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Hard Knocks has been a staple of the NFL season since it first debuted on HBO back in 2001. The fan favorite show has long given football die-hards an inside look at professional teams during their training camps, and last year even tried out an “in-season” version of the show with the Arizona Cardinals.
Football fans love the show and can’t get enough of it, but it seems as though NFL teams are beginning to grow sour to the idea of an “all-access” camera crew invading their locker rooms.
The series has long been advertised as a sports drama, often following a team trying to rebound from a poor or unsuccessful season. Turns out, that added attention of cameras all around doesn’t always help out a team’s rebuild, and has even been labeled as a distraction by some.
Teams are exempt from being chosen for Hard Knocks if they have made the playoffs in the past two seasons, so having the show follow you doesn’t seem so much as an “opportunity” as it does a “penalty.” NFL franchises also get a “get-out-of-show free card” if they have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years, or if they have a first year head coach.
And with that in mind, there are only four teams that are supposed to be in the running for this year’s version of the show: the Saints, the Jets, the Bears, and the Commanders.
Last year, the Dan Campbell led Detroit Lions took the Hard Knocks fan base by storm, and gave many a reason to root for the historically bad Detroit team as they surprised the league with their passionate play. The reaction from viewers was so positive, those behind the show approached them again this year to see if they would “run it back,” but the Lions declined the offer.
Report: NFL Films reached out to the #Lions to do 'Hard Knocks' for the second consecutive season, per @detroitnews
The NFL is apparently struggling to find a team willing to do Hard Knocks this season.
The only reason they were approached about doing a second year in a row was because the other teams in contention weren’t showing much interest in inviting the Hard Knocks crew in. Due to the agreement with NFL Films and the league, the NFL does have the power to force one of the four teams to participate in the show.
However, they have also reportedly opened it up to teams outside of the four teams that have “obligations” to see if another franchise would more happily agree to terms with the HBO program.
It has been said that the Washington Commanders have voiced that they would be willing, but the NFL might be weary focusing in on them considering the drama that has surrounded the team during its recent ownership change.
Time is running out for Hard Knocks to find a suitable partner for the show, with the program usually premiering in the beginning of August. Training camps for NFL teams generally kick off in the later parts of July, which is when cameras typically start rolling.