The Really Show

Posted Aug 12, 2009

Posted: 2 a.m.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - As the Hard Knocks cameras captured fullback J.D. Runnels Jr., getting cut near the end of its Bengals premiere Wednesday night, Chad Ochocinco wanted his uStream followers to take note.

"That's real life, people. Real life," The Ocho implored into his laptop as director of football operations Jim Lippincott delivered the hardest knock of all. "This is a business. You wonder why we fight and fuss."

Apparently NFL Films did its business well because the players that spoke to in the immediate aftermath of the show were real in their praise of the reality.

And a star was born in the person of tight ends coach Jon Hayes, whose stewardship of rookie Chase Coffman ranged wildly from poignant to hilarious in between him making Coffman doing pushups in the meeting room after watching his mistakes on film.

"Do you have any moves?" Hayes asked him. When Coffman tentatively said, "Yes," Hayes said, "I'd wish you'd start incorporating some of them."

"The whole thing with Chase was pretty good," said linebacker Brandon Johnson. "I thought the whole thing was good. It's pretty real. It shows the game pretty well. The good and the bad."

More business?

As they talked about first-round pick Andre Smith's holdout, the show noted the Bengals gave away his bed when they signed free-agent tackle Gus Parrish.

"You hear that?" The Ocho squealed. "They gave away the man's bed."

As The Ocho twittered and streamed in his room while watching, Antonio Chatman gave Anthony Collins a haircut as Laveranues Coles, Chris Henry and Antwan Odom watched in the next room.

"I like it any time the Bengals are on TV," Collins said. "It showed us working and grinding and that we want to win. My favorite part had to be Ray with the air gun."

One of the biggest laughs was reserved for associate strength coach Ray Oliver when the cameras caught his daily assignment of waking up camp at 6:45 a.m. Meticulously checking his watch in the middle of the courtyard, Oliver uttered "30 seconds," paused, then "10 seconds," and blasted away with a long screech that he ended with a simple, "Wow."

The Ocho got a lot of laughs, of course. Everybody got good treatment and he was no different as the film quickly showed brief clips of him working out during the summer boxing and sprinting on the beach. He gave an explanation of his new saying, "Child, please," in answer to somebody disrespecting him. He said it is basically a nice way tell somebody something you can't say in the morning and the afternoon on HBO.

But what made The Ocho laugh the loudest and send him heaving into the other room was a pre-practice conversation/challenge with safety Chris Crocker that began with Crocker calling him "Sugar or Honey or whatever you call your damn self."

Still, the show supplied balance. It also caught a serious moment with Ochocinco and quarterback Carson Palmer telling him they can't take any plays off because they can't afford not to make a big play when one affords itself this year.

But this wasn't the Chad Show. As the Bengals resident reality TV star, middle linebacker Dhani Jones, said, "It can't be about one guy. It’s about us as a team and there have to be all kinds of storylines."

Yet the best film moment wasn't the funniest, it was the saddest. It came when Bengals trainer Paul Sparling quietly told tight end Reggie Kelly he was done for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Kelly's effort to fight back tears as he tugged to get his pads off is filmmaking at its best.

It looked like The Ocho had to fight back some tears himself as he watched himself comfort Kelly on the show.

"That’s sad," he said. "It doesn't hit you at first until it settles after practice and you begin to think about it. Then you see it on TV just now and it hits home even more."

The players seemed to approve of the way they handled filming tight end Ben Utecht's concussion in which he lay prone on the field for a dozen minutes. The camera hovered on Utecht as he was lifted on to the stretcher and into the ambulance. But instead of following him to the hospital, they got a riveting shot of Bengals president Mike Brown walking back to his dorm room talking about how scary the game can be.

Brown, who likes his privacy, got two other calls in the show. In the first one they took an excerpt from his introductory speech in the first camp meeting in which he emphasized "We were embarrassed last year," and "Now is the time to fight back to show what we can do and have the kind of season we all want."

It also shows him in a personnel meeting with the coaches and trainers, mulling the possibility of now maybe keeping just two tight ends and an extra fullback or two, and even asking if the coaches think defensive end Chris Harrington is athletic enough to play tight end.

"That's the way it is. Somebody gets hurt and someone has to step up. Like Chase after Utecht got hurt," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "It was good. All the reality was definitely there."

Whitworth got a dose, too. It showed him and wife Melissa in their Louisiana home as he gets ready to leave for training camp. Her reaction to his explanation of the Oklahoma drill was funny enough that the Ocho repeated her "Hrrmph."

"That came out well; I was a little worried," said Whitworth of his wife, a TV newscaster in Monroe, La. "My wife is pretty blunt. She's a TV anchor so she doesn't care what she says. They miked her during the scrimmage, but they didn't use it so I guess everything was OK."

Jones, who starred in Dhani Tackles The Globe for the Travel Channel, says you can never tell what is going to make it.

"You may think you know, but you can never tell because it's all about the stories. That's what the people want to see and they've got some pretty good ones," Jones said. "The tight ends. Jeremi (Johnson) and the fullbacks. Chad. I know what kind of season Chad is going to have on the field, so I like seeing the previews."

Head coach Marvin Lewis is also a story, which is how the documentary starts. They focus on his approach to building off a four-win season and start the show two months before training camp with the minicamp "Superstars" competition, a fun event in which linemen tried to shoot three-pointers and catch punts all the while Lewis emphasizing competition.

It turns out the cameras have been catching a little competition between Ocho and Whitworth as they discuss boxing and what they would do to each other. Wednesday's show showed The Ocho blocking Whitworth's elbow.

"We’ll see if what happened today makes it," Whitworth said. "We like to slap box and let's just say he knows now why they have weight classes."

The Ocho might not mind that if they keep it real.

"I liked it, but there's so much more that I said," he said. "From what I hear."

As he left the room, Odom let out a "Child, please."

In less than eight hours, Oliver would blast the horn again.


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