After missing out on the two big free-agent quarterbacks of 2012, the Miami Dolphins have agreed to take on the show no other NFL team seemed to want.
It was announced Tuesday that the Dolphins will allow HBO's "Hard Knocks" to film them through the preseason. HBO had a heck of a time getting any team to accept their invitations this season -- at various times, the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks have rebuffed HBO's advances. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only team known to make a public offer of interest, but HBO eventually went with another Florida team. The first episode will air on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
"On the 40th anniversary of the greatest season in NFL history — Don Shula's perfect '72 Dolphins — it is perfectly fitting that 'Hard Knocks' is heading to Miami to capture the start of a new era for one of the league's proudest teams," NFL Films president Steve Sabol said. "After Hard Knocks' hiatus last summer, I know our team at NFL Films can't wait to get back on the field."
It's an interesting decision for a franchise that has taken more than its share of lumps this offseason, especially when trying to acquire a new quarterback. After Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn went elsewhere, the Fins selected Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick -- and now, Tannehill will get to grow up in front of the cameras.
Of course, conventional wisdom will say that this is more of an entertainment decision than a football one, especially given team owner Stephen Ross' interests in that direction. But the Dolphins will no doubt spin this as a football move -- in fact, they're already doing so.
"We are looking forward to connecting with our many fans across the country as the program chronicles our 2012 training camp," head coach Joe Philbin said in the press release announcing the decision. "The series will highlight the outstanding men who comprise our team and represent our organization admirably, both on and off the field, as they compete for a coveted position on our roster.
"All the decisions that have been made this offseason have had one guiding principle — will it help our players and organization reach its full potential? This one is no different. We are convinced that our affiliation with NFL Films and HBO will allow football fans everywhere an opportunity to comprehend the significant sacrifices and demands that our players endure each day along their journey in training camp as a Miami Dolphin. We eagerly await the opening of training camp on July 26 and the 2012 NFL regular season that lies ahead of us."
There are certainly some interesting storylines to capture, though Philbin is no Rex Ryan in the personality/profanity department. The Fins' three-way quarterback battle, with Tannehill, Matt Moore and David Garrard in tow, will get a lot of airtime. You can expect there to be some talk about Reggie Bush's off-field "endeavors," as well as the involvement, to a greater or lesser degree, of minority team owners like Jennifer Lopez. Embattled GM Jeff Ireland has had ticked-off fans protesting his continued employment outside team facilities, but we doubt there would be much facetime there.
One thing we may find out about the Dolphins through this show is just who's driving the plane. Is Philbin the main man with Ireland controlling personnel? Or will the cameras prompt Ross to channel his inner Jerry Jones, and photobomb every coaching session and personnel meeting? With "Hard Knocks," it's generally the unscripted stuff that draws the most interest.
As to the lack of interest among other teams, there's some speculation that Bountygate has taken the shine off of being filmed all the time. But when I asked Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll about it last week, he cited concerns regarding team focus.
"It's nice that they asked us and that they want to see what we're doing and what we're all about, and I think we would make a fantastic show, but that's not what we're here to do," he said. "Some guys see it otherwise. We're here to win football games and we're here to do things right and we don't need to be concerned about that kind of stuff. I think that's a distraction to our purpose. It's an awesome show. I like watching it, too. I just want to see someone else's team."
So, at least Pete will be tuning in. That's one!
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