The 5 things we need to see on the Raiders' season of 'Hard Knocks'

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The higher-ups at HBO must have been salivating the instant they realized the Oakland Raiders couldn’t turn down an invite to do “Hard Knocks.” Of all 32 NFL teams, no franchise is more better suited for reality television.

HBO — and many NFL fans — got their wish Tuesday. The Raiders are officially confirmed to be on “Hard Knocks” this year.

Now, the production team will have to perform one of the hardest tasks in “Hard Knocks” history: Narrowing down the millions of Raiders storylines to a manageable number.

That’s where we come in. Look, breaking down all the major talking points on the 2019 Raiders is impossible. You could list hundreds if you tried.

We won’t go that far, but we will give the HBO production team the top-five things we need to see on the Raiders’ season of “Hard Knocks.” Because if you’re going to do the Raiders, you have to get it right.

Gruden, AB, Burfict ... basically all the personalities

Let’s be real, this whole list could be filled with player names. We aren’t going to do that. Instead, we’re combining all the personalities into one talking point.

In the front office, you have Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Both men have backgrounds in television, and Gruden is one of the most popular, quotable and entertaining personalities in the game.

On the field, you have Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict, Derek Carr and Richie Incognito. After forcing his way out of Pittsburgh, Brown should be a hot topic. Since Gruden took over, Carr has been subject to rumors about whether he’s really the guy who should lead the team. In Incognito and Burfict, you have two of the most hated players in the NFL.

The personalities aren’t limited to the team, though. The Raiders have one of the most rabid fanbases in the NFL. This is going to be quite an interesting season for Raiders diehards too, because the team is leaving. Speaking of ...

The move to Las Vegas

This will be the Raiders’ final season playing in Oakland. After the year is done, the team will pack up and move to Las Vegas. That should lead to some interesting commentary from those diehard fans.

Dealing with a move isn’t necessarily a recipe for success on “Hard Knocks.” The program followed the Rams during their first year in Los Angeles, and it’s regarded as one of the lesser seasons of the show. Following a team getting ready to leave should be better, or at least provide more fireworks.

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.
Jon Gruden and the Raiders are a recipe for success for "Hard Knocks." (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack and all those draft picks

While Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack no longer play for the Raiders, they are impossible to ignore. Both players were major contributors to the team who posted elite numbers after they were traded away. In Mack’s case, that was expected. For Cooper, he definitely proved a few doubters wrong.

The Raiders would undoubtedly be a better team right now if they had both players, but the team wanted to look to the future. The Raiders selected three players in the first round of the 2019 draft: Johnathan Abram, Clelin Ferrell and Josh Jacobs. Those players will have to prove they can be part of the team’s core moving forward.

It doesn’t stop there, however. Oakland still has a first-round pick and a third-round pick from the Bears in 2020. We may not get a lot of talk about the 2020 NFL draft on “Hard Knocks,” but getting Mayock and Gruden to speak honestly about those trades and draft selections should be interesting.

Marshawn Lynch

As of right now, Marshawn Lynch isn’t on an NFL roster. While Gruden has said the door is open if Lynch wants to come back, the writing may be on the wall for the Oakland native. The team already has Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington on the roster. Add Jacobs to that list, and it’s unclear where Lynch fits.

Even if Lynch doesn’t re-sign with the Raiders, getting him to be a part of the show would be huge. Lynch could explain his Raiders fandom to the production crew. Or take them around places in Oakland that meant a lot to him growing up.

While Lynch only played for the Raiders for two seasons, he’s such an integral part of the local community. Having a “Hard Knocks” season in Oakland without Lynch involved doesn’t feel right.

A Gruden “This Guy” compilation

At the end of every “Hard Knocks” episode — and season — the show provides fans with a quick, fun clip of something entertaining they missed that week. With the Raiders being selected, those fun clips better contain some of Gruden’s best quotes of the week. Or at least a compilation of all the nicknames he gives to players, or all the times he says “this guy” while mic’d up.

If you’re not going to do that, why even put the Raiders on the show in the first place?


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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