With the announcement that the Oakland Raiders will be the featured team on HBO's Hard Knocks this August, our minds are already racing over all the glorious content opportunities. Jon Gruden should be in peak form, Antonio Brown's act will be must-see television, and the it'll be very interesting to see how HBO handles the rest of the cast of characters, who all come with a hefty dose of baggage (Richie Incognito, Vontaze Burfict). Just imagine if Marshawn Lynch comes out of retirement (again)? Wooooo boy.
Unfortunately, with all that said, chances are HBO goes with the same script its used on Hard Knocks in all 13 previous installments. Briefly document what all the team's stars are up to, then focus on three to four borderline NFL players with touching stories that you get attached to only for them to get cut in the finale episode. It's been a tried and true method, but it's beginning to get stale, IMO.
It's gotten so old that a clip from the very first season of Hard Knocks, which featured the defending champion Baltimore Ravens in 2001, has resurfaced on social media. The short video is of the exact process I just discussed, when a team sends someone from the personnel department to break the bad news to players who are getting cut by telling them "hey, coach wants to see you, bring your playbook." Why has the clip of this process from the 2001 Ravens resurfaced? Because the bearer of bad news, also known as "The Turk," is Joe Douglas, who was just introduced as the new General Manager of the New York Jets this week:
File this under "starting from the bottom, now we're here." Little Drake lyric for ya. This was Douglas' second year as a personnel assistant for the Ravens, a low-level job he held until 2003 when he became an area scout. It was his first real job out of the University of Richmond, where he started all four years at offensive tackle, then volunteered as an assistant coach in 1999.
Douglas spent 15 seasons in Baltimore, winning two Super Bowls during his time there. He then spent a year as the Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears in 2015, crossing paths with his now head coach Adam Gase, who was Chicago's offensive coordinator at the time. The following season he was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles to be the Vice President of Player Personnel, a position he held for three years and had great success in (Douglas helped draft Carson Wentz and was part of the Super Bowl-winning staff).
On Tuesday, Douglas was officially announced as the Jets new GM, 18 years after he was crushing the NFL dreams of players as a lowly personnel assistant in Baltimore. In a league where everyone is looking for the young, hotshot coach or GM, Douglas worked his way up through the ranks and put in the time. It took a lot of patience, which makes him a perfect fit for the Jets fanbase, who have been waiting a looooong time for something good to happen.