Monday, June 24, 2013

Tomlinson: Hard Knocks can affect team bonding


In 2010, running back LaDainian Tomlinson was just a 10-year veteran trying to extend his career in a new city.

Little did he know that his time during training camp would be under the watchful eye of a camera crew and weekly audience.

Tomlinson's move from San Diego to New York coincidentally synced up with the team's hosting of HBO's Hard Knocks series, which chronicled the team's every move throughout camp and into the final week of the preseason. (photo: Billtacular, Flickr)

His arrival and fit into the team's system was a semi-major story line of the program, along with the evolution of quarterback Mark Sanchez and cornerback Darrelle Revis's contract negotiations.

With HBO's recent announcement that the Cincinnati Bengals will be this year's focus for the Emmy award-winning series, the five-time Pro Bowler recently spoke about his experiences on the show, specifically the wedge it can create when trying to bond with other teammates.

"You always had to watch what you were saying and what you were doing because you don't know whether the camera is around or what it will capture," Tomlinson said, via Richard Deitsch of "There is a bit of hesitation at times to say things or do certain things. I felt at that point in training camp you are trying to build camaraderie and the chemistry of your team so it was weird to have cameras around to capture such moments."

While Tomlinson may have felt a little awkward at first, he and the team as a whole certainly didn't show any signs that the filming held them back. Gang Green went on to post an 11-5 record that season, making the playoffs as a wild card seed and eventually falling to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. 

The most memorable moments for Jets fans that preseason were likely coach Rex Ryan's profanity-filled speeches. Deitsch noted Tomlinson's observation that coaches "talked a little louder and enthusiastic" when on camera, a fact that seemed apropos in New York's case. No scene portrayed that better than Ryan's snack rant, which also heard the fired-up coach refer to his defense's performance while at Hofstra for training camp as "a jackass." 

Cincinnati's appearance will its second on the show since it began in 2001, with the first coming in 2009. The Bengals also made the playoffs the year they hosted the documentary, knocked off early on, however, by none other than, you guessed it, Ryan's Jets. 

The eighth season of Hard Knocks kicks off at 10 p.m. on Aug. 6 (EST), with episodes airing each Tuesday until the finale on Sept. 3.

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