By Dan Buffa, Special for We Are Live
"For the first time in 20 years, touchdown L.A.!"
The sound of those words sprung from the potent narrating engine that is Liev aka Ross Rhea aka Ray Donovan Schreiber on HBO's Hard Knocks shouldn't sting as much as they did, but damn it they made me angry. Let's rewind a bit while you leave the house to go buy a six pack of Stag. Shitty teams deserve the same quality of beer.
Talking about the Rams in St. Louis seems to land one on the bad list these days. Whether it's radio, print, or word on the street, mentioning the football team that played the 2015 season right there in downtown St. Louis seems to get eyeball dismissal. My response to that is shut it down, former football team police. I'm not done yet. It hasn't been years. It's been just over eight months since Stan Kroenke, Roger Goodell, and NFL owners stabbed the Rams in the back like Caesar. They can't even remake this film yet.
Episode One of Hard Knocks recap is simple. The Jeff Fisher Gong Show. Fisher spits senile nonsense like a crazy old uncle wondering around the porch in the middle of the night after a bar fight with his brother. Watching the richest coach without a winning season say things like, "I have a plan and we are NOT going 7-9" makes one think he's planning a backup career in stand up comedy.
Every time he unleashes words out of that overcooked tanned skin covered mouth of his, it elicits laughter. What Fisher deserves is to stay on that river the series opens up with and think about remaking The River Runs Through It with his son. He doesn't deserve anything. I hope his mustache turns into a feathery snake and swallows his oversized ego.
The hard parts of this series don't revolve around seeing #1 overall draft pick Jared Goff look like a blonde Houdini in the pocket and blaze a trail as the Rams future QB even though his dumb ass doesn't know where the sun sets. It's not seeing a new offensive lineman discuss his extravagant amount of tank tops. It's not the prop fans being carted out to the practices. It's not the idea of no football in September.
The painful part is watching Aaron Donald prepare to own Los Angeles. The best defensive tackle in the NFL at a young age looks like The Hulk on a football field and plays like it. Donald may dominate at the game of ping pong in his leisure time, but his ferocious ability to get behind the O-Line like a man merely opening the refrigerator is something to cherish. He's a stud and I couldn't care less about Stan K, Fisher, Kevin Demoff, Goff, Brian Quick, or the Leg. I'm mad that Los Angeles got Aaron Donald like Fisher got another lottery ticket contract extension.
Todd Gurley is also gold on the ceiling, and now wearing gold on his helmet out west. He walks around the field like Dylan at a recording studio. He could touch a desk and make it come alive. The man singlehandedly picked up a snooze fest of an offensive attack last year and will only get better if his knee stays intact. (Drink)
Donald and Gurley. That's it folks. That's all it is. Forget everybody else. LA doesn't deserve those stars. After the Rams go 7-9 in 2016, they will go back to checking Clayton Kershaw's twitter account, watching the Los Angeles Kings in May, and only randomly checking the Rams box score. That's what will make me drink an extra glass of whiskey this fall. People under-appreciating a player like Donald and Gurley.
Watching the Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys in a preseason game made me feel nothing but contempt for fans getting duped by Sean Mannion leading a fourth quarter comeback against Dallas' fourth stringers and Jerry Jones nodding to Stan in "I got you man" approval.
After the win, Fisher went into his drunken uncle stupor again like it was the uncomfortable speech after a wedding reception. Talking about putting a football taken from a preseason game on the wall as a sign of inspiration isn't just funny. It's sad. A sign of how low the Rams sit and how far they have to go in order to accumulate a small fraction of respect. That's the part I don't worry about. That's a problem that no longer belongs to St. Louis football fans.
Here's the important part folks. Watch the show if you like great behind the scenes entertainment. The show isn't about the owners or the NFL. The goodness of Hard Knocks is the same as Showtime's retired baseball series, The Franchise, or EPIX's Road the Winter Classic. It's about the players and their dreams. Donald, Gurley, and company didn't punch the clock on St. Louis and head west. They were simply doing their job. Nothing more or less. Watch them grow during these episodes. It's still a fun ride and NFL Films is state of the art.
The show is about the undrafted college talents trying to crack the roster. It's about great hometown stories like Nelson Spruce. Whether it's been the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans. or New York Jets, it's about the coach and his players. With Fisher, you will get comedic phrases. With the players, you get entertainment and juicy stories.
At the end of the day, you may consume more alcohol and get angry. That's okay. When Hour #2 concluded, I told my wife the Rams didn't deserve Schreiber's narration. More like Adam Sandler.
Comedic entertainment deserves comedic dispensers.
Watching Hard Knocks will make a true Rams fan hurt, but that doesn't mean some fun can't be had in the process.