Best moment: Andrew Luck retirement
The opening scene was not about the Raiders in particular, but football in general. Andrew Luck’s stepping away from the game sent shockwaves through the league, and defensive line coach Brentson Bucker—an underrated star of this season of Hard Knocks—summed things up best when he said, “Football has a 100% retirement rate.” The message would set the tone for the rest of the episode where basically everyone on the roster bubble that was featured throughout camp ended up getting released.
Worst moment: The roster cuts
Unfortunately, a strong first half of the finale was followed by slight disappointment in the second half, as the roster cuts are the “worst” moment because you see guys see their dreams end—but compared it previous seasons, viewers saw none of the conversations between players and the head coach/general manager. It probably came down to Jon Gruden and the organization reluctantly doing the show (being they were forced to) and leaving what they believe should be private moments on the cutting room floor.
Funniest moment: Trent Brown helps out Antonio Brown
Trent Brown had the funniest moment last week when he was eating snacks while not knowing the cameras were watching, and he was effortlessly hilarious again in the finale by helping AB get his jersey on before practice. The size difference—Trent is six-foot-eight and Antonio is five-foot-ten—combined with the two giggling as they struggled to get the receiver’s jersey on was arguably the funniest moment of the season. Also, a couple of honorable mentions should go to Jon Gruden for his excitement over Metallica at 5 AM, and later telling the new official he should have stayed in New York to “correct all these f*** ups.”
Underrated moment: Josh Jacobs continues hiding
When the Browns were featured on Hard Knocks last season, the only time we really saw Nick Chubb was when he arrived at the airport in the first episode and received almost no fanfare because he’s a humble, low-key guy that ended up letting his play do the talking. The same could be true of Jacobs—who tweeted a couple weeks ago that he’s avoiding the cameras—based on his angle in the meeting room where the HBO crew couldn’t even get a look at his face because his arm was up with a hood over his head. Going in, I thought Jacobs was going to be featured, but we’ll see him unleashed in Week 1.
Best quote: Mark Davis
“Til you find someone who has been a scout, a coach, a general manager, a commissioner, and an owner, it’s pretty hard to find someone to fill the shoes for this room, so it’s stayed this way.” (on his late father Al Davis)
MVP: Antonio Brown
The season MVP is easily Jon Gruden, and he could have a case for last night’s episode, too; but the ending of the episode showed why Oakland will put up with all the drama that might come with AB, as he’s perhaps the hardest worker in the league and will bring 100% effort when he’s on the field (whether it be practice or game). The main reason Gruden wanted Brown to join the Raiders is because his work ethic is legendary, so you can be sure he wasn’t putting on a show for the cameras to end the season with an insane nighttime pool workout.