Bears are eligible for Hard Knocks series for second consecutive offseason

Bears are eligible for Hard Knocks series for second consecutive offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

For a second consecutive season, the Bears can be cast in the 2024 offseason edition of "Hard Knocks."

In case you forgot, teams that qualify for these stipulations are exempt from having to do the show: (1) they have a new head coach; (2) they’ve done it within the past 10 years; and (3) they’ve been to the playoffs in any of the prior two seasons.

Along with the Bears, two other teams are eligible: the New Orleans Saints and the Denver Broncos. Here's why the other two teams are made available for the show.

The Saints have employed head coach Dennis Smith for two seasons; they haven't made the playoffs since 2020; the Saints have never appeared on the show. The Broncos have one season under head coach Sean Payton; they haven't made the playoffs since they won the Super Bowl in 2015 (yikes); the Broncos have never been on the show.

For the Bears, it's the same. The Bears announced this offseason that they are sticking with head coach Matt Eberflus for a third season; they haven't made the playoffs since 2020; and they're never been featured on the show.

The Arizona Cardinals technically qualify, too, for the documentary. Head coach Jonathan Glennon just finished his first season; the Cardinals haven't made the playoffs since 2021 (three seasons ago). But their in-season appearance on the documentary in 2022 precludes them from participating again this offseason.

The only way conceivable way any of those teams will be deemed ineligible is if they fire their current head coach in favor of a new one, qualifying them for the first exemption. Would the Bears flip the switch on their decision to retain Eberlfus if Hard Knocks comes calling? Just kidding, but one can dream.

Either way, the Bears aren't out of the woods. Usually, NFL teams have zero interest in participating in the show. Most coaches believe it's a distraction to the team and would rather not participate. Teams are allowed to volunteer, but no one usually does.

The league, however, exercises those aforementioned stipulations to force eligible teams into participating in the show if necessary. The Bears could've been forced into the documentary last offseason. But the NFL opted to follow Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets.

This season, the Bears' story competes against those of the mundane and stagnant New Orleans Saints and the resurging Denver Broncos post-2022 atrocity. Can the Bears compete with that?

Let it be known that last season the Bears themselves made it clear they have zero interest in participating.

“We feel there are a number of teams that have compelling stories to tell on ‘Hard Knocks,’” Bears chairman George McCaskey said in March 2023.

Does that include the Bears?

“Thirty-one others," McCaskey said then.

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