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Hard Knocks, Episode 3 Recap: Punters, Lisa Jr. And Ugly Olaf

More from the HBO series chronicling the New York Jets.

Howdy, Hard Knockers. Welcome to another funderful hour of whimsy and magic. Or, you know, just more shots of Rexy eating stuff that's bad for him. We'll see! To the episode!

I gotta say, I have one big problem with the title sequence on the show. They show players working out against the fantastic backdrops of the greatest city in the world. They show intense practice shots of players warming up for the season. They show New York's beautiful buildings, Rexy speaking to the ferocious New York media and then ... they show Nick Mangold picking up his dry cleaning. Really? That's supposed to get me pumped for this show? I half expect to see Braylon Edwards getting McDonalds or Antonio Cromartie taking his daughter to Forever 21 in the next cut-away. 

Anyway, we open with a shot of the Jets locker room after the Giants game, after the terrible second half, with Kris Jenkins giving the rest of his defensive cohorts the business, dying to play better next week against Carolina. Meanwhile, Boss Woody, Rexy and the Un-nickname-able Mike Tannenbaum feel that this is their warning. Yeah, because third stringers playing against third stringers and producing three quick, almost freak play touchdowns is totally happening in the regular season. Take it easy, guys. The only people who care about how that ended is you guys. Not even Jet fans kept watching after Eli bled all over the field.

Omniscient Liev Schreiber (by the way, did you know that the Chiefs got an Omniscient Paul Rudd when they did this show? No offense to Omniscient Liev, but that seems like much more fun) tells us that this is the Jets final week in Cortland before the game against Carolina, and there is much to do. Like a film class with Rexy, who is preaching that the Jets "won the varsity game, and loss the JV game." I'm not even convinced of that, it isn't like they really outplayed the Giants either way. Mike Pettine, who is wearing a Phillies t-shirt to endear him to the New York fans watching the show, tells them that the 2's and 3's flat-out "sucked." 

Meanwhile, Brian Schottenheimer is lecturing the offense. Mark Sanchez is wearing a Taco Bell hat. Stereotyping or product placement? You be the judge! Mike Westhoff is also saying something or other to the special teams players, but neither you nor I really care. But Omniscient Liev cares, and as he points out, all the mid-level scrubby players' only chance to make the rosters is to play special teams. Including David Clowney, who totally lit the Giants on fire during the preseason last year. Which, based on this show, sent the Giants coaches into a tailspin of angry toward the second and third unit defenses. The brain trust is unsure of what to do with Clowney, who explains to us how many people are on a team.

Clowney and Westhoff are having some sort of argument where Westhoff ruthlessly threatens to cut Clowney on the field, which causes some rube receiver I've never seen before to marvel that Westhoff is "ruthless." I like you, rube I've never heard of. Rube's name is Matt Mulligan, Omniscient Liev kindly explains, and he's "right on the ragged edge" of the roster with Clowney. Westhoff wants more hustle out of Mulligan, and he doesn't care if "you've got the triple-fuckin' Asian flu" to be able to do it. I've had that flu, it's not that hard to break through. Quit being a wuss, rube. Westhoff just wants him to play to his strengths. 

Rexy seems baffled at what's happening, as we see incomplete passes and all kinds of stuff going wrong. It's as if the Jets took stupid pills. You know who'd save them ... Victor Cruz! Rexy says the practice "wasn't worth a shit." I agree, as shit is trading upwards on the market like you wouldn't believe, even in the recession.

Omniscient Liev is talking about how injuries have become an issue, and that means the team trainer gets some air time. Good for him. Mike Tannenbaum has to let someone go to replace an injured linebacker. It's going to be one of the two punters, Steve Weatherford or TJ Conley. Weatherford is the incumbent, Conley the young challenger. One will leave today. Again, the problem with the show is that all the Jets issues are either off limits (Revis) or super friggin' boring. It's the punters and fullbacks show! Rexy and Conley discuss how much better he's gotten. He says he can kick now. Unfortunately, that now is not for the Jets, and he's sent on his way, and thank goodness that's all over.

