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Official: Bengals subject of HBO's Hard Knocks

The SportsXchange

HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Cincinnati Bengals jointly announced Monday that the Bengals will be the subject of the HBO reality series Hard Knocks this summer.

The show, which closely follows an NFL team during training camp, will make its season debut Aug. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

"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," Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports, said in a statement. "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 are being featured on the show for the second time. They were also followed by HBO cameras in 2009.

"We're thrilled to again work with both the Cincinnati Bengals and HBO Sports," Howard Katz, COO of NFL Films and NFL senior vice president of broadcasting, said in a statement. "In particular, we want to thank Mike Brown for the trust he's shown in NFL Films by allowing us access into Bengals training camp.

"This year's Bengals squad provides us with a compelling combination of unique storylines: a veteran coaching staff, young superstars, high-profile free agents and an intriguing draft class. We can't wait to see what will take place this year and look forward to collaborating with HBO, which has been the perfect partner for us since Hard Knocks debuted 12 seasons ago."

The weekly show will focus on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as the Bengals prepare for the season. It will chronicle 11th-year head coach Marvin Lewis and several Bengals players. Only 13 players were on the roster when the team was featured on Hard Knocks in 2009.

"The feedback we got from our experience with Hard Knocks in 2009 as outstanding," Lewis said in a statement. "Our fans enjoyed it tremendously and we're happy to try and provide that same experience again. Our fans love the NFL and they enjoy seeing things they don't normally get to see. We have some outstanding men, both as players and as people. They've got great charisma to go along with their football skills, and the Hard Knocks treatment allows for both to shine through.

"Some people say, 'Well, you won the division the last time you did this; is that a reason for doing it again?' 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."

Last year's series focused on the Miami Dolphins and averaged 4.1 million viewers per episode. Hard Knocks launched in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens.

This year's season runs through Sept. 3.

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