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.
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