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Five Lessons from Hard Knocks: The Jets 2023 Opener

Now in it's 17th season, HBO's Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets has taken flight. Though college football seems to have met a lot of turbulence, this NFL's season is ready for take off. 

Producers of the show must be thrilled with the addition of the future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. For Jets fans, between the defect from Green Bay and plenty of youthful talent, there's so much to be excited about and reasons to remain hopeful. I offer but five observations from the season opener and look forward to what the show, and the season reveal. J-E-T-S.... Jets! Jets! Jets!

1. From the Flight Deck
Every season opens with the head coach offering a motivational speech, a unconventional cry to "wake up the echoes" and set the tone for the season. The Jets—veterans, rookies, coaches and those trying to make the team—are together in the film room. It's obvious they aren't sure where Coach Saleh is taking them when encourages them to take out their pens or pencils and reveals what brought him into deep thought. 

He names the only bird that can take down an eagle is the crow. After all, who wants to identify with a crow? #gross.

Instead, Saleh addresses what the eagle must do to prevail: climb higher and higher. He asks, 

What are you doing to find that little bit more to get us closer to being a great team...

You finish practice: Now what? You finish meetings: Now what? You finish lifting... a rep...

And if we come together and challenge ourselves to do a little bit more—everyday. The crows will fall by themselves. Let's embrace what we are capable of. Let's embrace that we're not the same Jets. 
Saleh's made a good point. It would have been better if the Jets were...the Eagles.

2. Fun vs. Fundamentals
Much like his teammates, I too am obsessed with Aaron Rodgers ability to throw the no-look pass. His talent only makes me wonder how good #8 must be on the basketball court. 

Rodgers mentors Zach Wilson, the QB the Jets took as the second pick in the 2021 NFL. As noted, it must be hard to be brought in as the new face of an organization only to be replaced by a legend. Regardless, from the looks of it, Rodgers and Wilson work well together. Especially in one of  two areas: fun and fundamentals.

Schreiber said "Today's lesson: no look passes are fun. Avoiding sacks? Fundamental." I love the distinction. Coaches, take note. Players, pay attention. Let's pronounce and practice both.

3. Pylon Game
Every coach and every athlete cannot and should not forget: keep training fun. This is essential as the hours are many, and the days are long. Fun need not be a mindset, it can be practiced and played through games. Enter in the pylon game. So basic, so simple, and so on point. QBs need to hit a target. Why not make it a pylon, points included. 

The psychological piece keeps it spicy. Noted.

4. DeMarcus Ware
One of the great joys in life is to be surprised by the gifts and talents of a friend or teammate—off the field.

A tradition at St. Ignatius College Prep was FML: Friday Morning Liturgy at 8:00 a.m. in Orradre Chapel. Many sports teams attended mass together during the season, before a big game, etc. In the fall, the football team sat together in shirt and tie every Friday, without fail.

I can still see the reactions of the squad, when one of their teammates Danny, came to the microphone. The fact that Danny had a great voice wasn't surprising, No. It's just that he was that good. 

He sang the lyrics for "Jesus Give Us Your Peace" solo. He invited the congregation to join in the refrain, which was easy to do. His teammates could not WAIT to contribute. He was confident and sharing his talent truly made mass better—more prayerful, more joyful, all of it.

Before the Jets scrimmage against the Browns, NFL Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware takes the stage to sing the national anthem. Everyone is surprised. Where did that come from?! Does Ware have a Hall of Fame voice? Not really. Does he sing a tough song well. He does. Just another reason to respect the man.

Congrats DeMarcus.

5. That which does not disappoint.
If you're like me, you have a few people you can turn to to discuss your excitement and anticipation for Hard Knocks. Always my go-to girl, Haley said, "I can't wait for the music and Liev Schreiber." The "Voice of God" arrives via helicopter. It's overstated, yet Schreiber totally rolls with it.... and that bass line from  "Voices Inside My Head" by The Police keeps it going.

Indeed both the music and the narration are masterful. The usage of creative, often contemporary music only highlights what is taking place on the field. For example, the interview with Coach Saleh is Hard Knocks at its best when set to the music of Ed Sheeran.

He's asked: Aaron Rogers: What has be brought to your team?

Saleh: He's obviously the best Quarterback I've ever had on the team.

Press play on Sheeran's hit "Shivers."  The lyrics, the beat, capture what words cannot.

Back to Saleh: 
Everyone is chasing the top tier QB because they change teams, they change locker rooms. 

It's just so good. Hard Knocks—you don't disappoint.


In Conclusion
The Voice of God (in case you haven't figured it out by now, Liev Schreiber) said that 

Training camp is about getting better. Part of that process is discovering who you are...

Some teams can't handle the glare of bright lights, but a Future hall of Famer is leading these Jets, showing them the way and the young roster is responding.

I have questions that have yet to be answered: Is Rodgers just acting, or is he really this type of a teammate? Will I end up making the Jets my AFC team? Will Saleh succeed? 

From both the offensive and defensive Rookies of the Year: Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner to a dynamic coaching staff and a roster that has yet to be set, it's great to have an inside look into what motivates a team, the importance of leadership, how individuals can make a difference, why we love this beautiful, violent, demanding, team sport. 

Enjoy the show. I look forward to the soundtrack.

Photo Credits
Hard Knocks logo
Coach Saleh
Zach and crew
Liev and Aaron
Aaron sidelines



source https://sportsandspirituality.blogspot.com/2023/08/five-lessons-from-hard-knocks-jets-2023.html

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