is jealous. First place of King Ugly: Brian Jackson. Manchez loves it. Jackson gets a cape, a plunger-scepter and a Burger King crown and suddenly Manchez doesn't like him as much because we all know Manchez loves himself some Taco Bell.

Camp is closing. Bart Scott talks about how it was like when he used to go to Boy Scout camp. I bet he got the [expletive] talking merit badge with ease.

Charlotte, N.C. Game No. 2. Manchez writes in red pen in a notebook and I guess it's a love letter to Mark Brunell's daughter, complete with hearts over the I's. Schotty wants the QB to be disciplined with his reads. Cue a montage of Manchez not being so disciplined with his reads. Special teams battles. Clowney recovers a fumble on a punt return and it makes me wonder how much such a play is valued by coaches. He did well, obviously. He was in position to recover the ball, he used his instincts to fall on it. He didn't stupidly try to pick it up and run with it. It's a good play. But there's also a bit of "right place, right time" luck to it. The Panthers player just dropped it and Clowney was there to pounce. Announcers always say, "that'll help him make the team." But will it? I guess we'll find out in episodes four and five.

Pitoitua gets hurt. "It's not an Achilles is it," he asks the trainer. "Yes." He gets picked up and carried to the cart by Jenkins. Pitoitua goes to the X-ray room and cameras are not allowed. I guess Darrelle Revis is the technician. Dr. Ken Montgomery doesn't mince words in the locker room. The tendon is torn and an MRI will likely confirm that. He probably needs surgery, but maybe not. Doc reports to Rex that Pitoitua is done for the year. Rex reports it to the booth. The booth tells members of the defense. It's like a game of telephone. By the end of the message chain "Pitoitua is out for the year" has turned to "Pitoitua has bout with deer. Purple monkey dishwasher." The injury room looks like a prison. FOSC (Friend of Shutdown Corner) Matt Terl took a picture of the Redskins X-ray room two years ago and it was even worse. You'd think that a team that nets $320 million a year could put a picture of a sailboat on the wall or have some back issues of Highlights for Children scattered throughout the place or something.

Rex loves a hit on a punt return, so much that he curses more times in the aftermath (four) than he did almost all last week. Chauncey Washington(notes) wants to make this team, Rex says. Replays show the hit was good, but more of a one-expletive tackle rather than a four. THIS is a four curser (RIP, SeanTay). Joe McKnight is playing like he wants the job, says Liev. In this economy, he better. The USC product fields a punt and the color announcer says he's taking it to the house. He returns it to the 9. The house must have zoning issues. Rex asks, "is he gonna puke right now?" And it looks like he is, but he holds on and doesn't even dry heave. So, Joe McKnight 1, Donovan McNabb 0.

The Jets win 9-3. The coaches meet at midfield. "All right Foxy," Rex says to John Fox, "that was a damn pillow fight." Liev VOs: "It's hard to tell if Rex Ryan will be looking at the glass half empty or half full." I'm going to guess that no matter what's in the glass, it will end up completely empty. Chauncey Washington gets a game ball. The team boards the plane and is quickly back in New York/New Jersey. Rap montage with quick cuts of the Jets being home: Hallway. A welcome sign written like a ransom note! Wii playing! Hashmark painting! Moving! Locker rooms! Hotel privacy signs for guys playing video games! Billiards! Vernon Gholsten's house! Wife-kissing! Rex Ryan playing Sudoku on his Kindle! Gatorade delivery!

Nick Mangold(notes) is signing a $55 million contract and writes the date without thinking at all about what the date is. I can never do that. I'm always making the "huh" face when writing the date and hope somebody will take sympathy upon me and tell me what day it is. Tannanbaum speaks from his pedestal and, ugh, I wouldn't want to sign there either, Revis. Dude's insufferable. I'm sure he's a nice man. I'm also sure he'd be the first to tell you that. "The Jets are pulling the plug on YouTube sensation Adam Tadisch," says Liev. Oh, come on writers. I know it's late but surely we could have come up with something better than that. "The Jets were to Viacom as Adam Tadisch was to a pirated clip of 'South Park'" or something like that. Tadisch says he's going back to Green Bay to live with his grandma. Oy, I take back the sarcasm.

Next week: The Jets are home and, uh, that seems to be it in terms of previews. Pretty slim pickings on footage, eh HBO? You know, last week we were promised a segment on Braylon Edwards' beard this week and we got nothing. I want my money back. In American dollars.

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