Back in 2001, HBO and NFL Films teamed up to create the ultimate football reality show. No actors. No scripts. Simply capturing the NFL offseason for a national audience. More often than not, the show focused heavily on a handful of rookies or “new additions,” documenting their adjustment to the league and the struggle to make the final 53-man roster in August. For some, the show ended with celebration, as they signed on the “X,” fulfilling a life-long dream to play in the NFL. For others, their time in the spotlight ended with a not-so-pleasant meeting, following bad some melodramatic music as the camera filmed them cleaning out their locker.
While the concept of the show was extremely successful at the start, more recently, teams have begun to shy away from hosting the show. Naturally, few coaches would be thrilled with the idea of a camera crew following the teams’ every move, creating endless distractions and forcing some players into focusing on being television personalities, instead of professional football players. So, as fewer and fewer teams fought for the “privilege” to hosting Hard Knocks, Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an attempt to keep the series alive, made some interesting mandates. Specifically, last October, Goodell announced that one team each year will be required to participate in Hard Knocks. Teams with new coaches, teams that have been in the playoffs at least once in the past two seasons, and teams that have participated at least once in the past 10 years are exempt from being forced into appearing on the show.
Heading into 2014, with no “volunteer” in sight, there are eight teams that could be pressed into hosting: Steelers, Bills, Bears, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Raiders, and, of course, the Rams.
For Jeff Fisher and the youngest roster in the NFL, the idea of being forced onto TV might seem like a catastrophe in the making. However…
HBO and the NFL have narrowed down the HARD KNOCKS teams to a list of three: Bears, Giants, Steelers.
— LooneyaboutSports (@LooneyonFox) April 29, 2014
At this point, neither the NFL nor HBO have confirmed this report. However, comments last week from Goodell suggested that there was some “narrowing” of teams, and that some decision would likely be made in the near future,
“There are several clubs that are interested in doing this,” Goodell said, via Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I just don’t have an update on which club, whether it’s going to be a volunteer or if it’s somebody who is going to have to fulfill the obligation. But I’m sure that decision will be made pretty soon.”
If the former claim is accurate, HBO will center their show on one of the larger market teams from the original list. The Chicago Bears, of the three, would seem like the most logical choice, with Mike Tomlin and Tom Coughlin both falling in the same “no-nonsense” category as Jeff Fisher. Either way, it looks like the St. Louis Rams are safe from the dreaded “Curse of the Hard Knocks.” However, if they hope to get out of the running for the show in 2015, they had better make the playoffs this season. That should serve as motivation, right?