Six teams meet the criteria to be forced onto Hard Knocks

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NFL teams rarely want to do Hard Knocks, the HBO reality TV show that gives an up-close (and too invasive, in the minds of most coaches) look at training camp. But the NFL views Hard Knocks as one of its key marketing tools heading into each season, and so league rules can compel a team to appear on the show if no team volunteers.

This year, six teams meet the criteria to be forced to do the show: Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, the L.A. Chargers, San Francisco and Washington.

The teams that have the right to refuse to do Hard Knocks are the teams that have already done the show once in the last 10 years, the teams that have a new head coach and the teams that have been to the playoffs in the last two years. Assuming there are no other head-coaching departures, 26 of the league’s 32 teams fit into at least one of those categories.

So Hard Knocks will have its choice of six storylines: Baltimore’s attempt to get back on top after three straight disappointing seasons? Cleveland’s attempt to turn around from the worst two-year stretch in NFL history? Denver’s likely quarterback competition? The No. 2 team in L.A. trying to get some attention? San Francisco and the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo? Washington with either a quarterback in Kirk Cousins who just broke the bank, or a new quarterback after Cousins has departed for greener pastures?

One of those storylines will likely be the focal point of Hard Knocks. We’ll see it in seven months.

45 responses to “Six teams meet the criteria to be forced onto Hard Knocks

  1. If somehow the Patriots miss the playoffs two years in a row, Bill Belichick will retire to avoid being picked for Hard Knocks.

    What about filming it at the league office and at owner’s meetings?

  2. It’ll be SF but it would be fun to see Cleveland if only to see how Hue tries to spin his career into anything positive to build on.

    “Hey guys we only lost 10 games by two scores or more! 6 of those we were in and 2 went to OT! We’re so close to winning a game for the first time since Obama was in office!”

  3. Should force the Browns to do it, then as the intro page to the show pops up as HARD KNOCKS, they should animate a rubber stamp, stamping “EST” to spell out HARDEST KNOCKS

  4. There should be a reality show that follows around Roger Goodell and his minions in the league office. Turn the tables. Plus, I’m interested to see what that buffoon does all day to earn his $45 million salary.

  5. As a Pats fan who has watched this team for over 50 years, I’d LOVE to see them do a Hard Knocks. Sure it would be a distraction. But after almost 2 decades of great play, who wouldn’t watch to see what the Pats do, year in and year out.

    I know Bill would hate it, but it would be, by FAR, the most watch installment of Hard Knocks ever. I rarely watch an episode of hard knocks, but I wouldn’t miss on of those, and neither would any other football….including the haters. It would be EPIC television.

  6. Go with Baltimore. No need for concern about giving anything away. They can fill 8 (1) hour episodes of just Harbaugh whining about start times, temps, wind, his Verizon bill, the lines at the Harris Teeter, the price of gas…

  7. It won’t be ‘Washington’. That brings up the whole Redskins thing. They might get a pass forever because of it.

    Won’t be Baltimore. Boring.

    Chargers are 2nd class citizens and trying to drum up interest will be the NFL’s ‘think tank’ choice.

    The Browns have too many issues. I can’t see the NFL wanting to be in the middle of that mess.

    The rest of us would like to see how the son of SB champion coach, QB guru, went from Ofer to be hottest team in football with 1 player making that difference. We want to see all the players putting in the work as an Ofer team and then it all pays off with a new QB. THAT”S what will sell best.

    The NFL truly is about that 1 player that makes or breaks the fine line. That’s why you’ll see 4 QB’s drafted in the top 10 and maybe 2 more slipping into the back end of round 1 or early round 2. Without a QB, it’s like playing with one arm tied behind your back.

  8. PS: I would think the NFL doesn’t want the Jimmy G story front and center because it PROVES that it’s all about the QB. The NFL will never have parity as long as 12 to 16 players rule the League and the NFL wants to make money on 32 teams (which it does) and not let the secret out that 16 don’t have a chance.

    See what the Jaguars do when Bortles plays like a top QB?

    I still say the Chargers because die Hard Knocks fans will watch, regardless. The NFL wants the big market LA to get interested in the Chargers.

  9. LA can’t even get interested in the Rams sadly. They had a great year but struggle to sell out still and the coliseum was overrun by red.

  10. Why not the Packers?

    Their ship is a flaming mess with coaches and management being fired left and right

    Not to mention their simple fanbase…wait…no…this airs on HBO not Comedy Central.

  11. patfanken says:

    As a Pats fan who has watched this team for over 50 years, I’d LOVE to see them do a Hard Knocks. Sure it would be a distraction. But after almost 2 decades of great play, who wouldn’t watch to see what the Pats do, year in and year out.

    I know Bill would hate it, but it would be, by FAR, the most watch installment of Hard Knocks ever.
    =================================================================

    They would never get the ratings the Cowboys get. There’s a reason they are worth almost twice as much as the Patriots.

  12. How about the Broncos? The fun-fest around Horseface Elway after the team only won 5 games. Von Miller feeding his chickens. Coach Vance Joseph on the hotseat. Papa John and Peyton Manning popping in to share pizza with the boys.

  13. Who cares about Hard Knocks? Does anybody even watch it? To force a team to be on it when nobody volunteers is just another NFL blunder that needs to go away.

  14. You have to imagine SF as being the most likely.

    In the end, though, is it a good marketing tool? I’ve never actually seen an episode ever. Nor am I interested in it at all. Are there lots of people that watch it pretty religiously?

  15. Ravens! I want to see Harbaugh yell and throw sandwiches at an underperforming tackling dummy for ten minutes.

  16. NFL may force Denver in to it since they have the highest win rate in NFL history. Denver is usually never in this place to be chosen for Hard Knocks. A unique opportunity to glance in to one of the most prestigious franchises and learn about the winning culture.

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