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HBO’s Hard Knocks Fumbled The Ball On The Antonio Brown Saga

The realness was missing from football’s No. 1 reality show.

What’s the point of having all access if you’re not going to give the people what they want?

That was the feeling after watching Tuesday night’s episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders” that marginally addressed all the drama that’s been surrounding Antonio Brown.

And while it only took five minutes for the first sports-based reality series in the history of television to address, and show, the issue with Brown’s feet – he’s recovering from extreme frostbite after not wearing the proper footwear during a cryotherapy session – the situation with his helmet wasn’t even mentioned until halfway through the episode.

HBO’s cameras were at practice earlier in the day on Tuesday when Brown returned to the facilities for the first time in two weeks. After leaving camp to deal with his ailing feet, Brown had also been in the news due to losing a grievance with the league after not being allowed to wear his old helmet, which had led to him saying that he would retire if he couldn’t get his away.

But on Monday, Brown accepted the decision from an independent arbitrator. He’s now looking for a version of the Schutt Air Advantage helmet that was made after 2010.

“I’m extremely grateful to be here,” Brown said. “Been dealing with a lot of adversity. I’m excited to be back, see my teammates, and get in the groove of things.”

Brown has finally surrendered.

“All the talk about retirement and everything else, that’s not a consideration right now,” said Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus. “He’s committed to the team, he’s committed to the season, and everyone can take solace in that. He’ll be playing this year and playing for the Raiders.”

That’s all great if you’re a Raiders fan, but for the rest of us that tuned in Tuesday night expecting to see how it all went down, we were left empty-handed. The wide receiver that was prioritized was an undrafted and hometown rookie named Keelan Doss.

And while Doss’ story fits the annual narrative of a rookie trying to make the team, this wasn’t supposed to be his night.

We expected to get a field-level view of the circus that is Antonio Brown, but all we got to see was Doss catching a three-yard touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in the Raiders opening preseason game.

It was cute, but we wanted more.

Since it first aired in 2001, Hard Knocks has been a hit because it’s a peek behind the curtain to what life is really like in the NFL. We’ve seen players get cut and make the team. We’ve seen coaches get fired. And we’ve witnessed all the drama that comes along with cutting an NFL roster down to 53 players. It’s one of the reasons why the show won 16 Sports Emmys in its first 12 seasons.

Coming into last season, 5 of the 12 teams on the show went on to improve upon their previous record that season, including five franchises that would go on to make the playoffs. And then there’s the fact that 5 of those teams wound up finishing with a worse record then they had the year before. Last season the Cleveland Browns were featured after coming off an 0-16 season. They finished the year 7-8-1.

These are the things that have made Hard Knocks so intriguing over the years.

For instance, in Season 5 we watched as Chad Johnson became a household name, while we were also introduced to the late Chris Henry as the Cincinnati Bengals were the focus.

The next season we got to see how the New York Jets handled Darrelle Revis’ dicey holdout situation. And in Season 7, we watched as former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin cut Johnson, ultimately ending his NFL career.

That’s the kind of stuff we were expecting to see on Tuesday. But in the end, all we got was a teaser for next week’s episode that will give us a more detailed account of what really happened with Brown.

The only thing is, by that time something even more dramatic will probably have already taken place.

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