Blog Entry

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

Posted on: July 7, 2011 9:12 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 9:38 am
Hard Knocks (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Throughout the lockout that seems neverending -- now at 114 days and counting!!! -- we’ve seen players get arrested, we’ve seen the NFL and the NFLPA come together and then bicker and then come together and then bicker, and we’ve seen players sue their girlfriends for their engagement rings.

Most disturbing, we’ve seen the signs that Brett Favre might want to return for another season.

We’ve also heard plenty about how a lost preseason would cost the NFL $800 million if the lockout continues through August and into September.

But when it comes to the preseason and how much is on the line, you know what we haven’t heard about? We haven’t heard which squad will be the subject of the annual highlight of August –- HBO’s "Hard Knocks."  

Oh, we know which teams have already declined the invitation (or supposedly, declined the invitation). Among them are the Buccaneers, the Broncos, the Lions and the Falcons (who might be open to doing it in the future), and at this point, it seems as if nobody wants to be on the show. Making matters tougher are those who say cooperating with Hard Knocks is a mistake.

Assuming we’ll see a preseason this year that would provide a platform for the Hard Knocks crew to start filming -- and CBSSports.coms’ Mike Freeman writes that it’s getting close --here are five teams we’d like to see featured on Hard Knocks. Many of them might not be interested for one reason or another, but if we have a fantasy roster, this is it.


NewtonThe big storyline: Simply put: the entertainer and the icon, Cam Newton. We want to see how he learns the offense; we want to see if his teammates rally around him; we want to get an early idea of whether Carolina made a bad decision last April. Or maybe he’s the next superstar in the game. Either way, he’s one of the biggest storylines of the preseason, and we want to be inside the locker room to see what happens.

The foil: Jimmy Clausen. How is he going to react to Newton? What happens when Newton badly fakes out some defender destined for the practice squad and gains 30 yards on a broken play? Will the director then cut to Clausen as he raises a fist to the sky in anger? And what happens if Clausen, um, actually outplays Newton?

Two other compelling reasons: 1)’s Gil Brandt has mentioned in the past couple of days that Favre has offered to help mentor Newton. Can you imagine the video that could come from this, especially if the camera caught Favre alone in the locker room sending a text message? 2) WR Steve Smith: is he going to play for the Panthers or not?


The big storyline: The same guy who makes sure this show would never feature his team on his watch. That would be coach Bill Belichick. How fascinating would it be to see how Belichick builds a team and how he relates to his players? Would we get to see Belichick’s team meeting in which he implicitly tells his team how to answer questions from the media (in the most uninteresting way possible)? Kidding aside, we want to see a future Hall of Fame coach behind the scenes and uncensored.

The foil: Rex Ryan. Is there any way to get a split screen of the Jets coach talking trash about Belichick -- hey, he’s not here to kiss anybody’s ring! – while Belichick coldly goes about finding a way to make Ryan pay for his words?

Two other compelling reasons: 1) Danny Woodhead: he was on Hard Knocks with the Jets last season, and though he’s not in danger of being cut with New England, I still want to know why Woodhead, all of a sudden, is so freaking good. 2) G Logan Mankins (and his agent) has said some not very complimentary things about the Patriots management, all in the name of landing a large contract. Will he be kinder and gentler this preseason?


The big storyline: Obviously, the Lombardi Trophy. Hard Knocks has never followed a team the preseason after it won the Super Bowl, so it’d be cool to see the ring ceremony the public wasn’t allowed to witness a few weeks back (I’m assuming Hard Knocks wasn’t actually there, but it’d be cool nonetheless) while watching the Packers attempt a repeat.

The foil: Charles Woodson vs. Tramon Williams. Woodson is the bigger name, but he’s older than Williams and there’s a pretty good chance Williams is the better CB these days. Maybe we’d really get to see if Woodson is close to the end, and if Williams can replace Woodson’s outrageous production.

Two other compelling reasons: 1) Would Aaron Rodgers sign autographs for the fans at training camp? Because, as we all know, he doesn’t like signing for cancer patients (I kid, I kid). 2) Last year, little-used cornerback Brandon Underwood had a sexual assault charge hanging over his head all season (he pleaded no contest to a lesser charge). Now, he’s been charged with disorderly conduct after an alleged physical altercation with his soon-to-be ex-wife. Underwood isn’t a great quote, but his story might make for an interesting change of pace on the show.


