Eight teams can be forced to do Hard Knocks

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With the NFL making a clear commitment to the preseason HBO series Hard Knocks, the league needs to be sure that a constant flow of participating teams will be available.

Last year, the league decided to reserve the right to force an unwilling team to accept the assignment.

But the “thou shalt” possibility comes with some caveats.  Teams that have made the playoffs in the last two years, teams with new coaches, and teams that have been on Hard Knocks within the last decade are exempt.

Via Barry Petchesky of Deadspin, that leaves the powers-that-be with the power to compel only one of eight teams in 2014:  the Bears, Bills, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Raiders, Rams, and Steelers.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians already has said he would fight “tooth and nail” an involuntary assignment to do Hard Knocks.  But it may not come to that, for the Cardinals or any of the other seven teams.

The 24 exempt teams can still choose to do the show, and typically there’s a franchise that craves the national exposure that comes from being on Hard Knocks.  Some also believe that the experience helps players deal with distractions.

The most intriguing possible team at this point is the Vikings, whose new head coach has very recent experience with Hard Knocks; Mike Zimmer served as defensive coordinator of the 2013 Bengals.

Either way, someone will do it, whether they want to or not.  It’s highly unlikely that the team that gets the gig will being doing so against its will.

Of course, that would only make the ultimate reality show’s official reality show even more compelling.

49 responses to “Eight teams can be forced to do Hard Knocks

  1. Mike Tomlin and the Steelers would be the most interesting to a large segment of the HK viewers. Big-time franchise with an extremely compelling Head Coach.

    I do NOT find the Vikes of 2014 very intriguing. Maybe in the late ’90s, but not now.

  2. Cardinals all day. That’s the team everybody wants to see the most, and thanks to Bruce Arians. Ironically his being the most outspoken against it is what could seal the deal for him to get it. He was up there pretty high for coach of the year honors, let’s take a closer look and see what he is really all about. We need to know if he’s the real deal.

    But I’d still prefer if my Lions would volunteer for this. I know they won’t, but there’s still a reason to hope that we can develop some confidence and courage in the future. Look out when that happens. We’re just not ready for the glory and the attention.

  3. John Mara said the Giants would be on Hard Knocks over his dead body so he’d force Coughlin into retirement in order to be exempt.

    Jeff Fisher would find a way out of it with him being on the competition committee.

    I can’t see the Rooneys or Ralph Wilson going through this.

  4. Forcing teams to do the show is exactly the kind of things that is wrong with the NFL. They cater to the media rather than the teams.

  5. Carson Palmer had some pretty decent sound bites last time he did the show. Cardinals seem like a good choice. Do half a show on Carson Palmer quitting on the Bengals, and then you have the interesting Mathieu looking like he was a draft steal. You know those HBO guys love dudes with troubled pasts.

  6. as a lifetime football participant as a coach,player and fan i find the whole concept of this show ridiculous and far from entertainment or football educational in anyway. and wouldn’t watch it again under ant circumstances

  7. I’m a quasi Bills fan by association with connections to lots of people in Buffalo, but they would be a terrible idea. As would the Raiders and Jags. No one would watch. 2 playoff appearances and 0 playoff wins between the 3 of them in the last 11 years.

  8. How about the Panthers?

    -The polarizing QB.

    -The best middle linebacker in the world.

    -The clinically insane DE that called a kicker “small and weird-shaped” and tweeted a pic of his Bentley’s spedometer, which read 105 mph.

    -The head coach that has made gambling cool, even in the Bible Belt.

    -The WR that was asked at training camp last year was he desperate at age 34 to win a ring, and he replied, “let’s put it this way: if I was a 34-year-old single woman, I’d do every man I could find trying to get a husband,” and who later in the year would tell an opposing DB to “ice up, son.”

  9. Let’s watch the rebuilding Raiders now that they’ve got some cap flexibility and stability within the organization. Plus, how great will it be to watch Bucky Larson, I mean Mark Davis, up close on a weekly basis?

  10. We all know the NFL will not force teams they favor (Steelers, Giants) into doing the show. Just please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t make it the Raiders.

  11. Have never watched an episode and think it sucks that a team could be forced to do it. A team shouldn’t be forced into it if they feel it is detrimental to their season. I guess I feel the same way about the London games.

  12. Raiders and Bills would both be a terrible decision. Oakland has had 2 .500 seasons and 9 losing seasons since they made the Super bowl in 2002. The Bills have had 9 straight losing seasons- with just 2 .500 seasons and 1 (barely) over .500 season a 9-7 since they last made the playoffs in 1999- LAST CENTURY.

    Look, I think the Bills and Raiders both have great fans, especially considering their struggles. And I think their fans deserve to see their team do well. And I look at guys like Fred Jackson and Darren McFadden and want for them to finally see their teams succeeed. But neither are there yet. The Raiders are still lost and an organization in shambles. The Bills look to be on the rise- but how many times have we said that in the last 10 years and seen it go absolutely nowhere?

  13. I don’t want my Bears anywhere near that train wreck. Wonder if we can fire a ST coach and be exempt for another season?

  14. The most interesting would be the Washington Redskins….but as a Redskins fan, I don’t the team to do it.

    Seattle might be entertaining just with Sherman’s big mouth alone.

  15. A team with less cohesion and more uncertainty at player positions would make for better tv.

    Which normally means a less-recently-successful team.

