In 1992, America got its first real taste of reality television when MTV gave seven strangers (and everyone watching them) the opportunity to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.
The Real World was an instant hit, and over the course of the decade, a few more shows would follow its lead in an attempt to quench the nation’s newfound thirst for unscripted drama.
However, reality television didn’t really hit its stride until the new millennium rolled around and viewers were hit with a deluge of shows where a bunch of people were brought together before being pitted against each other thanks to the promise of a large sum of cash.
Survivor and Big Brother hit the airwaves in 2000 and The Amazing Race made its debut the following year about a month after the first episode of another series that has more in common with those shows than most people would think: Hard Knocks.
2001 marked the first year HBO was tasked with documenting the trials and tribulations of an NFL team as it prepares for the season and the crew focused its cameras on the Baltimore Ravens as they geared up to defend their Super Bowl title.
The gridiron proved to produce just as much drama as an isolated island or a house on lockdown, and while there were no contestants, there were plenty of hungry players willing to do whatever it took to earn a roster spot and the paycheck that comes with it.
Not everyone is thrilled with the concept of having a camera watching your every move in search of some dirty laundry that can be broadcast to the world, and after a number of teams refused to be featured in 2013, the NFL instituted a new policy that makes a franchise exempt if they meet one of three criteria, which are:
- They have a first-year head coach.
- 2) They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons.
- 3) They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years.
Five teams were eligible at the end of last season and the NFL gave the people what they wanted when the Raiders got the nod, and while the combination of Jon Gruden and Antonio Brown seemed ripe for drama, a lot of people were less than satisfied when things wrapped up.
Now that the regular season is over, we can turn our attention to the next installment of Hard Knocks that will feature one of these five candidates:
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Detroit Lions
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Arizona Cardinals
- Denver Broncos
There are a number of compelling storylines here and there’s no doubt viewers would tune in to watch Ben Roethlisberger make his grand return or stare longingly at the beautiful physical specimen that is Kliff Kingsbury.
However, as far as I’m concerned, the Jaguars are the obvious choice thanks to one equally obvious factor: Gardner. Fucking. Minshew.
I honestly don’t know how this is even a debate and I sincerely hope the powers that be feel the same way.