— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) March 24, 2015
We already know that the Cleveland Browns have been reported to be the “frontrunners” for this season of “Hard Knocks.” Before the Browns are officially named the subject of this coming season (if indeed they are) we have to hear about all the other teams that would rather have their owner’s prostate exam filmed than have a bunch of NFL Films camera people poking around their training camp this summer.
And that’s an understandable stance for those teams. “Hard Knocks” is, for them, at best considered a nuisance that generates humiliating headlines about players and coaches. The league hopes someone will come forward and ask to be on the show but everyone has learned to avoid it. Eventually, the NFL has to compel some loser team that missed the playoffs the last few seasons into being the sacrificial franchise for that year. At this point, either the NFL can accept that no one wants to be the subject of “Hard Knocks” and scrap the series entirely or do something to entice teams.
For instance, offer a compensatory mid-round pick to a team that volunteers to be on the show. Don’t act like a draft pick is so sacrosanct that the NFL can’t offer one up as an inducement. Hell, the league often takes them away for arbitrary reasons. Why not make it so a team can earn one? The way it works now just makes “Hard Knocks” seem like the most depressing thing in the world.
It’s clear something has to change. Every team dreads being on the show and tries its best to distance itself from it. Sooner or later, the NFL will just force a boring and mediocre team like, say, the Falcons to do it. And guess what? It’s not good. Part of the reason for that is because the show is more tightly controlled in recent years than it was in the past. With the draft pick being offered, the NFL can say, “Look, you get this pick, but you have to give NFL Films full access, even to your head coach’s torture dungeon.” For an extra third rounder, there might be a team willing to go through with that.
Otherwise it’s just a tedious offseason storyline that no one enjoys.