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Rich CiminiESPN Staff WriterAug 8, 2023, 09:00 AM ET4 Minute Read

Al Pereira/Getty Images

The 2010 New York Jets were brash and colorful. They were unapologetic and provocative. They won a lot of games and ticked off a lot of people with their “swaggerlicious” attitude, as linebacker Bart Scott liked to call it. They were perfect for reality TV.

Thanks to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series, the world got a chance to see them behind the scenes in training camp. The current Jets, featured on the show this summer, will have a hard time living up to their loud and proud predecessors.

“The 2010 Jets changed the profile and the success of ‘Hard Knocks’ forever,'” said Patrick Kelleher, the executive producer of NFL Films. It was the most-watched season in the history of the show. That team had plenty of star power, as it included future Pro Football Hall of Famers Darrelle Revis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor, former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes and a charismatic young quarterback in Mark Sanchez.

It also had larger-than-life coach Rex Ryan, known for his supreme confidence and salty vocabulary. The ’10 Jets provided some of the most memorable moments in the 17-year history of the series.

The ‘snack’ speech

No doubt, this was the signature moment. On the eve of a preseason game, the usually upbeat Ryan — upset with his team’s performance and practice habits — delivered a classic rant.

Backstory: The previous day, the Jets had traveled from New Jersey to Long Island to practice at their former home base, Hofstra University. The field was next to a McDonald’s, it was around dinnertime and, next thing you know, a bunch of players on defense were eating cheeseburgers during the pre-practice stretch. They responded with a sloppy practice. Gee, wonder why.

This infuriated Ryan, who brought it up the next night at the team hotel. He unleashed an expletive-laced tirade that culminated with the now-famous line, “Let’s go eat a god damn snack!”

It’s routine for a team to have a light snack prepared for the players on the eve of a game. What made this so funny was that it came from the portly Ryan, who said it with a straight face. It was a drop-the-mic moment, as he walked out of the room amid stunned silence. The Jets didn’t have many sloppy days that season. They went 11-5 and won two road playoff games before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC championship.

The Revis saga

Revis’ contentious contract holdout was one of the NFL’s big stories of the summer, and it made for a fascinating subplot in “Hard Knocks.”

Read more: ‘Revis Island’ resonates long after Hall of Famer’s retirement

In Episode 1, general manager Mike Tannenbaum met Revis’ agents for a clandestine negotiating session at a diner in Roscoe, New York, a small town about 90 minutes from the Jets’ summer training base in upstate Cortland. Viewers got a backseat view of Tannenbaum discussing the contract situation with assistant Ari Nissim on the car ride to and from Roscoe, with the GM sounding glum about their chances of resolving the matter. This part wasn’t aired, but the agents objected to the presence of cameras. As a result, there were no shots from inside the diner.

In another episode, Ryan — disgusted that his best player wasn’t in camp — screamed at the agents through a speakerphone. The series also revealed that, late in the preseason, Ryan and owner Woody Johnson made a secret trip to Florida for another face-to-face negotiating session.

The Revis drama provided a newsworthy thread through the series, culminating with a storybook ending. He agreed to a new contract a few days before the opener and, in the final scene, he was greeted with a “Rudy” clap as he joined his teammates on the practice field. Revis went on to make first-team All-Pro for the second straight year. Two years later, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Shake weights

Talk about bizarre and comical.

Thanks to punter Steve Weatherford, a fitness fanatic, the Jets received a delivery of 100 shake weights to training camp. Not familiar with them? Basically, shake weights are modified dumbbells that oscillate, increasing the effects of exercise.

So, imagine 90 players and some coaches using the weights on the practice field during warmups. To say they had a lot of fun with it would be an understatement. A handful of players have said this was their favorite memory from “Hard Knocks.”

Cromartie’s kids

This one sparked a bit of controversy.

In one episode, the producers tried to illustrate the on- and off-the-field personas of cornerback Antonio Cromartie. In a discussion about the importance of family, he named his eight children, but it took him 40 seconds to mention them all. As a result, he was mocked on social media for taking so long.

An upset Cromartie fired back, telling the New York Post that the director made him reshoot the scene because they wanted him to pause between each name. HBO countered by saying it was shot in one take.

This wasn’t the only controversy from the series; there also was Ryan’s mouth. After the first episode, he shared that his mother didn’t care for all the cursing. He also received criticism from former coach Tony Dungy, who suggested that commissioner Roger Goodell should get involved.

Asked if the NFL would look into it, a league spokesman said at the time, “No — Rex’s mother delivered the message.”

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