A very different season of HBO’s Hard Knocks featuring the New York Jets concluded with a positive episode focusing on the good entering a highly anticipated 2023 NFL season.
Best moment: Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson make the 53-man roster
From the start, it was clear when they were forced on that the Jets did not want to do Hard Knockswhatsoever, so the expectation was that the positives would be focused on throughout the season. The final episode, typically dealing with cuts, instead focused on two undrafted rookie receivers and good friends Jason Brownlee and Xavier Gipson making the final roster for the Jets. The way head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas did it had to be nerve-wracking for the young men, but they were extremely happy and will take the result. It was cool to see the celebration throughout the facility and meeting rooms.
Worst moment: Tanzel Smart is cut
While we did not get any insight into the meetings when players were cut, veteran defensive lineman Tanzel Smart was gracious enough to talk to the Hard Knocks crew about his outlook after he didn’t make the Jets roster. Smart says he did everything he could and made it pretty clear he thought he should be on the 53, indicating he would go to a team that would take him on the roster. However, Smart did ultimately end up back with the Jets on the practice squad, and he seems to have come around in thinking it’s the best spot for him—and he appears to mesh very well with the locker room, so it’s a natural all-around fit despite the understandable disappointment.
Funniest moment: Aaron Rodgers’ UFO story
This is just something you must watch:
"Did we just see what we think we just saw?"
Aaron Rodgers details a UFO sighting 🛸
— NFL (@NFL) September 6, 2023
Not only was Rodgers go on for a few minutes about how he saw a UFO with his friend and former teammate Steve ahead of the 2005 NFL Draft, but he gave a glimpse into his curious, independent-minded outlook on life. Rodgers said he did his research on UFOs after the event, and he says that these types of events often happen near nuclear energy and volcanoes.
Underrated moment: Garrett Wilson is reminiscent of Michael Jackson
A bunch of Jets going to see MJ the Musical was a good team bonding activity, and it was funny to watch defensive lineman Solomon Thomas unsuccessfully attempt a moonwalk afterwards (though to be fair his shoes did him no favors). But an underrated moment came the next practice when they were thinking about the musical still, and veteran receiver Randall Cobb determined that Garrett Wilson reminds him of Michael Jackson. When you think about it, it makes sense; and the best part was when Cobb asked Rodgers about it, and Rodgers immediately said agreed with an emphatic “yes.”
Best quote: Quinnen Williams
“You only love me for what I can do for you.”
MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Again, this unusual season for Hard Knocks could’ve been bad, but Rodgers helped lead the charge in making it entertaining. A ton of riding on Rodgers’ shoulders in 2023 for the Jets.