bill bodkin gets in the huddle with hbo’s acclaimed series…
The Miami Dolphins haven’t exactly been the darlings of the National Football League for the past few decades. Outside of Dan Marino’s Isotoner commercials and being an integral part of the storyline of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the Fins haven’t exactly been culturally relevant. Outside of their miracle undefeated season back in the early 70s, the team has been the football equivalent of the New York Knicks basketball team — always full of promise and potential, but in the end they leave their fans pulling their hair out of their head with poor decision after poor decision causing iconic franchise players (Dan Marino for The Dolphins, Patrick Ewing for The Knicks) careers to go without a title.
Yet, as the credits rolled on this season’s installment of HBO’s sports doc series, Hard Knocks, one cannot help but feel attached to and engrossed in the Miami Dolphins franchise.
Hard Knocks is must-see TV for NFL fans. Viewing the series really gets you hyped for the upcoming season. Watching the beautifully HD filmed scenes of circus catches, linemen battling in the trenches and perfect spirals, invigorates the long dormant pigskin passion that’s been slumbering in your soul.
However this is not the most engrossing part of the series — it’s actually the drama and the people involved in the Miami Dolphins organization. We’re immediately hit in the gut with the humanity and cruelty of NFL training camp in the opening of the show as a young offensive lineman, teeming with enthusiasm about being on an NFL roster, is cut from the Dolphins even before camp even starts. It’s a dramatic body blow that reinforces the fact that this series isn’t just an NFL Films highlight this an actual dramatic series.
And with any good HBO drama, Hard Knocks is chock full of interesting characters. Let’s look at some of them…
Chad Johnson - The wide receiver formerly known as Chad Ochocino is probably going to be the standout of this series much like he was a few years ago when Hard Knocks covered his former team, The Bengals. Johnson is one of the most colorful personalities in NFL history and is not afraid to play up to the camera. While he may be brash and foulmouthed, you kinda feel for the guy. After a dreadful season with the New England Patriots last year, many are calling him over and done with. Some are even saying he was signed just to give the Dolphins an interesting character for this show. However, you can see the dedication and talent this guy has during the football sequences and one has to think he could be in store for a renaissance year.
Ryan Tannehill - Another Fin knocked for his celebrity status. Well, actually his celeb status came from the fact everyone is over the moon about his wife Lauren. Don’t get me wrong she’s an attractive lady, but she’s not the end all, be all. It’s no doubt she’s going to become a big focus of the series, which frankly could be a little annoying. However, Tannehill has a good TV personality and is involved in the series’ biggest storyline — the Dolphins quarterback battle.
Matt Moore and David Garrad - Two veteran QB’s battling for the starting job in Miami. HBO will undoubtedly put their narrative support behind the matinee idol and his wife, but these are the two you’re going to be watching. Both seem like genuinely good dudes — Moore, a journeyman QB who was one of the few bright spots on last year’s Dolphins while Garrard is the seasoned vet making a comeback after missing all of last year with a back injury.
Joe Philbin - He’s the x-factor of the whole show. At times he seems kinda like a stuffed suit, a little on the boring side yet he shows hints of a hard-nosed, old school head coach as well as someone who has a decent sense of humor. It’ll be interesting to see how he progresses this year.
Les Brown - The fleet-footed tight end who hasn’t played a lick of football since high school. A cute story, but this guy cannot block to save his life. I mean he’s absolutely atrocious. I think he’ll be one of those members of the show who we’ll grow attached to only to see him cut at the end of the camp.
Reggie Bush - The former Heisman trophy winner and Kim Kardashian boyfriend wasn’t prominently featured in the premiere episode, but from the trailer for the second episode, it looks as though he’ll take a featured role…and well he should. This is the Dolphins’ sole superstar, the most marketable guy on the team and someone mainstream audiences can identify and connect with.
So, if you’re a football fan or someone who enjoys documentary series, Hard Knocks, is a show you have to watch. If it can make a marginalized team like The Dolphins seem that interesting and compelling, you know this show not has to be that good…but it can only get better.