Most teams will be exempt from Hard Knocks requirement


When we wrote this morning about different coaches’ opinions on being forced to allow the Hard Knocks cameras into their training camps, some members of PFT Planet commented that there are so many exemptions to the rule compelling teams to appear on Hard Knocks that some years, there might not be any teams that can be forced to do it.

It’s highly unlikely that there will ever be a season in which every single team is exempt from being required to do Hard Knocks, but theoretically, it is possible for all 32 teams to meet one of the three exemptions. The exemptions are:
1. Teams that have appeared on Hard Knocks in the last 10 years.
2. Teams with new head coaches.
3. Teams that have made the playoffs in either of the last two years.

This year, the only teams that hadn’t done Hard Knocks, didn’t have new head coaches and hadn’t been in the playoffs either of the last two years were the Panthers, Buccaneers, Rams, Titans and Raiders. So if the Bengals hadn’t volunteered, one of those five teams would have been forced to do it. (The five teams that have appeared on Hard Knocks since it re-started in 2007 after a three-year hiatus are the Chiefs, Cowboys, Bengals, Jets and Dolphins.)

Looking ahead to next year, we already know that in addition to the teams that have already been on Hard Knocks, the 2012 playoff teams (Washington, Green Bay, San Francisco, Seattle, Minnesota, Atlanta, New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis and Denver) are exempt. So half the league knows right now it can’t be forced to do Hard Knocks next year.

Add to that list all the teams that make the playoffs this year. A lot of this year’s playoff teams will be the same as last year, or will be among the five teams that have already been on Hard Knocks, but we could easily see the Saints win the NFC South, the Eagles win the NFC East, the Bears win the NFC North and the Lions, Cardinals or Titans get a wild card berth to add themselves to the Hard Knocks exemption list by making the playoffs.

That would leave only 10 teams: The Bills, Browns, Steelers, Jaguars, Chargers, Raiders, Giants, Panthers, Buccaneers and Rams. And at least a few of those teams are likely to have new coaches next season.

So there won’t be many options for the NFL if it decides to force some team to appear on Hard Knocks. The league office and HBO will still be hoping that a team with compelling storylines volunteers.

26 responses to “Most teams will be exempt from Hard Knocks requirement

  1. Too bad the Vikings are exempt, it would be a compelling story just to see how their coaching staff evaluates the Qb position. There is no evidence that they use common sense, football talent or throwing accuracy so we would be curious to see how they do it.

  2. Not to read too much into it, but you can easily see thr Bears winninh NFC North and the Lions getting a wild card? So, by extrapolation you can easily see the Packers missing the playoffs all together? Ok then.

  3. No chance the Rooneys or the Maras will be forced on the show. Nor the Comp committee chairman Jeff Fishcer’s team. Nor HOF’r owned Buffalo Bills (Wilson).

    Raiders, Panthers, Bucs and Jags with new coaches. Browns still in owner litigation and after all of that we are left with the Chargers.

    So, my eduamacated guess is the San Diego Chargers will be on next year if no one volunteers.

  4. John Mara would “hire” a new coach at hard knocks selection time and then rehire coughlin back to avoid the show. He did say that you’ll see him in a grave next to Wellington before you saw the giants on hard knocks

  5. In the off-season I heard the Chargers were interested in doing it. It brings a lot of publicity and money and they were all about it. Maybe they volunteer.

  6. Why is there no chance the Rooneys or the Maras will be forced on the show (unless the Giants move on from old man Coughlin, of course, which would make them excempt)? There are way more Steeler and Giants fans out there than fans of the Panthers, Bucs, Jags, etc. so you’d think that league officials and HBO network execs would be drooling over the possibility of having a team with a huge fan base like the Steelers or Giants, since the ratings should be through the roof.

  7. The Niners should do it this year. A new stadium, a possible deep playoff run, and an appearance on hard knocks would really be a lot of positive pr. I totally understand why teams don’t wanna be on the show tho.

  8. I could see Emperor Goodell fining players and coaches for not “actively” participating in the forced filming of the show. The greed of the NFL knows no bounds. They bring in billions, pay NO taxes, and force taxpayers to build their lavish work palaces.

  9. Requiring one team to have most of their training camp filmed for the rest of the league to see doesn’t seem fair if they do not volunteer.

    What makes it worse is that of the small pool of teams that are not exempt, one gets “chosen” arbitrarily by the league since there are no guidelines once you get past the exemptions.

  10. Harbaugh was just trolling. He was fully aware of what the league said the day earlier. Everyone of the local beat writers expected him to be against it. He dropped the criteria line. 49ers under Harbaalke will never be on Hard Knocks.

    Personally as a fan I’d love to see them there, but I know it’s best for the team not to.

  11. freevinnycurry says:
    Oct 10, 2013 12:45 PM

    I hope the Eagles never do this. I can’t imagine what Jackson and McCoy would say on camera.


    I was thinking the same thing about Arian Foster. When the cameras are rolling he just says the dumbest crap, but it’s under the guise of quirkiness or eccentricity. No, sometimes it’s just stupid.

  12. They should add:

    #4 Teams who are scheduled to play in London that season. Doesn’t seem fair to pick on the same organization twice.

  13. I think they should pick the Steelers. They obviously won’t be making the playoffs this year and it will be entertaining to see how big Tomlin’s eyes can bulge before they pop out and fire like projectile missiles.

  14. So the “playoffs in the last two years exemption” tells me the league considers Hardknocks to be a punishment.

  15. Oh man, under those exemptions it’s definitely gonna be either the Raiders or Jags. And frankly who wants to see that.

  16. bucsfan5000 says: Oct 10, 2013 1:25 PM

    They should film Hard Knocks at the league office. We could watch Goodell tell player’s he’s fining or suspending them.
    Someone said on Sirius NFL Radio that the owners meeting should be filmed. Let them get a taste on it before forcing it down some coach’s throat. That would be amusing. Let’s start by rolling the cameras when Snyder meets with the Redskins name change proponents.

  17. They should just use these two rules for exemptions, and then let the fans vote on the remaining teams:
    1. Teams that have appeared on Hard Knocks in the last 10 years.
    2. Teams with new head coaches.

    The “playoffs” exemption sounds like favoritism to me.

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