Jeff Pearlman

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Three takeaways from the first episode of Hard Knocks

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So I just watched the opening episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks with the Cleveland Browns. Wanted to offer my observations before going to bed …

• 1. Hue Jackson seems like a lovely guy. But I don’t think his coaches respect him: This comes off of the awkward moment midway through the episode, when a couple of assistants (including Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator) challenge Jackson’s position on injured players. The men showed their boss precious little respect, and I’ve gotta think—were this, say, Bill Parcells or George Allen—the episode ends with Haley either being kicked to the curb or having his ass chewed out. You just can’t have your head coach being publicly (for TV) undermined by an assistant with an overly ambitious history.

Haley: The look

Haley: The look

• 2. If you entered with the belief that Baker Mayfield is a cocky fuck, that won’t change: The kid just has a pretty unbearable strut, accompanied by a my-shit-don’t-stink grin. And maybe that’s not such an awful thing. Quarterbacks probably should have that mojo. But this is happening at the same time Tyrod Taylor comes off as humble, graceful, dogged. I’m already rooting for the veteran. Gotta think mist people are.

Jackson and Baker

Jackson and Baker

• 3. I hope these players don’t fall for the “family” nonsense: The word “family” seems to be uttered every 10 minutes by a coach, an administrator, a star. And I’m here to tell you, boys and girls: An NFL team is not a family. Family can’t cut you. Family doesn’t sign you to a non-guaranteed contract. Family doesn’t threaten you should you kneel during the anthem. Or, put different, in a month or so call Brogan Roback, the fourth string quarterback out of Eastern Michigan. He’ll likely be back home in Maumee, Ohio, figuring out what to do next with his life. His family having kicked him to the curb.

Brogan

Brogan

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life