Assuming Coach Jay Gruden isn’t fired in the coming days and instead returns for his sixth year, the Redskins are one of five teams that can be compelled by the NFL to appear on “Hard Knocks,” HBO’s training camp documentary series, in 2019.
The 49ers, Giants, Lions and Raiders are the other four teams that aren’t exempt from participating by virtue of having a first-year coach, a playoff appearance in the past two years or appearing on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years. (No, the Redskins’ cameo during their brawl with the Texans at a joint practice in Richmond when Houston was featured on the program in 2015 doesn’t count.)
While “Hard Knocks” is popular with fans, the extra cameras and crew at training camp can be a distraction for the teams featured on the show, and many would rather not deal with the potential headache. Redskins fans might be more interested in an all-access look at the decision-making going on inside Redskins Park over the next few weeks, especially with respect to team President Bruce Allen’s future, than the fight for the final roster spot come August. Still, an appearance on “Hard Knocks” would make the team’s preseason a whole lot more interesting.
The Redskins weren’t interested in appearing on the show in 2015. In 2016, then-Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan told NBC Washington’s Carol Maloney that Washington would “never” sign up to be featured on “Hard Knocks.” Maloney asked McCloughan if “never” meant while he was employed by Washington.
“Or Bruce [Allen], or Dan [Snyder],” McCloughan, who would be fired seven months later, replied. “No, no, no, no, no. It’s tough enough as we go through the process of training camp, trying to get down to 75 [players], trying to get down to 53. It’s really hard. People don’t need to know our business.”
Gruden knows what it’s like to appear on “Hard Knocks.” The Bengals were featured in 2013 while Gruden was the offensive coordinator. Cincinnati went on to win the AFC North that season, making them one of only four teams among the last 11 squads featured on “Hard Knocks” to qualify for the playoffs the following season.
Before his first season with the Redskins, Gruden told Redskins.com that one appearance on “Hard Knocks” was enough for him.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal to have the crews in there,” Gruden said. “It was kind of fun actually. I would prefer not to have it, but if the NFL forced our hand, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
NFL Films doesn’t want an unwilling participant, so unless the Redskins have had a change of heart about appearing on the show, don’t expect an HBO presence in Richmond this summer. The Giants, with Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr., and Raiders, with camera-loving coach Jon Gruden, both seem like better bets to be featured.
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