Throughout the five weeks of Hard Knocks Los Angeles, team reporter Sarina Morales will bring you her top 3 moments from Hard Knocks The After Show and share a few clips you may have missed. Sarina was joined by the voice of the Rams J.B. Long, former pro bowl safety and ESPN NFL Analyst Ryan Clark and comedian Taran Killam. In what ended up being a very candid and powerful conversation around social injustice, Head Coach Sean McVay joined for the last fifteen minutes of The After Show to share his thoughts on how the team is handling the ongoing problem of systemic racism. Hard Knocks The After Show streams live at 8pm PST on TheRams.com each Tuesday, immediately following Hard Knocks.
1: Ryan Clark watching Sean McVay react to Jacob Blake's shooting gives him hope.
"I saw someone who didn't look like me, have empathy for someone that does look like me." Ryan Clark has known Head Coach Sean McVay for years. In 2014, Clark played his final NFL season with McVay in Washington. That same year was McVay's first season as Offensive Coordinator. The recent killings of black people in the U.S. has impacted professional sports teams. Ryan Clark has shared his thoughts, his wisdom and his heart a LOT recently. He feels exhausted. "It was a feeling of disappointment. A feeling of sadness, which quickly turns to a feeling of anger." He said, "It was a new video. It was a new shooting. But, [I felt] like I had seen it so many times. [I felt] like I had cried over it so many times. [I felt] I had explained it so many times. I've talked to different people about what that particular shooting made me feel so many times, but it had just happened." People of color are exhausted from seeing their people shot down again and again and again. And yet, despite this ongoing trauma, Clark said, seeing Sean McVay's genuine disgust for the shooting of Jacob Blake gave him hope.
2: Sean McVay says his focus is on listening and learning
While there were a number of different topics covered during Episode 4 of Hard Knocks Los Angeles, the most powerful content was covered during the last 20 minutes. The shooting of Jacob Blake impacted both LA football teams. Sean McVay joined the latter half of the live After Show to discuss how he has managed coaching at this time. He said "It's an ongoing thing. This isn't something new. There is just a heightened awareness on it." And as the head coach of a team that is made up of predominantly black players, he knows right now, "This is about listening and learning more than anything." Which is why McVay turned to his leadership council after watching the shooting of Jacob Blake. "This is way bigger than football." But the key for him is "having actions that are in alignment with moving the needle in the right direction."
3: Sean McVay is forever grateful for Ryan Clark
And so am I. The best part of the night was at the very end of Hard Knocks The After Show. McVay shared a story of a time when Clark helped him during his first year as a coordinator. "This guy means so much to me." McVay recalled it was a 4-12 season. "One of the most impactful things that happened to me that year was a veteran, pro bowl-experienced player coming into my office, feeling that I was in a tough spot, and giving me some encouragement that helped me really sustain." Which is the kind of thing we want to see from fans, players and coaches when it comes to important issues, such as systemic racism, outside of football. While this episode had a more somber tone than past episodes, this was a positive ending to what is a "to be continued" story.
J.B. Long said this was the best episode of Hard Knocks this season and I think the same can be said about Hard Knocks The After Show. If you missed this week's episode, you can watch Episode 4 below. Until then, see you Tuesday night for the final episode of Hard Knocks Los Angeles.