It’s been more than 20 years since the Baltimore Ravens invited a film crew to chronicle the ups and downs of training camp for the inaugural season of Hard Knocks, which debuted on HBO in 2001.
Hard Knocks is a series rooted in drama, and part of its appeal stems from the fact that the franchises that are featured are typically attempting to rebound from an underwhelming season.
It would be a bit of a stretch to label an appearance on Hard Knocks as a “punishment,” but it’s also a bit hard to deny that’s the case when you consider the subjects that are forced to deal with the objective distraction it creates are able to gain an exemption if they appeared in the playoffs at some point in the previous two seasons.
Teams also get a free pass if they’re dealing with a first-year head coach or have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years, which meant four of them—the Jets, Bears, Commanders, and Saints—were the only ones technically in contention for the upcoming season.
However, earlier this month, we learned NFL Films was having a bit of trouble getting any of those teams to agree to participate, and while producers reportedly reached out to the Lions about coming back for the second year in a row, it appears Detriot has opted to pass on that offer.
According to Pro Football Talk, the league—which is well within its right to force any member of the aforementioned quartet to participate—is going out of its way to find a more willing suitor, as the outlet reports Hard Knocks has expanded its search to teams that have no obligation to be featured in the hopes of coming to an amicable agreement:
Per multiple sources, the NFL has expanded its search for preseason Hard Knocks teams beyond the four that, by league rule, technically could be forced to do it — the Jets, Bears, Saints, and Commanders.
The first three have made clear that they have no interest in doing it. The Commanders, we’re told, would do it if selected.
Hard Knocks typically premieres in the first half of August, so while there’s still a fair amount of time left to find a solution, the clock is certainly ticking.