Last summer, HBO and NFL films had a very difficult time finding an NFL team that was willing to let film crews into their facility to document training camp for the popular "Hard Knocks" series. The Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins passed on the series before the Miami Dolphins and first-year head coach Joe Philbin agreed to be the featured franchise.
Finding a subject 2013 was easier as HBO and NFL Films announced on Monday that the Cincinnati Bengals will appear on "Hard Knocks" for the second time in the last five years.
"We are delighted that Hard Knocks will be returning this summer and excited for our return to the AFC Central and the Cincinnati Bengals franchise," said Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports. "With playoff appearances three of the past four seasons, the Bengals have built a terrific young team and we are extremely grateful to both Coach Marvin Lewis and the entire organization for agreeing to participate. The series has become captivating television with appeal far beyond the hardcore football fan. Hard Knocks is a cornerstone franchise at HBO Sports."
The Bengals won the AFC North after appearing on "Hard Knocks" prior to the 2009 season, but that was not a factor in the team's decision to let camera crews document their training camp.
"Some people say, 'Well, you won the division the last time you did this; is that a reason for doing it again?'," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "I really don't think that matters or figures much into the decision. Every day, every time is a new experience. As coaches and players, we just go into it knowing we have to do our jobs to the utmost. We have a grueling schedule, and expectations are very high, particularly among ourselves.
"We've got to take a workmanlike attitude from the very start. Hard Knocks is another element you have to be prepared to deal with. The NFL Films people are totally professional, so that's not a worry, but it's not like a normal day. One thing I did see as a positive last time was exposing our players to another group of people who are working hard every day the way we need to work. The diligence and the effort of the people on-site is very impressive."
News that the Bengals were the team to appear on this year's edition of "Hard Knocks" was first tweeted by Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News on Friday. That tweet quickly disappeared, but Domowitch is close enough to the Mt. Laurel, New Jersey-based NFL Films for his report to have the utmost of credibility. Confirmation would come later on Friday evening from Joe Reedy, who provides blanket coverage of the Bengals for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Reedy reported that official announcement was "likely to happen" next week.
Less than 72 hours later, that announcement has been made. The first episode of "Hard Knocks" will premier on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 10 p.m. ET and the finale will be broadcast on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
A few of the highlights from the Bengals' first turn on "Hard Knocks" was Chad Ochocinco's colorful interviews and the Bengals attempts to sign first-round pick Andre Smith, who would miss most of training camp while his (now former) agent attempted to work out a suitable contract. Smith could be an early storyline in 2013, as well. The fifth-year right tackle was re-signed to a three-year, $18 million contract in April, but Smith skipped the team's OTAs and was a no-show for this week's mandatory three-day minicamp, which cost him $66,150 in fines as well as a $100,000 workout bonus. Another potential storyline is Adam Jones, who found himself in trouble with the law once again after being arrested following an incident at a Cincinnati bar where he allegedly slapped a woman who may have thrown a drink on him after he refused to take a picture with her.
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