This season’s Hard Knocks finale was like watching the end of NBC’s Friday Night Lights—but if Eric and Tami Taylor got a divorce instead of moving to Philadelphia together.

Consider this a complement to HBO. For the first few episodes, it managed to establish characters as quirky and lovable as the ones drafted by fiction writers nabbing ideas out of thin air. It was a renaissance season for the documentary program—a gem from both a storytelling perspective and public relations perspective in Cleveland. Let’s not forget how wide open their doors were, and how bare they laid themselves at a strange but exciting time in franchise history (a reminder: It’s not like this during most Hard Knocks seasons).

The only issue, of course, was that the final episode had to bring us back to reality. There is no misty Hollywood ending. Gone is fridge-stocking fourth-string quarterback Brogan Roback. Gone is suspect financial advisor and potential fringe news site subscriber Carl Nassib. Gone is crystal enthusiast and aspiring weed dispensary manager Devon Cajuste.

Thank God we still have Bob Wylie.

Leave it to the NFL’s business side to drive you to your physical limits of hope and joy only to snap you back into cynicism like a rubber band. Here’s what we learned in the finale:

For all the fun we had at Cleveland’s expense, they seem like a fun team to play for. Watching Hue Jackson cut his players was a master class in handling difficult situations. Check out any other Hard Knocks when players are getting axed or traded. It can get prettydamnawkward.

On that same note: Packers import Eliot Wolf was probably the least menacing cut-down day summoner. A welcome change from the typical mid-60s henchman-looking archetype.

Todd Haley and Gregg Williams need their own spinoff if they don’t end their Browns tenure in a sideline fistfight. The comedic timing of Haley, mixed with Williams’s wild-eyed unpredictability would one-up the current gold standard in ideologically mixed buddy cop partners.

TheMychal Kendricks situation was handled, sort of. It’s hard not to love the way a story is subtly told throughout an NFL facility with people finding out about stuff on TV just like we would. The news of Kendricks’s bout of insider trading hit the Browns’ facility in waves, with Jackson and general manager John Dorsey watching a local station together. Haley gives the money line before opening credits: “Is he going to jail?”

Notice the relative calm after yet another Earth-throttling controversy hits this locker room. One thing you must love about this Browns staff: They handle insane, unforeseen developments like you and I handle a night out with too much brown liquor. Our former first-round pick washed out and asked to be traded? Our defensive coordinator seems to spend each practice plotting a way to take out our starting quarterback? Our coaching staff varies wildly in our approach to handling injuries? Our linebacker just admitted to a federal, white-collar crime? Whatever man. Let’s go get some breakfast.

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There’s a damn good chance Davis Webb gets the tabloid back page treatment in New York Wednesday. Here’s hoping they went with “The Tangled Webbs We Weave.”

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