This year, four teams are eligible to be drafted to serve as the focal point of Hard Knocks. However, the league is finding it rather hard to pick a team.
The “Hard Knocks” formula says a team doesn’t have to be on the show if ANY of the three rules below applies to them:
- They have a first-year head coach in place.
- They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons.
- They have appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years.
A team like the Denver Broncos doesn’t have to be on the show because they have Sean Payton in place after trading for him this offseason. The same thing goes for the Houston Texans who signed DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach. The Patriots won’t have to be on the show because they’ve made the playoffs at least once in the past two seasons and the Cowboys won’t have to be on the show because they’ve appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years.
With those rules in place, then you only get the Jets, Bears, Saints, and Commanders.
By the end of March last year, the league had already announced that the Detroit Lions would be on Hard Knocks. However, the NFL is yet to make an announcement on who will be featured in the HBO Sports and NFL Films production.
The Jets are by far the most compelling option after they traded for Aaron Rodgers this offseason with the Green Bay Packers and the QB is always good to say something outlandish that would grab attention. However, the team wouldn’t want to do it as they have high expectations headed into the 2023 season.
Jets owner Woody Johnson told Brian Costello the New York Post “Whether we do it this year, I think we’d have to take a hard look.”
The Bears have indicated they are not keen to take part in what is sure to be a crucial summer of development for third-year quarterback Justin Fields.
Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic reported that Bears chairman George McCaskey made his wishes clear:
“The Bears, a team with a returning head coach and one that hasn’t been to the playoffs in at least two seasons, are eligible to be forced to do it. With a player like Fields in a market like Chicago, they could be a popular choice, but McCaskey has long held the view that the team would prefer “Hard Knocks” film elsewhere. “We feel there are a number of teams that have compelling stories to tell on ‘Hard Knocks,’” he said. Asked if that included the Bears, he clarified, “Thirty-one others.”
The Saints are getting ready for a new era after signing QB Derek Carr in free agency and likely wouldn’t want the distractions.
That leaves the Commanders, who are coming into 2023 with a possible new owner in Josh Harris pending takeover from Daniel Snyder awaiting approval from the league.
Eventually, the NFL will have to make a decision regardless of what teams say, but it is likely they will select the least stubborn team of the four.
The first episode of Hard Knocks will air in early August.
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