Bengals' Unfettered Access Led HBO To Pick Team For Repeat "Hard Knocks" Appearance
HBO and NFL Films formally announced Monday that the Bengals had been selected to appear on the net's "Hard Knocks" series, and NFL Films Senior Coordinating Producer Ross Ketover said that the show will not change how it covers "future player cuts," according to Alex Marvez of FOXSPORTS.com. Ketover said, “How we’re going to handle it is show exactly how they handle it. If it’s kind, we’re going to show it. If it’s harsh, we’re going to show that, too." The Bengals are willing to "provide unfettered access to their training camp." Ketover said that other teams would have "agreed to participate but only if certain protocols such as player cuts weren’t part of the show." Ketover: “For us, it’s all or nothing. What it comes down to is what teams have interesting storylines and which teams give us unlimited access to go wherever we want in their facility" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/18). In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy noted Bengals coach Marvin Lewis believes he has a "young but mature roster and he feels like they can handle it." It also will give QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green "more national recognition" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/15).
INSIDE ACCESS: ESPN's Max Bretos said only one team "other than the Bengals, had expressed serious interest in appearing" on the show. Former NFLer LaDanian Tomlinson said of his appearance on the show with the Jets in '10, "Everything that you see is actually pretty real." Tomlinson: "The only thing, sometimes guys act out of character, even coaches." ESPN's Jason Taylor said the NFL Films crew "does a great job of blending in, they're very professional, they don't really get in your way." Taylor added the cameras are everywhere, so players and coaches "understand they're there, but after the first couple of days guys stop playing up to the cameras and go about their business." Taylor: "It shines a new light on your organization, it lets people see the inside workings of the organization." ESPN's Mark Schlereth said a lot of teams "turn it down because they don't want that exposure, they don't want you to see inside that organization" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 6/17).
PICK & CHOOSE: CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce said, "The Bengals aren't a bad pick. Chad Johnson's gone ... but they have young, humble guys who are willing to work hard that I think can handle the pressure of having their life on TV." LaForce said she would "want to see the Patriots on 'Hard Knocks' because there are so many storylines there with Rob Gronkowski going through all of his surgeries." CBSSN's Doug Gottlieb: "I would prefer the Eagles with Chip Kelly and all their personalities, DeSean Jackson, Mike Vick, or the San Francisco 49ers" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 6/17). Fox analyst Brian Billick, who coached the Ravens when they appeared on the show's premiere season in '01, said, "There are a lot of coaches, obviously, who will say we don't need the kind of distraction that that provides. But they do a pretty good job. After you get past the first day or so, you're not even aware that they're there." He added teams need to have a veteran roster that "understands why you're trying to do it, that can kind of put it at arm's length." The Bengals' experience appearing on the show in '09 is "going to be an advantage for them" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/17).