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Volume 26 No. 109
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Raiders Drama Providing "Hard Knocks" With Plenty Of Hype

Antonio Brown's foot injury and helmet antics likely have led to a boost in viewership for "Hard Knocks"
Photo: RAIDERS
Antonio Brown's foot injury and helmet antics likely have led to a boost in viewership for "Hard Knocks"
Photo: RAIDERS
Antonio Brown's foot injury and helmet antics likely have led to a boost in viewership for "Hard Knocks"
Photo: RAIDERS

The third episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" will air tonight, and it "doesn’t seem fully coincidental that the absurdity" of the Raiders' preseason is "taking place in front of a fleet" of cameras, according to Ann Killion of the S.F. CHRONICLE. All of the Raiders' happenings seem "carefully staged and packaged for the cameras." That includes GM Mike Mayock, who is "generally regarded" as coach Jon Gruden’s "lackey." Mayock made a "tough-guy, either you’re 'all in or all out' statement" about WR Antonio Brown on Sunday, which "quickly was released by the team on social media." Even that seems like a "preemptive strike at whatever 'Hard Knocks' might be showing" in tonight's episode. The "saga of Brown, who lives his life in public, seems particularly like an HBO plot twist to boost ratings." Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, "historically creates ridiculous drama around his clients." Killion: "Put the two in a prime-time show and voila! Pure madness and a ratings bonanza." The player who "meticulously Instagrams his life clearly is the primary plot line, which is probably just the way he and Rosenhaus planned it" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/20).

ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR: NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King wrote NFL Films likely "wants to show more" of the drama surrounding the Raiders, but the team has probably "nixed some scenes." Gruden and Mayock "do not want any part of 'Hard Knocks,' and because teams have the opportunity to view the prospective show before it airs each week, there’s no question ... that the Raiders are being heavy editors" (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/19). In San Jose, Jerry McDonald noted so far on "Hard Knocks," Gruden has been the "central character and a largely uncensored one." Gruden said, "I don’t like hearing all the profanity. It’s like every time I swear it makes the show. I just love football. I have a lot of passion for this and I get way carried away sometimes. I apologize. I’m not as foul-mouthed as people think, and if you think I am, I’m sorry.” McDonald noted there "were 47 profanities of varying degrees in Episode 2, with Gruden responsible for 23 of them" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 8/18).

THE RAIDER WAY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "I’m amazed at how 'Hard Knocks' can sow tension out of humid August practices and team meetings inside bland hotel conference rooms." Brown has "proven to be a charismatic star," while Gruden "seems to be trying to win an Emmy, or at least chew all the scenery." The ratings for Raiders "Hard Knocks" are "up, way up, because, as Gruden knows, despite all the turmoil, this franchise retains a bizarre mystique" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/20). FS1’s Skip Bayless said, "What player has dominated the first two episodes of ‘Hard Knocks?’ Help me out. I think it's (Brown). What will be the most captivating story of episode three? Want to bet on it? It’ll be (Brown) and this grievance and all the grievances that go with it" (“Undisputed,” FS1, 8/20).