Hard Knocks' Episode Two Tracks Chad Johnson's Last Days With the Fins


HBO sure got its money's worth from the Miami Dolphins this past weekend. On Friday night, shortly before kick-off of the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team announced that quarterback David Garrard, a free agent pick-up brought in to compete for the starting job, would be undergoing knee surgery and miss four to six weeks.

A day later, star wideout Chad Johnson was in handcuffs and being carted off to Broward County Jail, accused of headbutting his wife Evelyn Lozada, who got mad at the ex-Mr. Ochocinco when she found a receipt for a box of condoms. By Sunday night, Johnson had been kicked off the team. All this while the cameras were rolling!

You're damn right we tuned into Hard Knocks last night to relive all the painful memories.

But before the HBO film crew gets to the money shot of head coach Joe Philbin dismissing the controversial wide receiver, the second episode of Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Miami Dolphins opens with a news clip about the unexpected death of Garrett Reid, the oldest son of Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid. It's a tragic story that Philbin is all too familiar with.

The Death of Michael Philbin

The head coach recounts how he found out that his son Michael had been found dead in a frozen river shortly after interviewing for the Dolphins' gig, when he was still offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. Although the sappy background music was a bit annoying, Philbin's account hits the viewer like a Muay Thai knee strike to the ribs.

He says: "As we were waiting in the police station, our daughter, who is 10-years-old, put her arm around her mother and said, 'you didn't do anything wrong. It is not your fault that Michael; you let him go out visit his friends."<

Philbin recalls being numb and shell-shocked when his other son, Tim, asked him if he was going to pursue the Miami job. "I said, 'I don't know, I haven't really thought about it,'" Philbin recollects, his voice cracking. "He said, 'Mike would want you to do it.'"

Then we get a shot of Philbin on the phone with his peer, Reid. Kudos to HBO for getting the audience to feel empathy with the head coach. In the first episode, Philbin came off as a party pooping principal. But after the second episode's opening scene, he's just another human being trying to move on from a horrific family tragedy.

Tight End Boot Camp

The camera cuts to rookie tight end Les Brown, the guy from the first episode who gave up a career in finance to chase his NFL dream, being grilled by someone off camera who questions his motivation for being the first guy to sit down for a team meeting. A voice booms: "Well, we don't know if you're an early guy or if you're just kinda here because Hard Knocks is here..."

We quickly learn that despite rising early, Brown still can't block worth a lick. Then we get treated to a montage of what Brown can do: catch the pigskin over the middle. Next, we meet another tight end, third round pick Michael Egnew, who is having a hard time picking up plays. We hear tight ends coach Dan Campbell tell one of his subordinates to keep an eye on Egnew. "Stay on him," he says. "He needs it man. He's a good kid, but he needs to know how things go on around here."

In the next scene, Egnew and Charles Cates, yet another tight end, are on the receiving end of a profanity-laced job evaluation from offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. "I am telling you right now I got nothing to say about you at these meetings other than he's not doing his job," Sherman barks at Cates. "You better start picking your shit up. It wasn't good enough. You hurt us the other day."

Sherman then turns on Egnew. "You were terrible," Sherman says. "I would cut you today if I was general manager. Get your head out of your ass. This group is not waiting for you. You were drafted as a high pick. Get your shit going, you understand?"

Someone should remind Sherman that this is Hard Knocks, not Full Metal Jacket. Whenever football coaches try to act like drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman it just looks ridiculous.

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