How will Hard Knocks handle the Antonio Brown helmet fight?

AP

On Tuesday night, Hard Knocks either will provide transparency and clarity to the Antonio Brown helmet fight, or it won’t.

Based on last week’s episode, bet the under.

Peter King made this observation about the situation in his latest Football Morning in America column: “‘Hard Knocks’ is either going to show a slice of this Brown story this week, with some real video and team reaction, or it’s Pravda. And I know Ken Rodgers of NFL Films, the curator of this show. He will want to show the real story, very much.”

The 2019 debut episode of Hard Knocks tiptoed around Brown’s foot issues, referring on multiple occasions to his inability to practice but not once hinting at what was keeping him from running at full speed. Given that, earlier in the day, Chris Simms had explained on PFT Live that Brown’s problems trace to a cryotherapy chamber that was entered without proper footwear, it became obvious that Raiders coach Jon Gruden had exercised his prerogative to make the supposed reality show into a this-is-fine infomercial.

Indeed, the helmet issue was quietly raging before last Tuesday, with subsequent reports suggesting that Brown’s absence from practice has more to do with the dispute over his desire to wear a so-old-it-can’t-be-recertified helmet than the frostbitten feet. But not a mention of the helmet fiasco made its way into Hard Knocks.

It’s no surprise. The Raiders didn’t want to do the show. Something caused them to tolerate the intrusion, and that something very well may have been a sweeping license to control the content, perhaps broader and more binding than any Hard Knocks team has ever had.

The debut episode felt like an exercise in running out the clock, frankly. With precious minutes devoted to a wine-country horseback ride, an extended 19-year-old clip of John Madden (who hasn’t coached the Raiders in more than 40 years) talking about the seven-man blocking sled, a Last Chance U. alumnus who didn’t get much of a chance to stick around in camp, and anything/everything but practice-field and meeting-room interactions, the Raiders managed to keep to a bare minimum the sights and sounds of actual training camp.

Most importantly, the biggest story surrounding the team — Brown’s absence — successfully got short shrift.

Gruden, who has no choice but to stubbornly support a player who undoubtedly is closely monitoring everything the team says and does about him, will want none of the frozen feet or helmet fight material to be included. Ken Rodgers, if he hopes for a show produced by NFL Films (i.e., the NFL) to have any credibility whatsoever, will be pushing Gruden to let the show address the situation. Gruden’s reaction could nevertheless be to invoke whatever behind-the-curtain deal was done to get the Raiders to do the show, stubbornly insisting that it not be addressed.

At most, any treatment of Brown’s situation will be crafted to present the situation, somehow, in a light favorable to Brown and the Raiders. Ultimately, that may be impossible to do. Regardless, no one should be expecting Hard Knocks to present the hard truth about one of the nuttiest preseason stories in NFL history.

7 responses to “How will Hard Knocks handle the Antonio Brown helmet fight?

  1. “It’s no surprise. The Raiders didn’t want to do the show. Something caused them to tolerate the intrusion, and that something very well may have been a sweeping license to control the content, perhaps broader and more binding than any Hard Knocks team has ever had.”

    ========================

    Specifically, Gruden himself didn’t want to to the show. Gruden loves the limelight, producing soundbites and mugging for the camera when he can control the content (and therefore how it impacts his image). Gruden KNOWS that an impartial documentary would expose his ineptitude as a HC (let alone as a GM) so obviously he was/is against that.

    It would be a shame if Gruden is able to filter what Hard Knocks shows to the extent that he is coated in teflon. Last year that show exposed the reasons why Hue Jackson was a horrible HC Browns. And those of us Raider fans who aren’t on the Gruden groupie train are entitled to an honest look at who the owner moronically replaced an average but decent HC (Del Rio) with.

  2. ..”It would be a shame if Gruden is able to filter what Hard Knocks shows to the extent that he is coated in teflon. Last year that show exposed the reasons why Hue Jackson was a horrible HC Browns. And those of us Raider fans who aren’t on the Gruden groupie train are entitled to an honest look at who the owner moronically replaced an average but decent HC (Del Rio) with.”

    Anyone who says that JDR is an “average, but decent HC” in comparison to what he thinks Jon Gruden is, obviously doesn’t understand what a HC’s job is. Jon Gruden could and has coached circles around JDR. I like JDR as a guy and what he did for the Raiders, but he is not the better coach or even average at best. He’s nothing more than a “ra-ra” guy who doesn’t know the first thing about X’s and O’s.

  3. ” Jon Gruden could and has coached circles around JDR.”

    Really now? Why not compare Del Rio’s Raider stint with Gruden’s first sting.

    Del Rio took over a 3-13 team that had been down for a dozen years and produced 7-9 and 12-4 records. He went to the playoffs in his 2nd year. The team regressed to 6-10 largely because Marshawn Lynch was foced onto the team as a publicity stunt, the Raiders caved into Donald Penn’s holdout after which Penn became a liability and the Raiders caved into Carr’s demand to replace Bill Musgrave as OC with Todd Downing. Those problems could’ve been corrected by getting rid of Lynch & Penn, hiring a good OC and also getting a better DC. If Del Rio had remained with the team, it’s likely that the Raiders would be a 7 to 10 win team.

    Gruden produced 8-8 records in his the first 2 years of his 1st stint and didn’t get to the playoffs until his 3rd year. His record in those first 2 years was really no better than Mike White’s (and White got fired) and it was known that Al Davis would fire Gruden if he didn’t produce a winning record in his 3rd year. In Gruden’s last year with the Raiders, the team lost 3 of their last 4 regular season games which was the reason they didn’t have home field in the playoffs and had to travel to New England. Also Gruden was circulating himself in the media for other coaching jobs. Al Davis was correct to get rid of Gruden. The major regret is that the Raiders selected poorly on the draft picks received from Tampa.

    Statistically, Gruden’s first stint was in fact no better than Art Shell’s first stint. And the winning teams that Gruden had in his 3rd & 4th years were with a team built by Al Davis (not Gruden).

  4. This should end Hard Knocks if issues like this can’t be covered. The beauty of the show was capturing what was going on “behind the scenes”. If that is edited, the show becomes contrived and boring.

  5. If AB is on the Raiders and Hard Knocks is about the Raiders, then why are stories like this spamming steelers fans still?

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