The Cleveland Browns are ready for their close-up.
The team that perennially seems to pick at or near the top of the NFL draft is coming to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” training-camp reality show this summer. The network ebulliently announced that the collaboration with NFL Films will feature “a wave of new young players and veteran acquisitions” when the show debuts Aug. 7.
That “wave” includes No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, who should bring some swagger to the show that no team, really, seeks to be on. Only six teams — the Ravens, Broncos, Chargers, 49ers, Redskins and Browns — were eligible to be forced to do the show. Coach Hue Jackson has changed his tune about participating after saying, “Oh, my God, I’m not interested in that” in January 2017, following the team’s one-win season.
“I’ve been a part of ‘Hard Knocks’ and, when you experience it firsthand, you come to appreciate the inside look it really gives fans,” he said in a news release issued by HBO. “We are excited about what we are building within our organization and feel good about the progress we have made this offseason. Being able to bring our fans in so they can get to know our players and our organization in a different way will be a huge positive for us. I want people to see how much our players and coaches care, how hard they work and how badly they want to win for Cleveland. This will be a great opportunity for our team.”
A good place to start will be with Jackson, who plans to fulfill his promise of jumping in Lake Erie if the team went 1-15 again in 2017. Well, the Browns went 0-16, and Jackson plans to take the plunge for charity June 1.
“Hard Knocks,” the official harbinger of the football season, began in 2001 with the Ravens and was followed by the Cowboys in 2002. It resumed in 2007 with the Chiefs, followed by the Cowboys, Bengals and New York Jets (Rex Ryan and the classic “let’s go eat a [bleep] snack” edition). The show was canceled in 2011 because of the league’s lockout, then resumed in 2012 with the Dolphins, followed by the Bengals, Falcons, Texans, Rams and Buccaneers.
“We have been asked multiple times about being featured on ‘Hard Knocks,’ and we really felt like it was our turn this year and the timing was right. We want to be great partners in this league, and we also recognize ‘Hard Knocks’ gives fans a special opportunity to learn more about our team and players,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “Organizationally, we are confident about where we are headed, but we have a lot of work to do in order for this franchise to earn the respect of our fans on the field. We understand winning is ultimately most important to our fans.”
HBO reminds us that six of the past eight teams to appear on the show have equaled or improved their record, something that seems doable for the Browns.
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