Now, for some "lighthearted" stuff. As Omniscient Liev states, the annual "rookie show" is tomorrow and Mike Tannenbaum apparently wants to hire a magic act to help them out. Rexy and Tannenbaum debate how much they have to pay a magician. Or an illusionist, if you get it alliance-approved. The lady whom I'm unsure the identity of haggled this dude down to $2500 from his regular rate. Someone found out he'd be getting some screen time on HBO, didn't they? Because "we're a great client" is the lamest excuse I've ever heard to give a 50 percent discount. ILLUSION!

Oh, and there's a fight going on! A bunch of the linemen get into a brief tussle after two of the linemen start shoving one another, which Rexy claims is natural, and Sanchez said he saw coming. 

So now I need to pause to spell the name of the next defensive lineman, whom is listed at 6-foot-8: Ropati Pitoitua. Okay, not saying that name again. There's an episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes a missionary, and during his travels, meets a girl with a similar voice to Lisa. When Homer hears her incredibly byzantine, unpronounceable name, he simply refers to her as "Lisa Jr." Ropati Pitoitua? You will now be referred as "Lisa Jr." Anyway, Lisa Jr. is discussing how he uses his size to stay on the roster, and Mike Carrier, the d-line coach - claims he's immovable and a great talent, and Rexy and Mike Pettine agree that he's near ready to take a step up. Today was a good day for Lisa Jr. 

The coaching staff begins Skype-ing, or some reasonable facsimile of the Web chat world, to talk to their families and children. Mike Pettine's daughter notices him eating Oreos and chides him for it. Yeesh, I'd hate it if she were Rexy's kid. Even his daughter wants to know about Revis, that's ridiculous. Afterward, the coaching staff takes part in an even more worthwhile activity - playing Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Which I totally didn't know was still a thing.

Back to the workout room, which is located on what looks to be SUNY-Cortland's hockey rink, which I totally didn't know they had. Sigh, I miss hockey. Rexy and Boss Woody work out, cuing up shots of every going just a little bit faster than Rexy. He seems to be keeping up though, and his self-confidence remains as high as ever. He proclaims them all to be "studs." Duh. Mark Sanchez remains hopelessly dull. His big thing today is he's pondering if he can beat Antonio Cromartie in a race with a head start of 20-30 yards. 

Now the focus is on Adam Tadisch, a YouTube phenomenon according to Omniscient Liev. Watch what he did here. I can totally see Rexy being like "Holy shit! I never before seen that in my entire life! I gotta' get this dude on the phone!" Rexy points out Tadisch's impressive girth to Boss Woody. Tadisch appears to be defeating opponents by eating them. Also blocking well. Bill Callahan seems intrigued enough.

Another rookie, Brian Jackson, gets "mouthy" according to Omniscient Liev. Dennis Thurman, the d-backs coach, is not taking any of this. Thurman, who has been called "an angry black man" and should probably talk to an HR rep about this, is unimpressive to Jackson. Jackson is unimpressive to Kris Jenkins. So Jenkins decides to tie him up, hog-style onto the goalposts. Awesome. They then start to poor hot sauce, shaving cream, Gatorade and baby powder all over him. This seems more like fun than a lesson. Jackson seems humbled by it, at worst. 

Mike Westhoff is explaining a story to his special teams folks about how discouragement is powerful. He says discouragement can end their careers. Cool story, bro.

Meanwhile, tiny running back Danny Woodhead is impressing people with his hitting ability. He Talking Heads about how the "Division II" and "Small" tags have been laid on him. The brain trust is discussing whether he can be kept or dropped. He would have to make the team as the 53rd man. Larry Taylor, even smaller than Woodhead, is a receiver trying to get on the roster. His smile is contagious, especially with the grill shining through. Taylor's shown making a decent return against the Giants. Westhoff has turned the 5'6" man into a specialist of sorts. 

Now, it's time for a Rexy Physical Challenge! Each side of the team picks one player to throw the ball 65 yards so they can head off the field. Brian Jackson is the undoubtedly controversial defensive choice, and he gets it done, clearing the fence. It's a redeeming moment, or something. Triumph of the human spirit and everything. Lets cut some people! Tannenbaum and Rexy want 25 defensive players, 23 offensive players, 3 specialists, and 2 open spaces, not considering Darrelle Revis. There are so many players we've already seen for a bit during this episode! Only ... some of them will stay, I guess.

