I so badly wanted to focus this column on Robert Saleh’s competitor speech. If there are four different levels of competitors, one of those four levels cannot be titled “competitor.” By saying there are different levels of competitor means that no matter the level, everyone is a competitor. That speech bothered me throughout the episode, until I saw the New York Jets rookies take a second crack at the talent show.
In their first attempt, the rookie went from reenacting a scene from a movie about breakdancing in which none of them danced, to trying to get the entire team to scan a QR code to play a game. It was awful. If they performed in the Michael Jackson “Remember the Time” video Iman would have sent them to the lions.
The rookies were told that they would have to perform again, and while watching their second attempt, I briefly longed for the old rookie hazing Hard Knocks segments. It turned into a karaoke night in the middle of the day.
Their teammates had Gatorade and water in front of them instead of cocktails. This was not the time and place for everyone to sing classics poorly. And for those that did, not nearly enough of them fully committed to their bits. HBO gave Jerome Kapp — shoutout to America still producing white Jeromes — two minutes of screen time to perform Eminem’s entire final rap in 8 Mile. He at least went through a modicum of effort to commit to the role of B-Rabbit.
Kapp’s offensive linemen brethren did not come with nearly the same effort with their rendition of the 1999 Backstreet Boys classic, “I Want It That Way.” Joe Tippman and Brent Lang basically led a sing-a-long and were justifiably shot at with a Nerf gun. They didn’t even have to dance. All they had to do was wear white Jets gear and pose 90s fisheye cam style.
Zach Kuntz was the best, because he sang Keyshia Cole’s “Love” with some passion. He took his shirt off and let that terrible voice ring out through the entire meeting room. Kuntz’s performance deserved more than 20 seconds of air time.
Clearly, none of the rookies have ever watched Hard Knocks, because the best rookie talent shows always impersonate the coaches and veterans. One of my first memories of the show is the inaugural season when Tim Robinson brought the house down with his portrayal of Shannon Sharpe.
The easiest jokes are making fun of coworkers. We all do it in private. The beauty of football is everyone is supposed to be tough, so coaches with decades in the game can laugh off a 22-year-old mocking their mannerisms. For whatever guff rookies still have to take, the show is supposed to be their moment for revenge. Football players are professional athletes, not comedians, but I firmly believe that one of the Jets could have pulled off Robert Saleh spending 85 percent of his airtime cheesing about Aaron Rodgers.
From watching the third episode the veterans appeared to be satisfied with the rookies’ second effort, but whoever is left on the roster next season needs to call newcomers right after they get drafted. Because next year’s rookies have a lot of work to do to make up for the abomination of a show the current ones put on two weeks in a row.