Democracy Dies in Darkness

Early Lead

One team eligible for ‘Hard Knocks’ 2018 already is lobbying against it

By Matt Bonesteel

January 3, 2018 at 2:13 PM

The Bengals were on “Hard Knocks” in 2013. Who will it be this year? (Associated Press/)

Considering that this year’s playoffs haven’t even begun, it might be a tad early to start thinking about the team that will be featured on “Hard Knocks” next season. But at the very least, we know which teams can be compelled by the NFL to appear on HBO’s long-running training camp documentary series.

Teams can avoid the “Hard Knocks” treatment if they meet one of the following three prerequisites:

1.) They have a first-year coach.

Eliminated (so far): Colts, Raiders, Cardinals, Bears, Lions, Giants

2.) They have a playoff appearance in the previous two seasons.

Eliminated: Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Chiefs, Titans, Bills, Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Texans, Raiders, Dolphins, Cowboys, Seahawks, Packers, Giants, Lions

3.) They have appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years.

Eliminated: Bucs, Rams, Texans, Falcons, Bengals (two appearances), Dolphins, Jets, Cowboys

Knowing all that, the following teams can be compelled to appear on “Hard Knocks” this summer: 49ers, Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Ravens, Redskins.

Considering the history of teams that have appeared on the show — of the previous 10 squads to be featured, only four made the playoffs the following season — and the fact that most coaches would sooner invite a plague of locusts to training camp before they invite a documentary crew, teams can be somewhat reticent to appear. That already appears to be the case.

“It’s not something we would be really excited about,” 49ers General Manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “I love the show, but I think some things are best left behind closed doors. I fundamentally have a problem with cutting players and things of that nature [on camera]. It’s not something we’d be thrilled about.”

Browns Coach Hue Jackson spoke out against the idea of a “Hard Knocks” appearance coming off a 1-15 season in 2016. One would expect him to be equally opposed coming off a season without even one victory.

“Oh my God, I’m not interested in that,” Jackson said last January. “I’m interested in just coaching our team and getting our team better.”

Of course, a team not on the list of six could step up and volunteer to be on the show. In any case, we’ll know which team gets the honor sometime later this year; the announcement usually occurs between March and June.

More on the NFL:

Does Carson Palmer belong in the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Very Good?

NFL playoffs: The fatal flaw that could doom every postseason team

Power ranking the NFL playoff teams: Patriots, Vikings and Steelers lead the way

The ‘mother of all stats’ doesn’t see the Patriots as Super Bowl contenders

Examining the Redskins’ top quarterback options if Kirk Cousins leaves

‘I think I am being considered, yes’: ESPN’s Jon Gruden on becoming the Raiders’ next coach


Matt Bonesteel spent the first 17 years of his Washington Post career writing and editing. In 2014, Bonesteel pivoted from the newspaper to online and now he blogs for the Early Lead and other Web-based products owned by The Post.

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Early Lead

One team eligible for ‘Hard Knocks’ 2018 already is lobbying against it

By Matt Bonesteel

January 3, 2018 at 2:13 PM

The Bengals were on “Hard Knocks” in 2013. Who will it be this year? (Associated Press/)

Considering that this year’s playoffs haven’t even begun, it might be a tad early to start thinking about the team that will be featured on “Hard Knocks” next season. But at the very least, we know which teams can be compelled by the NFL to appear on HBO’s long-running training camp documentary series.

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