HBO’s Hard Knocks has become a staple of the NFL preseason as HBO’s cameras embed with a franchise through training camp and the preseason to offer viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of whittling the roster down to 53 players, as well as position battles for starting spots.
Being on Hard Knocks isn’t exactly a badge of honor as the NFL recently put in rules for what franchises aren’t allowed to turn down HBO if they are selected. Franchises with a first-year head coach, teams that have made the playoffs in the last two years, and teams that have been on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years are all able to say no. The rest, are put into the pool for HBO to pick.
This year that left the 49ers, Broncos, Browns, Chargers, Ravens, and Redskins as eligible teams for HBO’s perusal and the premium cable network has apparently made their decision. According to Kyle Kelly of The Browns Wire, the Cleveland Browns are HBO’s pick in what comes as a little surprise.
The Browns are, if nothing else, a fascinating team to cover in training camp and the preseason this year as they will feature the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, pending trades. Even if they make a deal for one of those picks, there figures to be some kind of quarterback competition between Tyrod Taylor and the rookie of Cleveland’s choosing and they’ll have two more prominent rookies as well given a trade up for the top pick or the No. 4 pick will likely require a pair of first rounders as a base.
Cleveland’s history as a franchise since returning to the NFL in 1999 is, well, terrible and after a 0-16 season, things can’t go much worse. That said, HBO’s cameras will likely catch plenty of moments of dysfunction because that’s the Browns natural state and fans of non-Cleveland teams will probably get a chance to feel better about their team by watching. That said, there is some actual optimism in Cleveland about this year’s team so Browns fans will be watching with hopeful optimism that this year’s team will be different.
Or if they take Josh Allen at No. 1 it will become a great chance for Browns fans to hate-watch as he sails passes over the heads of receivers in practice. Either way, it’s a win for HBO.
Update: The Browns will indeed be the selection, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which means the Baker Mayfield show will officially have a home on your TVs this fall.