Two weeks ago Washington head coach Jay Gruden was asked how he’d feel about hosting HBO’s Hard Knocks for training camp. He made a convincing counteroffer: film his brother’s team instead.
“If they were smart, they would go to Oakland,” Jay Gruden said. “I mean seriously, what an entertainment value that would be. Antonio Brown. Jon Gruden. Paul Guenther. Vontaze Burfict. [Richie] Incognito. I mean these guys gotta be crazy not to go Oakland.”
On Tuesday, the Raiders announced Hard Knocks is going to Oakland.
It seemed impossible to top last year’s choice of the 0-16 Browns, but the documentation of this Raiders team will be a gift from the content gods, and the loyal fans living in the Bay Area who are being abandoned for sandier pastures in Las Vegas are the sacrifice.
There is no better person to put a live microphone in front of than Jon Gruden. Among the gem quotes in his mic’d up past include:
- “If you’re nice to these guys, that doesn’t work either. Might as well be an asshole. Which is exactly what I am.”
- “If I get out of hand, just tell me I’m a jerk and shut up.”
- “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!?! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR SKULL?!?!?!?”
- “Call my fuckin’ brother and see how they do it in arena football.” (This is a reference to Jay, who won four titles in the Arena Football League. Entertainment value, indeed.)
- “I’ve got a reputation to try and live up to also. I mean I am one hot motherfucker.”
The second-year head coach will have plenty of sparring partners. We could see Gruden coaching interception machine Nathan Peterman, Gruden aggressively complimenting and passive-aggressively criticizing Derek Carr mere moments apart, Carr denying he cried last year while explaining his weird music videos, GM Mike Mayock pretending he is thrilled he took a job working for Gruden and Mark Davis, Gruden showing us his passport photo and trying to do a Canadian accent when the Raiders head to Winnipeg for a preseason game against the Packers, and Gruden brandishing his analytics award for the Khalil Mack trade. If there is any justice in this world, we will also hear Gruden tell the story of how he played the Notre Dame theme song in his head when he lost his virginity.
That’s just the Gruden stuff. The number of plot lines for the Raiders stretches beyond the horizon. We could see Antonio Brown and Vontaze Burfict make up after Burfict laid Brown out cold with an absurdly dirty hit three years ago. Owner Mark Davis can give us an interview from his favorite local P.F. Chang’s while he shows us his high scores on Snake on his Nokia phone. Also, did I mention that Jon Gruden will coachNathan Peterman?
This season of Hard Knocks is going to have massive expectations, and Gruden must ensure it gets out of hand. The man has a reputation to uphold.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.