HBO 'Hard Knocks' 2021: Best Colts Storylines, Moments, Reaction for Episode 5

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 31: A Indianapolis Colts helmet sits on the sidelines during the NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts on October 31, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

"It's not a vacation, it's a bye."

That was the message from Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich during Wednesday's episode of Hard Knocks in Season: The Indianapolis Colts. While the team was on a bye for this week's shortened episode, the preparation for a December playoff run took center stage.

Whether it was Reich telling the players he believed they are the best team in the AFC or the stark reminder that the only team photos gracing the wall of the Colts' practice facility are the ones of squads that make the postseason, it was clear what time of year it was in Indianapolis.


Frank Reich channels <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeTyson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MikeTyson</a> to keep things in perspective.<br><br>New episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a>: In Season with the <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> tonight at 10pm ET on HBO/HBO Max <a href="https://t.co/y4ZzGcg4Ak">pic.twitter.com/y4ZzGcg4Ak</a>

After all, the Colts are in the middle of the playoff picture thanks to a 7-3 run in their previous 10 games following an 0-3 start. 

They are coming off a dominant 31-0 victory over the Houston Texans and look the part of a contender with their only loss in the last five games coming in heartbreaking fashion during a seven-point defeat to the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It wasn't all about football, though, since there was some notable news off the field.

Cornerback Kenny Moore II was named the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, and he was notified of the recognition by his mother during a touching moment.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

A proud moment 😌<br><br>Congrats <a href="https://twitter.com/KennyKennyMoe3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KennyKennyMoe3</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WPMOYChallenge?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WPMOYChallenge</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/EI7HJiGUNG">pic.twitter.com/EI7HJiGUNG</a>

A previous episode of Hard Knocks delved into the time Moore met Mason Garvey, who was a child with Stage 4 cancer. The two became close before Garvey died in 2020, but Moore remains friends with the family and even spent Thanksgiving with them this year.

He has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support pediatric palliative care through the Mighty Mason Fund. He also recognized the fund with his My Cause, My Cleats choice and has supported a number of charitable causes during his time in Indianapolis.

Moore has also helped raise money for the Tyler Trent Foundation to support cancer research and has supported the team's "Kicking the Stigma" initiative to raise awareness for the importance of taking mental health seriously.

Mental health was in the spotlight during Wednesday's episode.

Linebacker Darius Leonard opened up about the loss of his brother, and members of the Irsay family explained the importance of the "Kicking the Stigma" movement that aims to remove the stigma that is far too often associated with mental health struggles.


"I realized that I needed to change my life."<a href="https://twitter.com/dsleon45?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dsleon45</a> talks through how he prioritized his mental health after losing his brother ❀️<br><br>New episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a>: In Season with the <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> tomorrow at 10pm ET on HBO/HBO Max <a href="https://t.co/d94ACpAakP">pic.twitter.com/d94ACpAakP</a>

NFL Films @NFLFilms

The <a href="https://twitter.com/Colts?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Colts</a> are leading the fight for mental health awareness. πŸ’ͺ<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/G1C43aiCnf">pic.twitter.com/G1C43aiCnf</a>

The Irsay family practiced what they preached and closed the team facilities for more than just the players during the bye week. In fact, there was a 72-hour break for every employee of the team to travel and get away, which meant embracing the love of music for owner Jim Irsay and buying his old middle school breakfast for linebacker Zaire Franklin.

Elsewhere, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner visited Disney World with his family, while offensive lineman Braden Smith did a photo shoot with his wife Courtney, who is a wedding photographer.

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Correct answer, <a href="https://twitter.com/BradenSmith72?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BradenSmith72</a> πŸ˜…<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/ukB8GZDVl1">pic.twitter.com/ukB8GZDVl1</a>

NFL Films @NFLFilms

Bye for now πŸ‘‹<br><br>See you next week on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/NjAyCrZ320">pic.twitter.com/NjAyCrZ320</a>

Eventually there will be a return to football for the final four games of the regular season.

Indianapolis closes with the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars. It is one of five teams at 7-6 in an AFC wild-card race that also includes the 6-6-1 Pittsburgh Steelers and two 6-7 teams.

One loss could send the Colts plummeting down the standings, but sustained winning will do the exact opposite.

Good thing the players will be fresh for that postseason pursuit after the bye.