Until then, it's impossible to quote Ryan directly without liberal use of the grawlix, a word coined by Beetle Bailey cartoonist Mort Walker for that string of punctuation marks that represent cartoon cursing. Suffice to say that Ryan—a body double of Sarge from Beetle Bailey—uttered a @#$%! every 8.8 seconds in the opening moments of Hard Knocks.
Viewers who withstood his blue streak witnessed a small work of genius. The closing credits of Hard Knocks pay homage to The Sopranos: A camera rolls along the New Jersey Turnpike, lingering on highway signs and planes taking off from Newark. But what HBO really has here is a series that viewers—profane sports-addled guys, mostly—can watch as a celebration of themselves. It's not The Sopranos, but something happier. It's Rex and the City.
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Steve Rushin's column, Rushin Lit, appears every Wednesday at SI.com