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Bears players, coaches reveal experiences with ‘Hard Knocks' as team prepares for debut

Bears players, coaches reveal experiences with ‘Hard Knocks' as team prepares for debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

This August, the Bears organization will host their first "Hard Knocks" appearance for training camp at Halas Hall.

As an organization that hasn't participated before, there will be plenty of "Hard Knocks" rookies getting their first documentary experience under their belts. For others, they've seen and participated in the documentary with other teams.

But all of them are excited about the presence of the cameras.

"Yeah, I think it's going to be exciting just to get guys out there competing," Tremaine Edmunds said. "It shows that we got something brewing here. Everybody wants to see what's going on and just really being yourself out there, not doing too much but just showing up to work and just showing the world what we're about here. The high-level execution that we have."

Head coach Matt Eberflus participated in the documentary in 2021 as the defensive coordinator with the Colts. Back then, he claims to have had a positive experience with the documentary.

For him, as the head coach, his message to his team is simple: be yourself. There's no reason to morph into someone you're not just because cameras are present. He's excited for his players to get their share of the spotlight in the most authentic way.

"I was the defensive coordinator at the time (2021), and really it's the same message," Eberflus said. "We had a real positive attitude about it. We know we had really good people in the building and our message was gonna be, who we are and how we operate. No one changes how they act, no one changes what they do, we just focus on our job and they're gonna have special-interest stories that they do, which I think, some of them are really good. And we have a lot of them here in our building, so I'm excited to see that."

Still, there will be challenges.

Because of the insider access HBO receives upon arrival, they capture some uncomfortable conversations. There are plenty of tough moments through training camp. Whether it's accountability talks, meetings to cut players, etc., "Hard Knocks" doesn't miss a beat.

But Eberflus says the Bears have a plan in place to navigate the documentary.

"You have some hard conversations sometimes in the building, and those have to be done in private," Eberflus said. "What's nice about it is we have a great plan in place for that. Everybody who goes on 'Hard Knocks' has editing rights to what goes in and out and all those things, and that's the standard, but yeah, we have a good plan."

One example of the tough conversations "Hard Knocks" captures included Bears running back D'Andre Swift. When he was with the Lions in 2022, then running backs coach Duce Staley chewed out Swift for not reaching his potential.

MORE: D'Andre Swift recalls unpleasant narrative from previous 'Hard Knocks' experience

Swift was unhappy with the narrative the documentary portrayed. From the show, it appeared Staley and Swift had a jaded relationship. Swift says that was untrue, but he still saw his participation as a positive experience.

"They [Hard Knocks] just tried to portray a different narrative and what it was as far as my relationship with Coach Staley, but it was a cool experience. I'll say like that," Swift said at Halas Hall on Friday.

Travis Smith, the Bears defensive line coach, was on the documentary in 2019 with the then Oakland Raiders. He sees the documentary's presence as an opportunity for the Bears to show off their strong culture.

"It’s really not as much as you think it is," defensive line coach Travis Smith said. "Every once in awhile there will be a boom in your drill and like ‘What in the heck was that?’ Other than that, they do a good job of kind of staying out of the way and then in the meeting rooms that’s all automated cameras. They’re the ones that manually, one guy controls all of them.

"I think it’s a great opportunity for us as a team, as an organization to show who the Chicago Bears are, our culture. And just being a part of it that year, even with the situation that was going on that year, it’s still football, it’s still training camp, it’s still we’re trying to get ready for the season."

Eberflus resonated with the same thinking. He's proud of the culture he's established with the Bears. That's definitely part of the reason Poles retained him as the team's head coach after dismissing most of the offensive staff earlier this offseason, including offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

But how did the players react to the news?

“I think excitement. I think they were excited about it," Eberflus said. "We have a good thing going here. We’ve got a good brotherhood, a good mindset. Obviously, you guys have heard about our culture and how tight we are as a group. That showed at the end of last year. That showed through adversity, and that’s gonna show again this year.”

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