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Bears included in a unique slate of ‘Hard Knocks' documentary versions

Bears included in a unique slate of ‘Hard Knocks' documentary versions originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears will be the offseason subject of this season's HBO documentary, "Hard Knocks," the team, NFL and Max announced on Thursday.

This version of "Hard Knocks" is not to be confused with two other versions HBO will run this season.

On May 15, NFL Films and HBO announced "Hard Knocks: Offseason with the New York Giants." This new version of the show will follow the Giants' offseason venture from the end of the 2023 season to the beginning of the summer, presumably highlighting their moves in NFL free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft.

That version of the show will debut on July 2, close to one month away from the premiere of the Bears' version of "Hard Knocks."

Additionally, HBO will run their in-season version of the documentary for a fourth straight season. In the past, like their offseason version, "Hard Knocks" follows one team throughout the regular season.

This season, the documentary will follow an entire division. Considering the Bears have been named the subject of the offseason version, it's unlikely HBO will follow the NFC North. But that's just speculation.

The Bears' appearance on the show this offseason will mark the first in franchise history. The show started in 2001, with gaps in between. But there's no question the Bears' participation stemmed from the NFL's clause in their contract with HBO that can force a team's participation in the documentary.

To force a team to participate, a team must meet these three criteria:

1) The team does not have a new head coach

2) The team has not made the playoffs in the previous two seasons

3) The team hasn't been on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years

Only three teams qualified under the above criteria this offseason: the Broncos, Saints and Bears. The Bears have employed head coach Matt Eberflus for two seasons, they have not made the playoffs since 2020 and this appearance will mark the franchise's first time on the documentary.

The Bears will chosen quite simply because of the teams eligible to be driven into participation, they inarguably carry the most captivating and intriguing storyline. That's why the Bears were ultimately chosen.

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