FAB 3. The Bucs’ Funniest Moments Of Hard Knocks
Not only did the Buccaneers survive Hurricane Irma, the team also survived Hard Knocks.
The five-week HBO series produced by NFL Films portrayed the Bucs in a positive light and furthered the star power of quarterback Jameis Winston and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. It also put rookies like linebacker Riley Bullough, wide receiver Bobo Wilson and former running back Jeremy McNichols in the spotlight, too.
Shortly after the Bucs were given an impromptu bye week due to Hurricane Irma forcing the NFL to postpone Tampa Bay’s 2017 season opener in Miami to Week 11, I canvassed the locker room to ask several players what their favorite moment of Hard Knocks was. Here is what they said.
“At the food truck, watching big Bake (defensive tackle Chris Baker) get down,” said Bucs linebacker Lavonte David. “You know he’s always dancing, but he got down with the tree, man! I was right there looking at the whole thing. It was kind of funny. It was a surreal moment.”
Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans watched every episode and had a hard time picking out just one moment.
“There are so many to choose from,” Evans said. “The rookies singing – that was funny. Also Jameis talking to Sefo [Liufau] about practice, and telling him how it is, that was probably my favorite moment.”
Bucs center Ali Marpet was featured in one episode playing a ukulele in a park at the beach that opened some eyes about Marpet’s interests outside of football.
“I can’t say that I saw every episode,” Marpet said. “I think I saw two episodes. I have yet to see the one with me playing the ukulele at the beach. My family texted me and said they loved that one, so I was happy about that. Anytime Jameis was on camera it was great because people get to see who he actually is and he’s a genuine, happy and competitive guy. That made me happy.”
Marpet had a funny outtake that was featured in the final scene as the credits rolled. The NFL Films crew was setting up the shot of him playing the ukulele on the beach and he asked the producer if the shot was cheesy – with a little bit of profanity thrown in.
I. Am. Crying. 😂☠️ pic.twitter.com/00tRkxxOAP
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 6, 2017
“If I’d seen that one, that would have been the funniest moment for me,” Marpet said.
Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson laughed when I asked him about Marpet’s ukulele playing skills.
“Man, I’ve never seen him play the ukulele around here, but I heard that Hard Knocks was going to go out to the park with him and he did it, but I don’t know about his playing,” Dotson said. “We did give him some stuff about going out to the park to play the ukulele, though. That was funny.”
Fullback Alan Cross also didn’t see every episode, but cracked up at a few moments he did see.
“I didn’t watch a lot of them because I don’t have HBO at the house,” Cross said. “It was cool seeing Gerald goofing around. He’s so funny. Probably the best was when they zoomed in on [Ryan] Griffin and Humphries at the hot yoga place. I gave them so much shit for that. That was funny. The QB pregame rhymes were funny, too. I’ve heard them all because I’m usually standing right there. Fitz (quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) started it. They’re funny.”
Some players didn’t even watch the Hard Knocks episodes. Undrafted rookie free agent Antony Auclair, who hails from Canada, was too busy trying to make the 53-man roster to watch.
“To be honest with you I didn’t watch any of the Hard Knocks episodes because I thought it was a little bit of stress watching them and I was focused on making the team,” Auclair. “I didn’t really care about the show during camp. I’ll probably watch it at some point.”
Auclair was featured in the final episode when the team was making the roster cuts. Instead of being one of the players called in to Dirk Koetter’s offense to hear the grim news that they wouldn’t be making the team, Auclair was invited in to hear Koetter tell him that he was going to remain a Buccaneer.
“I heard I was on the last episode,” Auclair said. “I knew it was good news when they called me because they didn’t tell me to bring my Surface (which has the Bucs’ playbook on it). I was so tired from the preseason games and from camp that I didn’t even have any reaction when Dirk told me I made the team. I was just dead. But I called my dad after that and I was so happy. My dad was happy. He cried. For Canadians it’s a big thing because a lot of people up there were following me during camp with the camp diaries on your website [PewterReport.com]. They really loved those. I really appreciated those and appreciate the support from up North.”
