Last week’s preseason game between the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg was one of the strangest you’ll find.
The field had to be shortened to 80 yards because the Packers objected to the job the grounds crew did patching a hole the end zone, where the CFL goal post was.
It gave this week’s episode of “Hard Knocks” its best moments, as Jon Gruden voiced his opinion.
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Gruden wasn’t happy, let’s say.
Jon Gruden wasn’t happy about shortened field
About halfway into the episode we saw Packers officials examining the field, and the fallout started.
“You heard any word on the end zone?” Packers coach Matt LaFleur asked Gruden on “Hard Knocks.”
“Fine with us,” Gruden replied. “It’s not Lambeau Field quality, I know. But we’re playing. You guys don’t want to play or what, on the end zone?”
“I said hey, I don’t really care,” LaFleur said. “I just want to kick off and start playing ball.”
“Let’s just play the game, man,” Gruden said.
The coaches did get to see their teams play (the Packers pulled 33 players from the game before the opening kickoff), but on a weird short field where the end zones started at the 10-yard line. Gruden really let it fly when quarterback Derek Carr sidled up to him on the sideline, and “Hard Knocks” captured it well.
“Unbelievable. People piss me off, Derek. Sorry,” Gruden said. “Been playing in the game a long time, man. Got some guy get off the bus and says, ‘You can’t play here.’”
“Unbeliievable,” Carr said.
“It really is,” Gruden said.
A little later, Gruden gave the line of the night, after an official told him he needed to stay in the coaches’ box.
“Just throw the flag on me, will you?” Gruden said. “I’ve had enough f—-ing grief.”
Gruden’s mood changed by the time the Raiders beat the Packers.
“Ain’t nothing wrong with that field, man!” Gruden said.
Gruden has been the best part of ‘Hard Knocks’
Focusing so much of the first few episodes on Antonio Brown’s drama took time from the most interesting figure on the Raiders, and that’s Gruden. It was mesmerizing and odd watching Gruden count down from 100 to 0 by 3s to his players during practice (“97, 94, 91 ... “). He’s a character in a game that doesn’t have enough of them.
Gruden has a couple funny moments each episode, and his speeches to the team are gold. The montage of his “knock on wood if you’re with me,” followed by his players knocking on the desk in front of them, was a highlight of Tuesday’s show.
We’re going to practice in shorts again, knock on wood if you’re with me.
Don’t shove sand up a flea’s a—. Knock on wood if you’re with me.
Do not cut your pants, knock on wood if you’re with me.
There were other interesting moments, including tight end Darren Waller, who was open about his drug use earlier in his career, going to a 12-step meeting. Rookies sang in front of the team, and did so poorly. Teammates and coaches asked ridiculous questions of tight end Luke Willson, who is Canadian, before the team’s trip to Canada.
And Gruden punctuated the episode with a great one-liner to the unpredictable Brown at the end of last week’s preseason game.
“Don’t miss the plane,” Gruden said with a laugh.
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