Variety Of Stars Emerge From Hard Knocks Premiere

Posted Aug 8, 2012

Much like the premier of a summer blockbuster movie, all of the buzz this morning at training camp was about last night’s first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Miami Dolphins.

Even though the two highest profile players featured in the show’s debut were wide receiver Chad Johnson and cornerback Vontae Davis, it was undrafted rookie right end Les Brown who stole the show. The former college basketball player with the appealing underdog story quickly earned some Q rating points after the cameras caught him reviewing one of his practice sessions with his most trusted advisor.

“I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback from the girlfriend scene today in the locker room today as you can imagine,” said Brown, who hasn’t played organized football since high school where he was a wide receiver. “I think a lot of the guys were kind of surprised that I have an attractive girlfriend. They kind of pinned me for being like a nerdy dweeb like from Utah or an accountant or whatever, so I think that’s probably the most I’ve heard from the guys in the locker room.”

It was after some footage of Brown struggling with his blocking that the exchange between him and his girlfriend was shown and he walked over to her and said, “Hey babe, you’re looking hot as (usual),” which he also got some flak for. But he knew there would be a big learning curve for him so his struggles were to be expected.

The criticism from tight ends coach Dan Campbell that was aired in regards to his blocking skills did not bother Brown at all because he confirmed that Campbell has said the same thing to him directly. He watched the show at the team hotel with his roommate and though nothing that aired surprised him, he did have some editing suggestions.

“It would be nice if there was a nice play shown on there. I mean it was kind of a montage of all of the bad ones Brown said. “That’s going to happen and that’s what they do. That’s how TV works sometimes and that’s fine. You can’t get caught up in all of that stuff, you just have to keep coming out every day working on your craft and just trying to get better. I can’t control what they put on the show because it’s fun for the fans and for the people outside to see what’s going on in training camp.”

Brown admitted he was a little hesitant at first about watching the show, but after getting numerous texts from friends letting him know they were going to be watching he decided to watch so he could be prepared for the reactions. He saw a decent balance of the critical side along with a shot of General Manager Jeff Ireland pointing out to the coaches that “you’re not going to find someone on the street with his talent.”

Meanwhile, Head Coach Joe Philbin followed through on his promise not to watch last night’s episode and relied on the reports passed on to him from those that did watch. His conclusion was that nothing really unexpected or disconcerting made it on the air.

“I told the team that when we agreed to do this we were adamant that the show show respect to our players and not compromise the relationship that our staff has built up with the players,” Philbin said. “I didn’t want to make a big deal out of this whole Hard Knocks thing or the whole TV show and we brought those NFL Films guys in during our mini-camp because we wanted to kind of expose our guys so that it wasn’t a huge change when they got to training camp. I think they’ve kind of blended in and right now they’re kind of part of the organization.”

Defensive tackle Randy Starks cracked a smile as he talked about his cameo on the show while walking off the field with defensive end Jared Odrick. The microphone attached to Odrick’s jersey picked up his claim that he does not where deodorant and Starks said he hoped Odrick was joking when he said that.

As far as what might have surprised him after watching the one-hour episode, Starks brought it back to the player everyone expected to grab the most camera time – Johnson.

“Actually, I thought Chad was being quiet and different,” he said. “But then when I saw the show I was like, ‘Oh, he’s back to his old self.’ The only problem with the show is I’m not getting enough sleep because there is no DVR in the hotel. I don’t think anybody was out of character. I think everybody was being himself or herself and I don’t think anything special’s going on just to get on TV. That’s how we are.”

Next Tuesday’s episode will delve deeper into who the Miami Dolphins are, as will the three that follow.

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