This is a running account of HBO's season premiere of Hard Knocks, a series that chronicles the Dallas Cowboys' training camp.
9:56 p.m. – I'm a little early for Hard Knocks. Right now on HBO? Shedding Light on Vampires in America. The digital cable description calls it a fictional newsmagazine about vampires in the U.S.
Sweet. Glad I got here early.
10:01 – Finally. The last five minutes took forever. TV-MA. Always a good sign. This means anything is possible. Perhaps it's an FCC requirement that any programming involving Adam "Don't call me Pacman" Jones gets the TV-MA label.
10:02 – The first scene starts with T.O. running on the beach. This guy is 34? Really? Is there any doubt he'll look pretty much the same five years from now?
10:03 -- Cowboys head coach (for now) Wade Phillips is shown watching film in the offseason. I'm very excited for any scenes where Phillips has to fake being cordial with his future replacement Jason Garrett. No one said the life of an NFL coach is easy. Win 13 games, and your owner begs your offensive coordinator to stay, likely promising him a head coaching job in the very near future. Sounds about right.
10:04 – Jason Witten is shown getting ready to change his kid's diaper. He says this is something he won't miss while at training camp. I'm calling Witten's bluff. The camera shows him getting the diaper ready, looking like he has no clue what is in his hand. Then we see an interview with Witten's wife. And then the diaper is magically on the baby. I'm not buying it. I guess the nanny didn't make the final cut. Either that, or I'm completely overanalyzing the first four minutes of this show.
10:05 – Rookie tight end Martellus Bennett says he's taking the Gandhi approach. "Whatever I do, I enjoy it," he says. The camera shows him cleaning up after his dog, who just went to the bathroom when he wasn't supposed to. Enjoy it, Martellus.
10:06 – As Bennett packs for training camp, he remarks that the suitcase with wheels was a great invention. I couldn't agree more. It's the same with whoever discovered the chocolate-peanut butter combination. Pure genius. As an Eagles fan, I know I'm not supposed to have a favorite Cowboy, but I like me some Martellus Bennett.
10:07 -- A fan asks Tony Romo to sign a helmet, and to make the signature out to John. Romo asks if the name should be spelled "John" or "Jon." The fan says he doesn't know; it's for his roommate. Let me get this straight. You know the guy well enough to get a helmet signed for him, but you don't know how he spells his first name? Very bizarre.
10:08 -- For the first time during the show, Eagles fans can smile about something. The narrator mentions that the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game in 12 years. The next scene shows players having serious trouble using their key cards to get into the hotel rooms. A good sign for the rest of the NFC East.
10:09 -- Adam Jones calls T.O. crazy. There's a joke there somewhere. I'm just not sure what it is.
10:11 – Jerry Jones informs Terry Glenn's agent that the Cowboys are going to waive the veteran wide receiver. Then Jones says he doesn't think anyone will sign Glenn. Ouch. Wonder if Bill Parcells and the Dolphins are watching. Miami was rumored to be interested in Glenn the last time I checked.
10:15 – The best part of the show so far. Adam Jones shows off a special talent that has nothing to do with dollar bills. He is able to field six punts at a time. In other words, he catches one, holds it, catches another, holds two, etc. Until he has six in his hand. I want to go outside and try this right now. I think I could do two.
10:18 – We see a clip of Phillips running in slow motion that is slightly different than the opening scene of T.O. running. Jerry Jones tells us Wade thought it was in the Cowboys' best interest for Garrett to stay on as offensive coordinator. Of course he did.
10:19 – Tank Johnson makes an appearance. Man, the cast of characters just goes on and on.
10:21 – A flashback to last year's draft. When the Cowboys' pick comes up, Jerry Jones decides to go with Felix Jones after Garrett explains the difference between him and Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall. Meanwhile, Phillips looks on, wondering where he can get an assistant coaching job in 2009. By the way, I've already mentioned three different Jones' in this running blog. That has to be some kind of record.
10:23 – Marion Barber delivers a brutal block to a blitzing linebacker during practice. Somewhere Chris Gocong just turned off the TV and ran to the weight room.
10:24 -- From an upstairs window, Adam Jones dumps a trash can filled with water on Felix Jones, who is standing down below. A form of rookie hazing, if you will. I'm convinced Pacman doesn't sleep. He has the energy to go to practice and shadow T.O., stay after practice and perform tricks like the six-ball phenomenon and be a practical joker. Not to mention the trouble I'm sure he's getting into when the cameras aren't following him.
10:30 – A rookie gets up in front of the team and belts out "My Girl" as the players go nuts clapping and joining along. I love this show.
10:39 – An injured Terrence Newman shows defensive backs coach Dave Campo how to dance in between drills. Minutes later, the players "pants" Campo, and Phillips announces he's making a rule that you can't pull the coaches' pants down. Not quite the same as Charlie Manuel's "Hustle and be on time" regulations, but I guess you have to adjust to your players.
10:40 – Safety Roy Williams has changed his jersey number from 31 to 38. No worries. Just look for the guy dragging wide receivers down from behind.
10:42 – Another flashback to the draft. This time, cameras show Jerry Jones calling Bennett, but before the Cowboys owner can actually tell the tight end he's been selected, you hear celebrations on the other end of the phone. "My dad was doing chest bumps and booty bumps," Bennett tells us. Did I mention he's my favorite Cowboy?
10:45 – At a combined age of 73 years, Zach Thomas and Brad Johnson appear within a span of 10 seconds. It's almost as if they begged to be on the show, and the producers finally gave in.