  16. You all are not thinking this through… ANY Team doing it will be watched by millions. When the Dolphins were selected the overwhelming majority said “Boo, I’m not going to watch”… Yet it was the all time leader in Show ratings. This is a monster money maker for NFL and HBO, it will happen regardless and you WILL watch because you’re a fan. Case Closed. Now having said all that, it would be nice if it were the Steelers or Giants.

  17. Hopefully they stay away from the Bears and Cardinals. Good on-field story lines, but not NEARLY enough dysfunction for good TV.

    Let’s all throw the scent off these two teams.

  18. I like the show because its entertaining and you get to see the players as people…not the Jerks they act like on game day or during the season (yes, including my Broncos). Its also the closest some of are able to get to watching a training camp.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing the Raiders on it.

  19. The obvious choices out of the 8 teams are the Bears, Giants, and Steelers. Either of those three would provide high ratings due to their large fan bases.

  20. we we all know there is only one nation, and all others are wannabees. I had a great laugh while i was skiing in tahoe yesterday when the lift operator made a comment about my raiders lanyard, and he said Steeler Nation……that sounds almost as stupid as BSPN’s Red Sox nation or other idiotic nation. The original, and the only, “Raider Nation”, plain and simple

  21. I’d like to see the Texans. New coach and new QB. Some very good players, yet coming off an awful year when many thought they would make the playoffs (and most go deep into it). I seriously doubt the owner would put his hat in the ring though (since we can’t be forced to do it).

  22. A team likely will volunteer, but if they force a team to do it, I think they could come up with a number of small things to make filming it annoying for HBO.

    I for one would have any cuts or coaches meetings take place in a room lined TV’s showing Showtime and Starz content.

  23. The Steelers as a “Hard Knocks” subject would be somewhat invalid, considering Tomlin makes no rash decisions during the preseason.
    He likes to wait until about a month into the regular season before putting together a semifinal roster. Heads: Redman goes; tails: Dwyer stays. No, wait. Heads: Redman stays; tails: Dwyer goes…
    Waiting until the end of September enables him to spend more time vacationing with the family during the summer months…

  24. Raiders would be a good fit for the show if our head coach wasn’t such a frinkin robot. I have to hear this idiot on the radio once a week and that’s one times too many.

    That and our GM can’t speak English.

  25. Maybe if the Bills do it we will make the playoffs. I’m willing to try anything at this point. Give them Flintstones vitamins or anything that may give them some sort luck or something to make the playoffs.

  26. “Imagine of they do the Bills, they’ll have to profile their awesome punter.”

    Yeah they don’t have 3 defensive linemen in the Pro-Bowl, including Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, two top-3 draft picks.

    Or the first-round QB. Or Stevie Johnson.

    Or one of the best RB duos in the league.

    Or one of the best secondaries.

    Or a young rookie MLB, who has drawn comparisons to Chuck Norris. (Lol)

    Doug Marrone is a character, as well.

    This might actually be the most entertaining team to do it…knowing these guys like I do from camp last year, people would enjoy watching them. I promise. They are some characters with their dunk-ball competitions and everything else. Plus nobody does training camp like we do.

  27. I’m usually vehemently opposed to the Steelers participating in anything outside their normal routine, whether it’s a trip to London or the televising of training camp. Don’t distract the team.

    However …

    This year I’d like to see what’s happening behind the scenes as the Steelers continue their mission to get back on track. I’d be even happier if they could film an episode of “Hard Knocks: Steelers Prepping for the Draft.” But camp is good. Let pry off the lid and get a better look at this thing. What do you say, Mr. Rooney?

  28. Again, nobody cares whether these teams have been good or not…it is strictly about entertainment and quality characters am who make us come back every week to see the antics, or to root for them to make the team…and I am telling you, this Bills team is loaded with guys who people would individually relate to and like.

    It could go a long ways in helping to expand their market…I bet they volunteer.

    And if they do, I would bet anything that people enjoy watching it. I’m not saying you’ll like the Bills or start rooting for them, I’m not that stupid…but you will enjoy learning about some of these guys.

    Everyone will love Fred Jackson.

  29. A team like the Bills would be a fascinating option. It would give fans a chance to peek behind the curtain of an organization who is mired in a decade and a half of futility. Perhaps show the differences between players and coaches who can’t make the climb up that mountain vs. the ones who do. Yes, Hard Knocks should feature some losing teams. The idea is to show what life in a training camp is like. If you only show winning teams, you are not showing the entire spectrum of the NFL. And there is always the possibility of a surprise “happy ending”, that a team with a losing record the year before can make the transition into a winning team.

  30. What I’d like to know is…or what? What would the penalty be for refusing to be filmed? Fines? Loss of draft picks? The Giants or Steelers would probably eat heavy fines just to avoid it and I can’t even imagine the PR disaster/outrage a loss of draft picks would cause

  31. It would be interesting to watch a team flush itself into the sewer, so maybe the Steelers would be a good choice.

  32. I think the Jaguars would be a good pick. The owner wants to build the brand and Gus Bradley is quite entertaining. They get a top QB prospect with there first pick it could be a really good show.

  33. As a Jags fan, I hope we volunteer for it. The comments on this site alone tell you all you need to know about our need for national exposure. Gus Bradley is an electric personality and there are good young players on this team that football fans would enjoy getting to know (Cyprien comes to mind). Add the 3rd overall pick to the mix and you’ve got plenty of good storylines.

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