I watched the season premiere of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” on Tuesday night at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. Here are my top takeaways, in chronological order, from an episode sure to have fans talking until the second episode airs next week:
** The episode and season opened with the giant LeBron James banner downtown being taken down after he signed with the Lakers.
** Rookie running back Nick Chubb stood at the airport baggage carousel and went largely unnoticed.
** Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield said he didn’t know Bob Evans is a chain restaurant.
** Mayfield makes a “Christmas Vacation” reference when his RV rental was delivered from Neff Brothers in Lorain and the waste-disposal system was explained.
** Defensive end Carl Nassib cussed and was hysterical. He gave a profanity-laced lecture on compound interest that stole the show.
** “Bless’m” will be the “Child, please” of this season. Receiver Jarvis Landry said “bless’m” repeatedly after making plays against the defensive backs and it swept through the offense. Former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson made “Child, please” famous years ago on “Hard Knocks.”
** Coach Hue Jackson went through the death of his mother in front of the cameras and broke down multiple times. He bounced back and forth with coaching, telling his assistants the news, then quickly returning to film study.
The episode was dedicated to Betty Lee Jackson.
** Jackson read a text from absent receiver Josh Gordon thanking him for sticking by him, sending sincere condolences and saying “I will see you soon.”
** The days off for some players to avoid injury didn’t sit well with some assistant coaches, who questioned Jackson, or Landry, who told the receiving room in a passionate speech, “If you’re not f—— hurt, you’ve got to f—— practice.”
** Linebacker Christian Kirksey has been drumming since age 7 and his beats were used for a montage of practice plays.