Nine years ago, former Ravens coach Brian Billick made it clear that the teams submitting to Hard Knocks have final say over all content that makes its way to HBO. That sense has softened a bit in recent years, mainly because no head coach has reiterated it. On Tuesday night, former Browns coach Hue Jackson did.
“I had to watch it,” Jackson told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio in response to the question of whether Jackson watched the show when the Browns were the subject of it. “The head coaches have to look at it. They have to see it to OK the content.”
This means that Jackson watched last year’s first episode, which included an awkward exchange between Jackson and former Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and that Jackson approved the inclusion of that stunning and revealing (not in a good way) scene. Gelb asked Jackson whether he regretted the incident.
“Why would I regret saying what I feel as the head coach?” Jackson said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. . . . Sometimes with some people they push too far, so maybe you guys need to know there was a conversation — that same conversation before. That had already happened before, so to me to have it come back up again it made no sense.”
That’s fine, but why would Jackson approve the use of that scene if it lacked the context that Haley had previously argued against giving veteran players time off in training camp in order to avoid injury? It would have been very easy for Jackson to tell the producers that, without the benefit of realizing that Haley had brought the issue up in the past, Jackson’s decision to remind Haley who’s in charge would seem too heavy-handed.
Of course, that’s another reason why coaches shouldn’t want their teams to be the centerpiece of Hard Knocks. While focused on getting their teams ready for the coming season, they also have to play the role of TV producer, actively watching every episode of the show with a critical ear and a close eye on how the manner in which things presented during the show can and will be used against the team, the coach, the players, anyone.
Put simply, it’s an additional headache that no NFL coach should want.