HBO approached the Cleveland Browns about being the subject of this year's "Hard Knocks," not even knowing that the most talked-about player of this spring and summer would be joining the team.
Coach Mike Pettine, who is in his first year with the Browns, said no to "Hard Knocks," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. That came before the draft. Just imagine the ratings had HBO already locked in the Browns and then chose rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Pettine told the Plain Dealer that he wasn't sure if HBO asked the Browns again after they drafted Manziel, but the answer apparently would remain no. The reasons for Pettine turning down the show were sound.
"It was for the same reason we didn't feel super comfortable having a camera in the draft room," Pettine told the Plain Dealer. "Let's get through the first time, let's get through the first year."
There's a reason the NFL allows exemptions for teams with first-year coaches if there are no volunteers and the league has to pick a team. The term "distractions" is used way too often (seriously, NFL players and coaches aren't that fragile) but managing life as a new coach with a camera crew in all your meetings might be a bother.
It's early June and there's still no word on who will be the "Hard Knocks" team. Either the NFL and HBO are picking among multiple volunteers (unlikely), there is one volunteer and everyone has kept it quiet perhaps to heighten interest (possible), the league is still hoping a volunteer emerges (doubt it), or the NFL is figuring out how to force a reality show on a team that doesn't want it. There are 24 teams that have at least one of the exemptions and can't be forcibly picked to do the show, so the eight possible candidates that can be selected to do the show whether they want to or not are the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams. It will be interesting to see if one of those teams has to do it because nobody else wanted to.
The show, which follows a team around in training camp and is popular among fans because it's a great inside look at NFL life, is not as popular among teams it seems. Well, teams might love the show, as long as they aren't the subject.
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