Hard Knocks on HBO was one of the most entertaining sports series I have seen. In a world where T.O., OchoCinco, and Lamar Odom can make their mark on reality television, the show is a great way to have comedy, drama, and some good ol’ Rex Ryan to keep you happy throughout the NFL preseason. Obviously with the uncertainty clouding the current season, it seems everyone is skittish about being the next team chronicled on the premium channel.
According to the Detroit Free Press, PFT/NBC Sports, and CBS Sports, so far the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and even Dr. Kronner’s beloved Detroit Lions have all rejected offers to be the next ‘Hard Knocks’ team. (PFT’s Poll for who the fans want out of the NFC) A lot of the speculation goes with the lockout ongoing with no real end in sight, there’s no point in having a TV crew document a training camp that may or may not happen. There’s no drama in watching coaches sitting in a room hoping their players get through their playbook while running their player workouts at some random high school. There’s no comedy in watching trainers and other employees at their facilities getting laid off, or stadium workers struggling to find another job to make ends meet. Heck, even Rex Ryan’s Jets want no part of it and I would watch a show with him any day of the week (unless it’s about feet. That’s just…no).
So who’s the next team they ask? Looking at the list of the Bucs, Lions, Broncos, and Falcons, they are looking for the team that is about to take the next step and has intriguing storylines. With the Bucs, can they carry over their momentum, and can Josh Freeman establish himself as an elite QB? Can the Lions finally break the streak and protect Matthew Stafford? Can the Broncos with Elway in charge, rebuild on the fly with John Fox and Tim Tebow? Could the Falcons and Matty Ice lead the Dirty Birds back to the Super Bowl? Here are some suggestions of teams that they can go to:
Pete Carroll loves him some attention and having turned around the ‘Hawks into a playoff team (albeit in the NFC West) after the year before should garner some good attention. They have a solid young D, a charismatic coach, and a crazy person in Marshawn Lynch. That’s solid television right there. Add in a Carson Palmer trade? That’s gold.
San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh should get chronicled as well as he makes the transition into a NFL gig. You have an under-achieving team for the last couple of years under Mike Singletary (who also, is a golden candidate for this show) ready to shake things up and turn it all around. With Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Patrick Willis to anchor the team, they can turn a few heads. Plus Patrick Willis is possibly the best damn linebacker in the game right now. I would love for them to pick his head on the show and break down his process.
St. Louis Rams
I’m aware that I’ve picked all NFC West teams and there’s a reason for this: They all can win the division (except Arizona, the curse of Kurt Warner remains) and they all have great young talent. Sam Bradford has the look to be a great QB and with Stephen Jackson behind him and James Laurinaitis securing the defense in the middle, they have a good shot to have teams circle them on the schedule. And the rumors of Chad OchoCinco going to the SL? It’d be a shame if his VH1 show was the only reality show in the area.
Set camera down. Put Ray Lewis in front of it. Record. That’s all you would have to do. They did it once before and they set the tone of the series. It’d be cool to have them bring it back with Ray-Ray in his final years, Flacco trying to make the jump, and just to see that defense in their meetings and on the practice field. You have to wonder why they’ve been able to stay so consistent year after year. They would be a prime candidate for sure because they are also waiting to take that next step and jump over the Steelers.
Michael Vick is a polarizing figure. You either hate his guts (deservedly so) or want him to claw his way back to the top and root for him (also deserved since he’s passed through the system). Chronically him alone would make for great television as you see him emerge as the go-to man on his second team and to see if he cracks under the pressure. Just like he did in the playoffs. Can he rebound? Does Andy Reid really know what he’s doing? Can they add Nnamdi Asomugha with Asante Samuel to form the scariest corner tandem of the year? Can their defense rebound with yet another new defensive coordinator? These are answers we must know and they must be on HBO!
To close, I did not include the Steelers, Colts, or Patriots for a bunch of little reasons and one big reason. The big reason is they wouldn’t allow it. No team wants cameras pointing at them especially if they like to keep their secrets their own (as Belichick learned a few years ago) and let’s face it, the Patriots and Colts would be boring as hell. There’s no drama there. The Steelers would be intriguing, but you know darn well the Rooney family would not expose themselves like that. Especially since that team relishes the chip on the shoulder attitude, and having the spotlight on them would seem to go against their gritty demeanor. Either way, I hope one of the teams does do Hard Knocks. It truly is great insight into a training camp through the veterans, the rookies, and those struggling just to make the team. As much as reality television annoys the hell out of me, I cannot help but yet sucked in by the human condition and their struggles and triumphs.