There are few things NFL fans love more than HBO’s long-running ‘Hard Knocks‘ series.
The annual docuseries follows personal and professional lives of the players, coaches and staff from one (and sometimes two) NFL team each preseason.
Last year’s season followed around the Detroit Lions and eccentric head coach Dan Campbell prior to their surprisingly strong season.
This year, however, the NFL appears to be struggling to find a team to showcase.
According to previous NFL/HBO rules, a team doesn’t have to be on the show if ANY of the three rules below applies to them:
- They have a first-year head coach in place.
- They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons.
- They have appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years.
That leaves just four eligible teams for the 2023 edition: the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Washington Commanders.
The Bears have already stated their preference not to participate.
Kevin Fishbain of The Athleticreports that Bears chairman George McCaskey made his wishes clear:
The Bears, a team with a returning head coach and one that hasn’t been to the playoffs in at least two seasons, are eligible to be forced to do it. With a player like Fields in a market like Chicago, they could be a popular choice, but McCaskey has long held the view that the team would prefer “Hard Knocks” film elsewhere. “We feel there are a number of teams that have compelling stories to tell on ‘Hard Knocks,’” he said. Asked if that included the Bears, he clarified, “Thirty-one others.”
Now it appears they’re not alone.
The Jets would appear to be the obvious choice, after trading for four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers in the offseason. But they appear to be against the idea as well.
Man y’all can give hard knocks to another team man we tryna focus and win that’s a distraction 🤷🏾♂️ https://t.co/I3UKllwL7D
— Justin Hardee Sr. (@jhardee_19) April 2, 2023
Jets owner Woody Johnson, who actively courted the show in 2012 (though his team was not picked) told Brian Costello the New York Post “whether we do it this year, I think we’d have to take a hard look.”
Woody Johnson on whether the Jets would want to be on "Hard Knocks" this year: "Whether we do it this year, I think we’d have to take a hard look."
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) March 28, 2023
Commanders special team ace Jeremy Reaves didn’t exactly seem enthused by the idea either.
Ultimately, the league can compel any of the four teams to do the show according to a longstanding league rule. But only the Saints appear not to have shot down the idea. Which leaves the NFL with some very limited options without having to pull teeth.