Auclair wasn’t the only one who made sure he didn’t watch Hard Knocks in August.
“I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t watched any of them,” Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries said. “I haven’t watched a single episode. All I’ve seen are the highlights the Bucs posted on Instagram. That’s all I’ve seen. I watched the Bobo scene because I heard that was funny, but that’s it.
“I’ll get around to it at some point, but I have a good vision of this team and a good view of this team, and sometimes a reality show like that can kind of skew things and show the things they only want to show. I didn’t want my vision of this team to change. I know what we’ve got in this locker room, and things can change from TV shows. I’ll probably watch it later on, though.”
Most of the Bucs players I polled said that McCoy’s antics stole the show.
“The funniest thing was watching Gerald throughout the whole time,” Dotson said. “Gerald is a guy who loves the camera and watching him do his theatrics and crazy stuff was funny. I think Hard Knocks got a kick out of it. We got a kick out of it. He did some extra stuff just to please Hard Knocks, but that’s the kind of guy he is. That excited him because he loves that stuff. That was my favorite moment of watching Hard Knocks. He was going above and beyond to show he could do some acting I guess.”
Dotson is right in that McCoy was playing up to the cameras, but the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle wasn’t being fake or phony about it. McCoy’s personality can be larger than life, and as a team leader, he amped up the clowning around to add some much-needed humor to the show.
While Hard Knocks provided a behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers, it was void of any controversy, and some might say that outside of McCoy’s hi-jinx it was a bit boring, especially for those viewers who aren’t Tampa Bay fans.
Thankfully it was McCoy to the rescue.
“The funniest thing I saw on Hard Knocks was Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald doing the sumo wrestling pass rush moves,” said Bucs cornerback Robert McClain. “Hands down that was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I wasn’t expecting that, and when I saw it – that was original right there. That will forever be a classic Hard Knocks moment. I liked it.”
— PewterReport (@PewterReport) September 7, 2017
“My favorite moment of Hard Knocks was any moment I wasn’t on it,” Tampa Bay safety Chris Conte said. “There was a scene with Clint and Gerald doing the Kung Fu. I’ve never seen them do that before and I don’t know if they do that every day.”
I asked McCoy and McDonald about the origin of their Kung Fu pass rush moves drill and whether that was created for Hard Knocks or if that had been a long-standing tradition.
“We’ve been doing that for a long time,” McDonald said. “It gets to the point in practice where you have to make it interesting. You have to make your work fun. That’s our way of making work fun. It just got exposed through Hard Knocks, and I think everybody enjoyed it, but we’ve been doing that for a while.”
“We’ve been doing it for a whole year,” McCoy said. “One of us made a noise when we started doing it and we kind of just went with it and played off the other one.”
I asked the locker mates what they called their Kung Fu pass rush drill.
“Work,” McCoy said.
“We call it ‘work’” McDonald said. “It’s serious work, but you’ve got to make work fun. If we knew real Japanese we’d give you some long name that meant ‘work’ in Japanese, but we don’t know no Japanese.”
While the Hard Knocks show had its share of light-hearted moments chronicling a team on the rise in Tampa Bay, the behind-the-scenes insight was not only relished by Bucs fans, it was appreciated by the players, too.
“There is obviously a lot of stuff that goes on that wasn’t captured,” Conte said. “It’s cool to see what goes on, especially on the offensive side of the ball because we don’t get to see that. It’s like we’re two different teams in the NFL – an offensive team and a defensive team. We don’t spend a lot of time with the offensive guys, so it was neat seeing some of the meeting dynamics and what goes on over there. I thought they did a really good job with Hard Knocks.”
I did, too.
In the end, Hard Knocks wasn’t a distraction and only helped increase the Bucs fan base locally and nationally.
In addition to providing quite a few laughs, too.