No one wants to be on HBO's Hard Knocks. No one.
It's one of the coolest shows on television. The behind-the-scenes, all-access, really real, ground-breaking reality show has been going strong since 2001.
But inside the cloak-and-dagger world of the NFL, the last thing head coaches want is cameras cramming into every nook and cranny of their organization. At the very least, it's a distraction. At the very worst, it's a competitive disadvantage.
While fans love it, teams hate it. How do we know? Because the NFL actually has to come up with rules to determine which teams do it. If begging doesn't work, the league forces someone to do it.
The leagues sets up rules allowing teams to be exempt based on how new their coach is, when they last made the playoffs and their last appearance on the show. Using that criteria, eight teams are eligible. The list includes the Bucs and, as colleague Rick Stroud points out, the Bucs would be a good choice.
The most compelling? Here are the eight eligible teams rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most interesting.
Is there a more dysfunctional, dumpster fire of an organization than the Browns? You might think that would make the Browns a team you wouldn't want to see. But that makes them even more intriguing. If we can't see how a brilliant team like the Patriots works then let's see a team that can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Maybe HBO could do something it has never really done with before and that's go in-depth with the fans. There are no longer-suffering football fans than those from Cleveland.
Intrigue factor: 10
Who's more boring, Ravens coach John Harbaugh or Ravens QB Joe Flacco? I go in search of test patterns whenever these guys come on the my TV. I'm not saying they aren't good at what they do. Both own Super Bowl rings. They are looking to turn around the franchise. I just don't want to see it.
Intrigue factor: 2
The Titans are one of those organizations that has always bored me to tears. Maybe I still connect long-time former coach Jeff Fisher with this franchise, but whenever I think of them, I think mediocrity. Their uniforms are drab. They have no real history. Just … blah. Wait, you say, they do have quarterback Marcus Mariotta. But, come on. Nice player, sure. But he doesn't strike me as Mr. Personality.
Intrigue factor: 3
There's a pretty good buzz out there that the Colts are going to be the pick for Hard Knocks. Coach Chuck Pagano has a gripping background. He has overcome cancer and faith is a big part of his life. Andrew Luck started his career as one of the most talented QBs, but he is stuck on a mediocre team. Jim Irsay is an out-of-box owner. Lots to like here.
Intrigue factor: 7
This would be a great choice … if you're from Philadelphia. The rest of the country sees the Eagles as just another team with a semi-interesting quarterback in Carson Wentz. Other than that, just a run-of-the-mill .500 team that really doesn't move the needle. But I'd love to watch a reality show about the Philly media.
Intrigue factor: 2
Imagine if Hard Knocks had been around in the mid 1980s. The Super Bowl Shuffle Bears with Jim McMahon, Refrigerator Perry, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary and, of course, coach Mike Ditka might have made a show that would rank up there with Seinfeld as the greatest comedy ever. Today's version of the Bears on TV would be like the show Work It. (Google that show and see just how bad it was.) The only guy the Bears have that I would like to see behind-the-scenes is Jay Cutler, and I get the feeling I'd get tired of him about six minutes into the first episode.
Intrigue factor: 3
New Orleans Saints
Two marquee names — coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees — probably mean that HBO and the NFL are thinking long and hard about the Saints. Both are interesting characters. Payton for business reasons and family-man Brees for personal reasons. Build a show around those two, find a couple of bubble guys that HBO always makes us fall in love with and you've got a hit.
Intrigue factor: 6
Tampa Bay Bucs
Dirk Koetter. Give me Dirk Koetter. The guy shoots from the hip and barely has a filter when he knows he's talking to the media. Can you imagine what we would get if he was unfiltered and uncensored around the clock? Aside from the team's stars, there are others who you just know would eat up the camera, guys like Adam Humphries, Kwon Alexander and even kicker Robert Aguayo. As Stroud writes, this really would be a good team for Hard Knocks.
Intrigue factor: 9
Don't be shocked if the NFL goes with the Colts or Saints. I'll gladly take the Bucs. I'd be okay with the Saints. But the best team? The Cleveland Browns. If I can't get a really good team, give me a really bad one. And it doesn't get badder than the Browns.
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