The premiere of this season's "Hard Knocks" was a reminder of the show's range and power, but no one stood out quite like Cincinnati Bengals linebacker James Harrison. It was awesome to get a peek behind the curtain at one of the NFL's surliest players.
I wouldn't complain at all if the entire show, which aired its second episode Tuesday night on HBO, was built around Harrison, precisely because he seems to genuinely hate being on television so much.
"I don't feel they deserve to be here," Harrison told Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday. "They did nothing to be here, other than want to be here. They didn't put no blood, sweat and tears into none of this. All these men in here, they did that. They (the cameras) did nothing. No one deserves to see this, to come inside of this unless you're a part of this. That's why."
Harrison is wrong on this point. NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, his son Steve and countless others put in the work for decades to help promote the sport to where it is today. But Harrison's reluctance to embrace the show partly is why he's such a compelling figure. At one point during last week's episode, Harrison jumped in an unsuspecting car to avoid the cameras. Harrison isn't sure if the driver even knew who he was.
"It's kind of like this: Everybody knows I'm getting into the car with him. There's a bunch of cameras watching me get in the car. It wouldn't be too smart," Harrison said. "They've got his license plate and everything else. And plus, I think I can kind of handle myself. He's driving and I'm behind him, so I think I'd be all right."
It's unclear what that all means, but I read it as a warning to Cincinnati motorists this month: Be ready.