“Really, if they were smart they’d go to Oakland,” Jay Gruden said of his brother’s team. “Seriously. You have Antonio Brown, Jon Gruden, Paul Guenther, Vontaze Burfict. [Richie] Incognito. They’d be crazy not to go to Oakland. They could do us next year, maybe."
Said Patricia: “I think Jon Gruden is an excellent choice for that show. I think the Oakland Raiders and everything they’ve got going on right now would be fantastic viewing for everybody to watch.”
To which Jon Gruden parried: “Appreciate Matt Patricia, my friend, offering that up to me. That beard that Patricia has, he’s going to be a star. I mean he’s going to be one of the future television stars. I’d be surprised if ‘Monday Night Football’ doesn’t put him upstairs in the future.”
Finding a willing subject, in other words, can be a chore for the NFL and HBO. But this year, they might not have to twist any arms because the Arizona Cardinals — who already have documentary experience thanks to their 2015 appearance on the Amazon docuseries “All or Nothing" — might be raising their hands.
“We’re always going to listen to everything,” team president Michael Bidwill said Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “We’ll see what comes up.
“I think we’ve done a good job of being available and volunteering to do thing, like ‘All or Nothing.’ So we’ll see where we end up.”
The Cardinals are one of five teams — along with the Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers — that can be forced to appear on the show because they haven’t been on it in the past 10 years, they haven’t made the playoffs the past two seasons and don’t have a first-year head coach.
Having the HBO cameras and microphones documenting your every training camp move is seen as an unneeded distraction, which is why so few teams volunteer to appear. But it has happened: In 2016, the Rams stepped up to appear on the show ahead of their first season back in Los Angeles, seeing the show as a way to sell the team to an unfamiliar market.
Others are less enthusiastic, perhaps also because of the 14 teams to be featured on the show, only five — the Houston Texans (2015), Cincinnati Bengals (2013 and 2009), New York Jets (2010) and Baltimore Ravens (2001) — have gone on to make the playoffs.
“It’s not something we would be really excited about,” 49ers General Manager John Lynch said in 2018, when his team was eligible to be picked. “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.”
Said Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson that same year: “Oh my God, I’m not interested in that."
The Browns were picked to be on the show. Jackson was fired after eight games that season.
As for this year, the Steelers aren’t exactly as welcoming to the idea as the Cardinals, though both the NFL and HBO might be salivating at the thought of having one of the league’s most popular franchises take part.
“I know it seems like it’s getting a lot of attention here and it’s one of those things that if we have to do it, we’ll grin and bear it,” team owner Art Rooney II said last month. “I think if they ask if we’re volunteering for this, we’ll say no. It’s not necessarily a volunteer kind of situation anymore, as you know.”