The big storyline: The will-they-or-won’t-they-fire-him as it relates to coach Gary Kubiak. I’m kind of surprised he’s still coaching in Houston actually, and the last time Hard Knocks featured this kind of storyline, it was Wade Phillips with the Cowboys. Now, Phillips is Kubiak’s defensive coordinator. How hot can that boiler room get anyway?

The foil: The secondary. This is what I wrote in the Texans offseason checkup: “The secondary (Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson) were just tremendously bad. If the Texans can’t get this fixed, it doesn’t matter who’s coordinating the defense, because Houston simply won’t win.” I don’t disagree with that.

Two other compelling reasons: 1) Though he came off a bit bumbling in Season 4 with the Cowboys, Phillips is a sympathetic figure. And the man has proved he can coordinate a defense. I want to see how he transforms a 4-3 sieve-like defense into a 3-4 defense that potentially could save Kubiak’s job. 2) Will QB Matt Schaub ever get into the playoffs? He’s the best quarterback in the league who hasn’t gotten there.


The big storyline: Obviously, Al Davis, and the one question I want to know. How hands-on is he these days?

The foil: Nnamdi Asomugha: Just like Darrelle Revis last season with the Jets, we’re not going to see too much of the talented free agent cornerback on the TV. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see any of Antonio Cromartie either (psst, see video below).

Two other compelling reasons: 1) New coach Hue Jackson finally gets his chance at running a team. Forget that Tom Cable went 6-0 in the AFC West last year without making the playoffs -- still a pretty damn impressive feat. Davis got rid of him, just like he gets rid of everybody after a couple years. Will Jackson be an exception? 2) Al Davis: Seriously, I want as much Al Davis as possible.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 6:59 am
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Since: Dec 27, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2011 3:27 pm

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11


Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 2:44 pm

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

One small edit..I would love a TV show featured Antonio Cromartie trying to name his kids. That was the absolute peak of Hard Knocks. Nothing will ever come within ten miles of that heartwarming moment. He looked like someone trying to name all seven dwarves or all eight reindeer. Absolutely the greatest thing anyone could ever want to see.

"Ummm....there's LaDayDay..she's...five...then, there's Johnny..he's..umm...three?...and then there's the little one...she's..little."

And I love how he kept looking at the sky as if the answer was written in the clouds. Father of the Year for sure.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 2:38 pm

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

Here's the best idea: no one. How many times do we need to see teams running through drills in shells? Is hearing a position coach get bleeped every third word still exciting to anyone? How about the inevitable profile of the special teams coach? Or the riveting drama of which third-string D tackle makes the roster? Does that do it for anyone? Didn't think so. I'd rather have a camera crew follow guys to the strip clubs and night clubs than watch coaches I've never heard of breathlessly discuss a team I don't care about.

Since: Nov 21, 2007
Posted on: July 8, 2011 8:37 am

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11


Your analysis of having the Packers on Hard Knocks is weak at best (Thank GOD).  I don't want that crew anywhere near Lambeau Field.  Only really compelling thing would be watching any of the players create a special bond during training camp with the kid who lets the player ride their bike to the practice field every day.  Same kid, same player.  But, seeing as how I see it locally every year, that is fine with me.

Would love to see the Panthers.  Your arguments are quite compelling, I must say.

Since: Jul 15, 2010
Posted on: July 8, 2011 8:04 am

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

Not sure how watching Wade Phillips running another team into the ground without pads or listening the the Pats talk about Brady's hair would make a good show. I am very suprised the Giants didnt make the list. Couple 1st rounders picked up for a 2 year D under Perry Fewell that is predectied to be the number 1 D in the NFL this year. And how can we forget Tom C. Hes a general who get alot of flack. Show what these guys are like on the team and prob a lighter side to Coughlin. Also maybe they will get Eli a litttle less camera shy. I love the guy but anytime there is a camera on him his face looks like there is a sniper somewhere ready to take him out. NY has stayed politically correct and im curious what these guys say when it isnt written for him. Steers can take a lesson from them, lookin at you Mendenhal.

Since: Jul 8, 2011
Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:45 am

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

The Patriots would be a team that sounds intresting but in reality terribly boring...Great Team just not so intresting, but id love to see the lions now more than ever with their new youth movement

Since: Jul 30, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:56 pm

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

Packers don't want no stinkin film crews. We're good thanks

Since: Jul 30, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:55 pm

Who we want to see on Hard Knocks '11

At this point, I don't think people want stability....instability is much more interesting especially after the lockout. More free agent action, QB controversies, the wild and wacky characters like Ownes, Ochocinco, Moss. I would think Redskins, Cincy, Raiders, AZ, Carolina, Jacksonville would be way more fun to watch.

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