Football season may still be a few months away, but it’s never too early to set your DVR to record “Hard Knocks,” HBO’s show that follows the preseason of an NFL team. The upcoming season will feature the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Florida Football Insiders reported Tuesday, giving screen time to quarterback Jameis Winston, who has largely avoided the spotlight after recently settling a civil suit brought by a woman who alleged Winston sexually assaulted her while the two were students at Florida State.
A spokeswoman for the Buccaneers said the team could not “confirm nor deny” the “variety of reports and rumors” regarding the team’s participation in the show, but said the team would be addressing the situation publicly on Wednesday.
HBO, meanwhile, declined to comment.
While any potential Winston story line might garner the most media attention, the program will likely attract interest because of running back Doug Martin, who recently completed a stint in a rehabilitation center after admitting he was addicted to Adderall, a commonly prescribed stimulant that treats attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Martin, who reported to workouts this week and “looks great,” according to Bucs General Manager Jason Licht (via NFL.com), will be suspended for the team’s first three regular season games.
While the Bucs have one of the smaller fan bases of any NFL team, it is not a surprise that the team was reportedly chosen to star in the program, which also gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the grueling cuts prospective players face annually.
This year, only eight teams were eligible to participate under guidelines NFL owners passed in 2013 that exempt teams from the HBO show under three criteria:
1) They have a first-year head coach OR
2) They made the playoffs at least once in the past two seasons OR
3) They appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the last decade.
This year, that left the Bucs, as well as the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints, eligible for the role.
The Bucs, perhaps out of necessity, sounded up for their starring role on national television when asked about it on Monday.
“I’ve said it before, I feel good about our team and the maturity, especially for being a young group,” Licht said (via FFI). “I know we have some great personalities on our team starting with Jameis, Gerald [McCoy], the list goes on and on, [linebacker] Kwon [Alexander], I think the fans would get an inside look at how our team really is.”
Licht downplayed criticism the show might distract players from the task at hand — to prepare for a winning season.
“I think we’re wired to where we would be able to minimize that,” he said.
Defensive tackle McCoy appeared to agree with Licht, but seemed less-than-enthused to welcome HBO’s cameras to the team locker room.
“If we get picked, it is what it is,” McCoy said (via FFI) on Monday.
“We’ve still got a season to prepare for, whether there’s a camera watching or not,” he added. “We play the games on Sunday’s with cameras watching, so if you think you can’t go out to practice and practice with a camera on you, then you’re probably in the wrong profession.”