Now the players are having a King Ugly contest during the Rookie Talent show, which reminds me of when Snoopy's fat cousin showed up and Lucy entered him in an ugly dog contest. Poor Ugly Olaf. Who will be the Jets Ugly Olaf and no doubt get the nickname from an annoying writer for the final two weeks of the series? Mike Pettine seems concerned!

The gang assembles in the theater, and Rexy introduces the illusionist. He comments that his fiance is hot, which, okay Rexy. He then proceeds to do a card trick, which causes someone to say "Make Revis show up." Hah! A fake Rexy, complete with fatsuit shows up and embarrasses Jason Taylor with some photos of his, er, modeling career. These are examples of how not to play like a Jet. Then the gang makes fun of Westhoff. This is delightful. I enjoy this more than I enjoy more than 90% of the sitcoms on TV. 

The gang demands more, and rookie d-back Bo Smith is asked to sing a song. He then affects this strange voice that sounds like a mix of that tiny duckling on Tom and Jerry and a helium whiphit. So this is Justin Bieber! This is just kind of sad after awhile, and the rest of the players know it. I guess tough shit and such. Should have shown more of the magic guy, since he gave you that massive discount.

Now it's time for King Ugly, which Jim Leonhard -- whose been conspicuously absent from the show so far -- will name. Vladimir Ducasse finishes third and second, while Brian Jackson wins, which seems ... strange. His crown is a Burger King crown Rexy totally stole one day, and he gets a cape and a plunger. This is the strangest storyline any TV show character's ever gone through in one episode.

It's time to leave Cortland, and Rexy acknowledges that the team usually plays historically bad when they break camp. Yeesh, I hope the other team doesn't play a terrible game too, resulting in one of the worst displays of football ever. That would be terrible, if such a thing could happen. Anyway, goodbye Cortland, hello Charlotte! Again, I'm not going to recap the game, since you all know what happened, and I don't really want to know after reading the box score. Rexy encourages the gang to have fun. I imagine he was probably disappointed. 

Uh oh, bad news, it appears Lisa Jr. has a foot injury. I feel bad now. Holy cow, Kris Jenkins is carrying him to the cart. That's amazing. He should be in one of those strong man contests. I can barely lift a table, much less a 6-foot-8 manchild defensive lineman. In the locker room, the team physician thinks that his achilles tendon is torn, and they'll find out more on Sunday or Monday. What a shame. The team physician comforts him, promising they can fix it. I hope so. Rexy sounds horribly disappointed, and points to another player and notes that, uh, this might be a good time to show up and win a job. Pitoitua sits alone, dejected.

Larry Taylor doesn't look good, while Joe McKnight impresses. Vernon Gholston appears to have found the right spot for himself. The third string looks terrible again. Rexy really wants to win the game, so the third-stringers are out and the second-stringers are in, which gives a chance for Rexy's best line of the show: "This guy couldn't play dead in a B-Western." Haha! Movie references. Rexy and John Fox meet after the game and called it "a pillow fight." Yeah. Boss Woody and Mike Tannenbaum greet the team in the hallway. Rexy says that sometimes the defense picks up the offense, and he's much more optimistic than last week. Winning changes everything.

The Jets are heading back home to ... New York! Or not, because the damned training facility is FLORHAM PARK, N.J.! Jesus. Come on guys. Anyway, it is a first shot of New Jersey that isn't the stadium, so drink. By the way, Rexy and his wife are playing Sudoku on an iPad. That's awesome. Oh Rexy. Now we get some shots of a key Jet signing a contract ... could it be? ... oh, it's just Nick Mangold. Oh well, easy come, easy go. Now he can probably get someone to pick up his dry cleaning.

YouTube sensation Adam Tadisch is being cut. Ah well. There's always arena league stardom, or ... the UFL. He says he'll go back to Green Bay and live with Grandma. That's, uh, the end of the show. Yikes, awkward. Bummer too.

NEXT WEEK!: Players come home! The team still looks terrible! Other things! See you next week.