Welcome to Los Angeles, where the weather is sunny, the people are gorgeous, and the new NFL team is mediocre. Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Los Angeles Rams is here, and to celebrate the 11th season of the new greatest show on turf, we’ll be breaking down each episode with what you need to know.
Defensive end Will Hayes is an NFL veteran who had one of the best seasons of his career last year at age 30, logging 36 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He also believes in mermaids.
At last, I’ve found another believer! “As a matter of fact, I remember him getting real excited about the potential for moving out here because he knew that he would be closer to mermaids here on the West Coast,” head coach Jeff Fisher said of Hayes. Having a strong sense of belief is vital to a professional athlete’s longevity, but so is consistency.
So, I wonder how Fisher and his coaching staff are handling the fact that this dude believes in mermaids while also maintaining a firm stance as a dinosaur truther. “I just think it’s some bullshit, to be honest with you. I just can’t imagine a T-Rex walking around here,” said Hayes, whose imagination is apparently limited to humanoid creatures. Unfortunately, there will be no regular season meeting between the Rams and the defending champion Denver Broncos, which would have provided an opportunity for noted dinosaur hipster Von Miller to weigh in on Hayes’s declaration that dinosaurs “fall in the same category as Santa Claus.”
Most Interesting Thing We Learned
Jared Goff, while fielding light questions from a reporter, was asked if he preferred sushi or hamburgers. “Sushi,” he said unflinchingly. Suits or sweats? “Sweats,” he responded, again, without much consideration. Now seems like a good time to mention that in the Rams’ first preseason game against the Cowboys last week, Goff threw an interception on his first of two unimpressive drives before being pulled due to injury concerns. Goff said after the game that he was “fine.”
I’m no expert, but there is an interconnectedness in life: If you make bad food and clothing decisions (I, an East Coaster, cannot help but choose a good burger over good sushi, even after a few months in California), it stands to reason that you will also make bad football decisions. It is also worth noting that when asked “Bieber or Timberlake?” Goff responded, “Bieber, because he’s closer to my age.” Come on, Jared. If you’re going to go down, at least go down because you were trying too hard, not because you’ve given up already.
Your “We’re in L.A.!” Reminder of the Week
Look, it’s never going to get any more Los Angeles than the show’s opening credits, but because the episode centered on a practice day and the Rams’ preseason game against the Cowboys, we were also treated to many extended shots of the L.A. Coliseum. What can I say? It’s a beautiful stadium and one of the only nonclownish reminders that the series takes place in an otherwise caricature-prone city. It also provided excellent sight lines for Jared Goff’s mom to see her son throw ill-advised passes.
Ballers-esque Plotline of the Week
We were introduced to defensive back Brian Randolph this week when he mentioned that 37, the number that he had worn his entire life until training camp, was already taken by another player, safety Jordan Lomax. Randolph, unwilling to pay the $10,000 requested by Lomax for a number switch, begrudgingly wears no. 43, bringing to mind when Ballers character Ricky Jerret had to wear no. 41 while watching a teammate sport his traditional no. 18 during the show’s first season.
Jerret also had issues with that same receiver for another … totally valid reason. Randolph isn’t any stranger to tension with teammates, as he seemingly has a frosty relationship with wideout Pharoh Cooper after this happened during their college careers:
“You can’t hit them pretty boys anymore,” Randolph said, recalling the incident. Cooper doesn’t have much to say about the hit (“Cleaned my ass. He got kicked out of the game, though.”), but I think it is fair to assume he’s still not pleased.
Unfortunately Randolph, who had been excelling during camp after going undrafted and had become one of the team’s more notable characters (even earning the nickname “Rhino” for his tackling ability), tore his ACL during Saturday’s game against the Cowboys and will be out for the season.
“Athletes, They’re Just Like Us” Moment(s) of the Week
Hayes’s big week continued at the pool, where, wearing underwear so miniscule it resembled a Speedo, he did not appear to be searching for mermaids. Hayes looked less like his non-lineman teammates, and more like somebody you’d see walking down the street, but maybe that’s part of his strategy. We’ll give him a pass. Hey, we’ll give the whole team a pass. This looks like a great time.
We were also given insight into the modes of transportation used by the Rams to get around the UC Irvine campus. Todd Gurley and some of his teammates chose motorized scooters, while much of the team opted for bikes. Kenny Britt, apparently unsatisfied with two-wheeled choices, opted for a golf cart–go kart hybrid, which he drove expediently before crashing and having the vehicle fall on top of him. Fisher was not pleased.
Jeff Fisher Quote of the Week
“That’s winning football. Get used to it, because that’s what’s gonna start happening here a week from tonight. That’s what happens and it continues all year.” — Jeff Fisher, who still refuses to check the scoreboard.
It might be time to start a preemptive memory collage with all of Fisher’s beautiful quotes about winning. It’s always good to be reminded of how hopeful we are at the beginning of things.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.