HBO is certainly getting themselves a star-studded cast for this season of "Hard Knocks." The question is whether it will be a precursor to a run at the Super Bowl or a sequel to "Oz," the prison show that used to be a staple of the network's offerings.
The latter is a better option after the Jets struck a surprising deal with the Steelers for wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Holmes was the MVP of the Super Bowl XLIII and had 1,248 yards during the 2009, but his repeated legal issues and fondness for marijuana led the Steelers to give him away for a fifth-round draft pick at the age of 26.
When a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. The trade for Holmes is no exception. Holmes has been suspended for four games during the 2010 season as a result of violating the league's substance abuse policy, and he's also still dealing with legal fallout from being accused of battery at a nightclub in Orlando. Given his past legal snafus, Holmes could have other punishment coming his way if that case winds up going against him.
That explains the bargain price while Holmes's talent explains the reason the Jets took the risk. They've bought a top-flight receiver at the price of a special teamer, in hopes that damaged goods can be repaired with new surroundings. It's the same risk the Patriots took with Randy Moss a few years ago, a risk that has paid off handsomely for Bill Belichick and company. You have to like the aggressiveness and the nose for bargain basement deals, but the sheer number of risks does give reason for pause.
Braylon Edwards also faces a possible suspension in the coming season, Antonio Cromartie left behind a litany of child support and other cases in San Diego and now Holmes comes along to trump both of them. Pacman Jones is still a free agent, though there's no sign they've made any contact with him just yet. They've also added LaDainian Tomlinson, who burnt every bridge he used in getting here from California, and may be adding fellow graybeard Jason Taylor as they try to load up a roster fit for both a hit TV show and a championship.
If it works out, they may well get that ring that's eluded them since Joe Namath made his guarantee. The downside is that we could be looking at the football version of the early 90's Mets squads that earned the moniker "The Worst Team Money Could Buy," for their mix of big names, awful records and shameful behavior.
We'll find out soon enough which route they're on, but we can already be sure that it won't be a boring ride.