Thursday morning, we celebrated Antonio Cromartie's transcendent Hard Knocks interview with characteristic gusto. Everyone did. A pro athlete furrowing his brow, struggling to list each of his kids by name on a reality show? It was one of those perfect, organic moments of ridiculousness that only sports could give us.
Except... Cromartie tells the New York Post that there are deep, dark forces out there, playing with our reality. And they're all wearing goofy NFL Films polos and holding boom mics:
But Cromartie pulled back the curtains on the Emmy-winning series yesterday by telling The Post the scene that has earned him so much ridicule was a second take ordered by the director.
Asked if he had as much trouble listing the names as the scene appeared to show, Cromartie told The Post: "Nah, I didn’t have trouble. I mean, they asked me to pause. I had nailed it the one time before, but they had to redo it and they just told me to pause between each one of [the names]."
I feel so betrayed.
Hard Knocks isn't actually a real and uncensored look at training camp and the lives of NFL players? Is Rex Ryan just some actor wearing a fat suit and reading a script full of f-bombs? No, says HBO spokesman Ray Stallone, the whole movie's not a dream:
"I spoke to the director and everyone involved, and this scene was done in one take," Stallone said.
Stallone also forcefully insisted that, despite Cromartie’s comments, nothing about "Hard Knocks" is staged.
Who do we believe?
Well, if Cromartie's telling the truth, we shouldn't be surprised. All "reality" shows have production teams that try to goad their characters into saying and doing ridiculous things.
So what does this change? All of our snarky comments now seem like cheapshots and the whole Hard Knocks concept becomes a little less awesome (but only a little). Plus: What does it say about us that HBO producers knew everyone would just LOVE tearing this guy to shreds?
What doesn't change? Cromartie's still got EIGHT kids, four of which were born within like a year of each other. He's been hit with five paternity suits in the past two years. It may have been unfair to make Cromartie the butt of the joke here, but he's still hilarious. And the HBO producers couldn't have staged the part at 35-second mark where he mentions, almost disappointed, "Tyler", the one kid with a semi-conventional name.
So don't worry: It's still okay to laugh at all this. If anything, the back-and-forth debate about the reality of the reality show, taken from a New York Post story, just makes it even more surreal--a perfect sign of where we are with sports and entertainment in 2010. And if this explanation was all dreamed up out of thin air by Cromartie's publicist? Well... Don't bet against it. It's 2010, after all.