Whether they like it or not, it appears the New Orleans Saints are being eyed by Roger Goodell and company as this year’s reality-TV goose. That’s according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who on Saturday cited a league source in reporting that “the Saints are bracing for the possibility of the league tapping them on the shoulder and directing them to be the subject of the annual Hard Knocks series.”
As Florio explains, only the Saints, Bills, Bears, Jaguars, Raiders, Chargers, and Rams would be obligated to take part in the popular HBO documentary if the NFL chose them. The rest of the league’s teams can deny the request because they either have a new coach, have been to the postseason in either of the last two years or have served as the Hard Knocks subject within the last 10 years.
The Saints would be an intriguing choice for this year’s series, given quarterback Drew Brees entering the final season of a five-year, $100 million deal for a team aiming to overcome a two-year postseason drought. Brees, 37, might soon be getting a contract extension, as could Coach Sean Payton, who has two years left on a deal paying him $8 million per year.
But early indications are that Payton would dread the cameras’ arrival to training camp. Last year he lamented the NFL’s affinity for broadcasting training camp fights, and he may resist TV crews barging into the room to document players being cut, one of Hard Knocks‘ most cherished traditions.
“I said this once at the start of my career: I’ll never be videotaped releasing a player,” Payton said at a news conference in January. He also added that if his team were chosen for the show, “I’d put my happy face on.”
Wherever HBO’s cameras wind up this summer, they’re unlikely to capture any moments as beautiful as this one: