SBD/May 31, 2012/Media

NFL Films Responds To Critics On Choice Of Dolphins For "Hard Knocks"

The Dolphins were willing to grant HBO the broad access it needs for "Hard Knocks"
It is “easy to understand why the Dolphins, trying to regain fans and national stature," would sign up to appear on HBO’s "Hard Knocks,” but it is not so easy to understand “why would HBO and NFL Films want the Dolphins,” according to David Neal of the MIAMI HERALD. NFL Films Senior Coordinating Producer Ross Ketover said, “This organization is one of the pillars of the NFL and we’re happy to be here on the ground floor when coach (Joe) Philbin brings it back to prominence. Secondly, the Dolphins have a number of really interesting story lines.” He added, “There’s no shortage of things we’ll want to talk about on this series … which we’ll probably throw out after the first week when we discover 50 new story lines.” Ketover also said that the Dolphins “granted the broad access the show needed.” He said, “We talked to a lot of teams. Some were not interested, some were interested with caveats not acceptable to us. We did not offer this to any other team but the Dolphins” (MIAMI HERALD, 5/31). Philbin said, “I am not really sure how it got to be; I wasn't necessarily auditioning for it. But the more I thought about it. ... Let's face it the easy answer is to say, 'No it's a huge distraction.' ... But this program is not based on doing what is easy and we thought that it was in the best interest of the organization at this point in time to do it. So that is what we are doing." ESPN.com’s James Walker wrote the show presents “a unique set of challenges for Miami's coaches.” Philbin and his staff “will be making honest assessments of his own players behind closed doors” and everything “can be brought to the public with HBO granted all-access" (ESPN.com, 5/30).

IS IT A GOOD MOVE? In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes the Dolphins are "flicking a major switch when it comes to inviting HBO's omnipresent Hard Knocks camera crew to training camp this summer," as the team "has been stuck in mockumentary mode for so long that a nice, football-heavy documentary could do wonders for rebuilding the Dolphins' national reputation." It will give the Dolphins "something of an identity again," as even the "mundane process of coaches digging through practice tapes and discussing the progress of borderline players will show that someone at Davie is thinking, and thinking hard, about making this team better" (PALM BEACH POST, 5/31). However, ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb said the move is not a football decision because Owner Stephen Ross “likes stars, he likes attention." Gottlieb: "That’s why he likes to be the one team -- outside of Jacksonville -- that said, ‘Come on in with your cameras.’ Nothing to do with football.” The Miami Herald’s Israel Gutierrez said, “The only way it’s a football decision is if they’re trying to clear up sort of the reputation of Jeff Ireland as a bad GM and the leadership in the Dolphins organization" (“Numbers Never Lie,” ESPN2, 5/30).
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