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Volume 27 No. 5
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"Hard Knocks" Episode Four Details Talks On Social Justice Movement

Last night's episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" dove right into the shooting of Jacob Blake, and it might be the "most intense and emotionally charged episode in the series' 15 seasons," according to Jim Reineking of USA TODAY. Rams Senior Dir of Communications Artis Twyman, a Black man, "pulls up the video of the shooting of Jacob Blake on his cellphone and shows it to head coach Sean McVay." McVay said, "Are you (expletive) kidding me? Wait ... are you (expletive) kidding me?" Twyman: "I think more about the people this has happened to where there's no video." While the Rams "didn't interrupt their practice schedule, the crosstown Chargers canceled a scrimmage." Chargers coach Anthony Lynn "summoned his players to the locker room to have an uncomfortable discussion." Lynn said, "We're gonna get it out right now. And we're going to talk. For some of you, it's going to be a hard conversation. I'm just gonna ask you, please, just listen." Chargers assistant coach George Stewart, a Black man, said, "We are football players. We're not politicians. But it's up to us to speak our damn platforms" (USA TODAY, 9/2). In L.A., Gilbert Manzano notes Stewart "reminded his players he's 62 and how much racism and police brutality he's seen since he was a 6-year-old boy growing up in Arkansas" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/2).

OFF-FIELD EFFORTS: CBSSPORTS.com's Cody Benjamin notes this week's episode "put a big spotlight on the NFL's off-field endeavors -- specifically renewed team movements for social justice." There is a case to be made that this series has "deserved far more on-field insight and locker-room drama, but 'Hard Knocks' embraced the jarring tonal shift this week to really put us in the shoes of players and coaches affected by the latest round of racial unrest in America." It may have been "unique and unexpected, but Episode 4 knew exactly what it wanted to be: A response." This was the "most unifying, if stirring, storyline of 2020 'Hard Knocks' to date" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/2).

TOUGH TALKS: SI.com's Nick Selbe writes the episode was "bookended by frank, direct and often emotionally raw team discussions about larger issues of systemic racism and police brutality, and how the Rams and Chargers can utilize their platforms to bring about positive change." During the end credits of each "Hard Knocks" episode, the show typically features "innocuous, humorous moments that were caught on camera," but instead, this week's end credits "features a list of charities supported by the Chargers, Rams and NFL." They were Brotherhood Crusade (Chargers), Liberty Hill Foundation (Chargers), LA Promise Fund (Rams), A Place Called Home (Rams), Anti-Recidivism Coalition (NFL), Community Justice Exchange (NFL) and RISE (NFL) (SI.com, 9/2).