HBO debuted season 14 of “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The show aims to capture the life of American professional football players and coaches, including practices, life at home, and everything in between.
This season of “Hard Knocks” should be exciting because the Oakland Raiders have Jon Gruden, a big personality who seems to only love football, as their head coach. Viewers get a glimpse of his intense personality within the first few minutes of the episode when Gruden says, “everybody right now has dreams, I’m not into dreams anymore. I’m into fucking nightmares.”
The mix of different personalities should help make this season of “Hard Knocks” even more entertaining. The Raiders added Richie Incognito, an offensive lineman who is no stranger to controversy, to their roster in May. Bleacher Report reported in 2013 and 2014 that Incognito made several racial slurs at a teammate and was voted the dirtiest player in the NFL by Sports Illustrated in 2009. However, “Hard Knocks” seemed to paint Incognito as a perfectly normal player as if to set up a redemption story.
Antonio Brown, widely considered the best wide receiver in the NFL, also joined the Raiders this offseason via trade by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although Brown is one of the best at what he does, his feet are a mess right now.
According to ESPN, Brown suffered severe frostbite from improper foot protection he had used in a cryotherapy clinic, where temperatures get as low as -280° Fahrenheit. The first episode of the new season showed Brown’s struggles with his injury and the rehabilitation process he is going through.
Ronald Ollie entered the Raiders’ training camp as an undrafted rookie. He was no stranger to cameras, having been a big personality on Netflix’s “Last Chance U”, which follows Division-II schools with professional prospects who didn’t make it to a major university because of their grades or conduct. Unfortunately, “Hard Knocks” viewers didn’t see much of Ollie because near the end of the episode, he was cut from the team for appearing to not be trying hard and not seeking treatment for a sore achilles.
Regardless of the veterans on the team, the real star of the episode was rookie safety Johnathan Abram. The first time he is seen on camera, he’s carrying what he said was $500 worth of snacks for his teammates, but he seems to be enjoying the process of being a rookie in the NFL. Later in the show, he takes a teammate horseback riding while singing “Old Town Road.”
Gruden proved once again that he belongs on television in a nice scene with football legend John Madden and a somewhat strange scene with rapper G-Eazy. However, “Hard Knocks” seemed to focus too much on Ollie and Brown’s feet so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.
“Hard Knocks” is available on HBO Go and HBO Now, and season 14 will release new episodes every Tuesday until the finale on Sept. 3.