Looking to combat tepid national interest in the Miami Dolphins, HBO in conjunction with NFL Films, leaned heavily on the comedic and philosophical musings of Chad Johnson to drum up interest and buzz for the new season of Hard Knocks.
Johnson delivered with a myriad of memorable moments and quotes like the one above which sadly seems to be a false prognostication tool into the identification of a future spouse. With Johnson's swift and perhaps too swift demise in Miami, HBO now has the insider perspective on how the Dolphins organization arrived at their decision and how that decision was delivered.
Given almost one fifth of the season premiere was devoted to Chad Johnson's off color comments during a press conference and Joe Philbin's awkward "I'm not mad at you, I'm just playing the role of a new older authority figure who talks to you like you're an idiot," HBO is certainly sitting on some gold for a highly anticipated second episode featuring the Johnson fallout.
A blessing at first glance, the reality is that Hard Knocks is losing its only stand out star after one episode. The first episode really only followed three main plots with them being 1) Chad Johnson is some mix of comedic genius, insane, and fame obsessed. 2) The Dolphins have have a 3 way QB battle that seems as hard to call as Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker, vs. The Rock. 3) Joe Philbin is new in town and despite watching Seinfeld, he's awkward..... really awkward.
Johnson's demise will likely dominate the episode in addition to some unexpected developments in the QB competition. This gives HBO a limited amount of minutes to plant new storylines and nurture some of the ones they've already been active in featuring. Joe Philbin's awkwardness isn't exactly getting people into a frenzy and despite some quality time spent with Mrs. Tannehill, I'm not sure America really can sink their teeth into what's unfolding there. Damon Huard vs. Brodie Croyle didn't exactly equate to watercooler conversation back in 2007 when their QB competition was featured on Hard Knocks, even with the aid of Croyle having a wife that turned some heads.
Johnson's departure can be likened to Steven Seagal's death in the movie Executive Decision in which he unexpectedly dies early on the movie. Yes it was kind of cool to watch, but I thought I signed up for 134 minutes of Seagal and now you're leaving me with freaking Oliver Platt, John "kind of an actor kind of a comedian, crappy at both" Leguizamo, and Halle Berry who is not in any type of revealing outfit for the next 95 minutes. Not cool.
I love football and Hard Knocks regardless, but HBO has its work cut out as the attention span of a lot of folks is rather short. Buzz about Showtime's The Franchise fell after Ozzie Guillen's political comments and suspension.
While I don't consider Johnson to be that interesting or even talented at this point, he was a reason to watch similar to Seagal, who let's be honest - really wasn't much of a good actor or martial artist.
Both guaranteed some level of entertainment and in the wake of an epic career implosion, HBO now inherits the challenge of propping up national interest in a football team that just lost the bulk of what people found interesting. In a perfect scenario the Johnson saga would have played out over 2 episodes, but with swift action taken, HBO has a tough assignment ahead that is compounded with the quick production and post-production turnarond the show requires. On Tuesday we'll see what will likely be the most watched episode of Hard Knocks. After that, it's anyone's guess.