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What We Learned From ‘Hard Knocks,’ Episode 3

Brad Paisley got the RV tour of a lifetime, but the week belonged to a stretching-averse amateur magician

HBO

No hard-knock life is harder than that of the Cleveland Browns. Coming off the second 0-16 season in NFL history, the Browns drafted one of the most exciting QB prospects to enter the league in years and added veterans they hope will change the culture. The team is giving an all-access look at their progress for Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Cleveland Browns, and we’ll be breaking down each episode with what you need to know.


Episode MVP

“Stretching is way overrated,” bellowed Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie. “Did you know, World War I, World War II, all those guys that fought in those wars, they did push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks, climbed rope, and ran. None of this fancy shit. And they won two world wars! … You think they were worried when they were running across Normandy about fucking stretching?”

Wylie is a large man with a bigger personality. He’s a licensed pilot and a talented drummer, and his entire stomach moves when he yells. Most importantly, he’s an amateur magician who has been on stage with David Copperfield.

Every second Wylie was on camera, he was working his magic. The first thing we heard from him is about how players in the 1940s didn’t get to play music at practice—there was just the sound of the bands in the stands. In an offensive line meeting, he showed his players a montage of animals that have good blocking form. It’s very difficult to knock over pigs and hippos, Wylie explains, because their knees are bent and they have a low center of gravity.

“Short steps are better than long steps,” Wylie said during one drill. “That’s the only time in your life you’re gonna hear short is better than long.”

Wylie’s sense of humor is colorful, and his Maserati is white. He arrived at the Browns’ second preseason game and lumbered out of the low car before telling the valet, “No Ferris Bueller shit.” The Browns are having a tough training camp, but Wylie is in midseason form.

Cutest Thing We Saw: Moose the Office Dog

We are skipping over defensive end Nate Orchard’s adorable children and addressing something far more important: Moose, the Browns’ office dog.

On Tuesday, Moose roamed the Browns’ offices with impunity, indicated by a yellow “Moose Crossing” road sign. He wandered in and out of Hue Jackson’s office and found his way to general manager John Dorsey’s office.

“Come on over here, ya big old mooser!” Dorsey said. “What are ya doing, huh?” (I promise this was gripping television.)

Moments later, Jackson mentioned to Baker Mayfield that he heard there was a dog named Quaker Mayfield. As always, Jackson was slightly off, and Baker informed him it’s Barker Mayfield (who is only the cutest dog in the whole wide world).

Instead of actually showing Barker Mayfield, the episode cut to Bob Wylie, who gave us outstanding television, but he has the exact opposite aesthetic of an adorable puppy. That Hard Knocks didn’t get footage of Barker was an abject failure. Luckily, Moose turned the limited screen time into an unforgettable performance.

Baker Mayfield Update of the Week: Brad Paisley Infiltrates the RV

“This is a dream come true for me,” Brad Paisley said, lying through his teeth, moments before addressing the team. Paisley, who hails from just over Ohio’s border with West Virginia, tells the team he’s been a Browns fan since third grade, when Brian Sipe was their quarterback. (Sipe retired 33 years ago, before all but two players on the team were born.) Paisley didn’t have much else to say to the team—breaking down the huddle was an awkward affair—but he didn’t mince words once Baker pulled him aside and introduced himself.

“How’s the RV?” Paisley asked.

Baker invited him for a tour.

“That was my goal when I got here,” Paisley said. “To infiltrate the RV and see what is happening.” (The way I understand it, that was the entire reason they filmed Hard Knocks in Cleveland.)

Baker gave Paisley the tour, which consisted of pointing out all the places the quarterbacks take their naps. (Sans sheets!)

“There’s some nut job that wants this,” Paisley said. “Probably me, actually. I’ll park this on the farm. This will be a piece of history, actually.”

Brad Paisley is six months from touring the country in the Browns’ QB clubhouse. If Baker had mentioned the sewage-related details, Paisley might have changed his mind.

“Athletes, They’re Just Like Us” Moment of the Week

Browns fourth-string quarterback and real-life Blue Mountain State character Brogan Roback, a.k.a. Brobie, a.k.a. BRObie, took a break from stocking the RV to tour a butterfly garden with his girlfriend, Ally Goff, whom he met by DMing on Instagram. In the greenhouse, a butterfly landed on Brobie’s arm.

“Is it going to turn into the color of my arm?” Roback asked. “Some butterflies do that, don’t they?”

I have no idea whether he was joking or not, but life is more fun when taking Brogan Roback at face value. Moments later, we saw him with an employee holding an actual chameleon. He seemed to be freaked out, but the employee told him the chameleon eats only live food.

“I’m live food right now!” Roback said with the fear of someone realizing a career-ending, chameleon-related injury could be captured on camera and witnessed by the entire country. The employee explained the chameleon eats bugs. Later in the episode, Goff explained she drove two and a half hours to see her boyfriend play in the Browns’ second preseason game and that she spent 45 minutes of that drive crying.

“Brogan, like, it’s bad to say, but like he’s such a little shithead,” Goff said. “I’m just so proud of him for finally growing up.”

He didn’t play a snap.

Scene Seemingly Plagiarized From The Office: Hue Jackson’s Meeting With Dez Bryant

Earlier this month, Bryant sent a series of tweets saying he’d visit the Browns, which after a back-and-forth, culminated in a trip to the #Hardland. Dez could not have acted more like a rock star the entire time. We saw him signing Browns gear at the airport, dapping up a dozen people as he introduced himself to just about everyone in the building, and even walking into a live Browns radio segment before heading to Jackson’s office. There, Jackson has a conversation with him that seemed straight out of Scranton.

“Dez, I tell you, this opportunity that’s sitting before you is kind of unique, because we’re at a time where we’re about to do this,” Jackson said as he slowly raised his arm.

“The last two years have been hell,” Jackson said. “I’ll be the first to tell you that.”

After watching this exchange, Hue Jackson’s most plausible excuse for his tenure as Browns head coach could be that he has studied Michael Scott’s The Fundamentals of Business.

Quote of the Week: Gregg Williams

“If you’re allergic to the word fuck, you gotta get a prescription.” —Gregg Williams speaking to Brad Paisley, but also through the fourth wall.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.