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Volume 27 No. 10
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Raiders' Compelling Storylines Likely Led To "Hard Knocks" Selection

Gruden had previously indicated that he preferred for HBO to not choose the Raiders for "Hard Knocks"
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Gruden had previously indicated that he preferred for HBO to not choose the Raiders for "Hard Knocks"
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Gruden had previously indicated that he preferred for HBO to not choose the Raiders for "Hard Knocks"
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Raiders will be featured on HBO’s "Hard Knocks" this season, as the team has a "wealth of compelling storylines," according to Matt Kawahara of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The series will debut Aug. 6 and run until Sept. 3. The Raiders were one of five teams "ineligible to turn down the show this summer," and they were seen as a "likely target." Top storylines include the arrivals of WR Antonio Brown, "oft-disciplined" LB Vontaze Burfict and OG Richie Incognito, who is "attempting to make the team after a history of off-the-field issues." The Raiders also have a first-year GM in Mike Mayock, who also has a "background in TV, and are preparing for their final season in Oakland before a scheduled move to Las Vegas" in '20. Raiders coach Jon Gruden "seemed to expect the announcement" earlier yesterday. Before the Raiders held the first practice of their mandatory minicamp, Gruden "brought up the show unprompted" while talking about RB Josh Jacobs and the team’s other rookies. Gruden said, "Who knows, maybe ‘Hard Knocks’ will come and cover that. That’d be awesome, wouldn’t it?" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/12).

NOT WHAT THEY WANTED: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio notes Gruden will meet with reporters at roughly 3:30pm ET tomorrow around the team’s mandatory minicamp. Florio: "At that point we’ll get a feel regarding just how mandatory Oakland’s submission to the will of HBO and NFL Films was, because it was clear before word came that the Raiders will be doing Hard Knocks that they didn’t want to do it" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 6/12). In San Jose, Jerry McDonald notes Gruden "hasn’t been keen on the idea of cameras invading the space of his team’s Napa training camp." Raiders Owner Mark Davis "didn’t want 'Hard Knocks', and even joked ... he’d fire Gruden and then rehire him to avoid being on the show" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 6/12). ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said the Raiders will be "loaded with drama." But ESPN's Marcus Spears said this is the "worst damn thing the Raiders could do." Spears said, "There are too many personalities (and) there are too many new guys. ... There will be some drama that comes out of this."("Get Up," ESPN, 6/12). Sporting News tweeted, "Raiders on 'Hard Knocks' will be utter chaos" (TWITTER.com, 6/11).

PERFECT CHOICE: In Detroit, Justin Rogers writes the Raiders were the "most logical choice" for the show. The team's leadership of Gruden and Mayock both have "extensive television experience, while the roster is loaded up with three first-round picks and arguably the NFL's top offseason acquisition" in Brown (DETROIT NEWS, 6/12). NFL Network's Lindsay Rhodes said the Raiders "felt like an obvious choice." NFL Network's Michael Robinson said the team is "made for TV" and "made for 'Hard Knocks.'" NFL Network's Rhett Lewis said the "power dynamic" between Gruden and Mayock is something "we haven't really seen unfold" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/12). THE RINGER's Danny Heifetz wrote it "seemed impossible to top last year’s choice of the 0-16 Browns, but the documentation of this Raiders team will be a gift from the content gods." The number of plot lines for the Raiders "stretches beyond the horizon" (THERINGER.com, 6/11). CBSSPORTS.com's John Breech wrote this edition "could end up being the craziest season of the show ever" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/11). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said Gruden and Mayock "know how to do TV and no one wants to be on TV more" than Brown which makes a "really good combination for entertaining programming" ("Get Up," ESPN, 6/12). NJ.com's Zack Rosenblatt tweeted, "The Raiders organization was created for the sole purpose of being on Hard Knocks." Blue Wire Sports Podcasting's Fallon Smith: "This is going to be fun" (TWITTER.com, 6/11). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said the Raiders are "born to do it," as there are "storylines aplenty" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/12).

SIN CITY SEGMENT: NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote with the Raiders relocating in '20, it will be "interesting to see how thoroughly 'Hard Knocks' hits this angle." Hanzus: "Personally, I'd prefer we don't get the obligatory segment where front office officials travel to Vegas to check in on the progress of new stadium construction -- but this feels like something the Raiders will want to promote. I'd much rather 'Hard Knocks' focus on the loyal Bay Area fans who have stuck with a team they know is leaving them." That is a "special kind of loyalty no fan should have to deal with" (NFL.com, 6/11). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said "Hard Knocks" will be "like a free commercial" for the Raiders' impending move ("Get Up," ESPN, 6/12). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "It's smart as they head into Las Vegas for them to say, 'Okay, we're going to be Cult of Personality Raiders again'" ("The Dan Le Batard Show," ESPN Radio, 6/11).