This has been a very entertaining season, loaded with gruesome/bizarre injuries, a focused but hilarious coaching staff, and literal hard knocks on the field. Yet, we are four episodes into this year’s Hard Knocks, and there is still no mention of the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, Nevada. Many loyal black & silver fans are at odds against the 558-mile move across the desert and capturing their pain of losing a home team could make for some of HBO’s most interesting sports storytelling. Nevertheless, I digress and present to you HBOWatch’s analysis of Hard Knocks Episode 4: Knock on Wood.
Whenever Coach Jon Gruden makes a profound statement, it is followed by the secondary statement: “Knock on wood if you are with me.” Gruden is well aware that this combination of words is often associated with superstitious persons, and not practical and driven individuals. However, Coach Gruden uses this as an exercise of synergy and acknowledgment of understanding for his players. Guess who the HBO camera crew caught not participating? You guessed it…that damn Antonio Brown. Perhaps AB simply mentally acknowledges what is being said, but this is also questionable because he failed to ‘knock on wood’ twice and looked very uninterested. AB continues to work through his injury and puts on a decent performance during this week’s preseason game. However, one can’t help but wonder if AB’s career will be analogous to that of Terrell Owens; a Hall-of-Fame player that was eventually let-go because their production did not outweigh the trouble that followed them.
Despite not a single word not being mentioned regarding the move to Las Vegas (yes, I need to let this go, but I can’t), one of the most memorable moments of HBO Sports’ history transpires. This week, the Oakland Raiders faced the Green Bay Packers for their third preseason game this year. In this game, the gridiron was only 80 Yards long. This was due to the NFL’s concern that the potholes from the previous positionings of the goalposts had not fully settled, thus creating a hazard for anyone crossing the goal line. Thus, the goal lines were moved back 10 yards on each side of the field. The situation was so outlandish that Jon Gruden and the opposing team gazed at the referees like deer entranced by headlights as the reasoning for playing on the shortened field were explained. Many football fans and sports commentators have criticized the NFL for not canceling the game.
The Raider’s record improved to 3-0, in what certainly a team effort, but nearly a two-man show with marvelous athletic performances from Wide Receiver Keelan Doss(pictured with the ball) and Quarterback Nathan Peterman. Carr’s starting quarterback position is most likely still set-in-stone, however, Peterman has most likely cinched backup QB. Doss’ future isn’t as certain, however but it would be a complete shocker if the 23-year-old undrafted UC Davis rookie isn’t on the roster. He has the most receptions, yards and touchdowns. If Doss secures a spot on the team roster and this carries over into the regular season, Antonio Brown had better buckle down, or he will have to worry other prospective teams with his helmet issue and other baggage. Doss is performing well, knocks on wood when asked “are you with me”, and Jon Gruden has said on several occasions, “I like this Doss kid”. I am assuming that the coaching staff has concerns for the defense. The Raiders defeated the Packers 22-21, with all of the Packers’ points being scored at will in the 2nd quarter.
Here’s to hoping the fifth episode dedicates more time to the Raiders’ defense, the move to Las Vegas and its impact on the fans, and less on the antics of the good but very replaceable Antonio Brown.