Why rookie Rome Odunze would prefer Bears not be on ‘Hard Knocks'

Why rookie Rome Odunze would prefer Bears not be on ‘Hard Knocks' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It's happening. The Bears will make their first-ever appearance on HBO's "Hard Knocks" as the 18th team to participate in the documentary.

Before being selected, the Bears made their disinterest in participating in the documentary evident. Both GM Ryan Poles and Chairman George McCaskey made clear they view the documentary as a distraction.

Rookie wide receiver Rome Odunze also joins them in that thinking.

“I think for me, I’d definitely be more comfortable not having the ‘Hard Knocks’ in the building just because we’re all learning the new offense as rookies,” Odunze told Bears Wire earlier this month. “Caleb [Williams] has a lot on his plate already, so learning the offense and growing within the facility and setting a foundation for ourselves. So it would be something that, if it happened, we’d take it and we would go forward with it and do it the best that we could.

"But I think it might be a little bit of a distraction for what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Because of the groundbreaking access "Hard Knocks" earns upon arriving at teams' training camps, most clubs view the documentary as a little intrusive and a definite distraction.

Here's what Poles and McCaskey both said about the documentary before being selected on Thursday.

"In terms of being in favor of it, there are some distractions that come along with it," Poles said on ESPN 1000 on May 4. "But it's one of those things that you learn in this league is that you adjust and adapt to whatever shows up. If it's here, we're rolling with it. If it's not, we'll keep it moving."

“We’re told there is some interest in other teams being on the program and we welcome that interest,” McCaskey said at the NFL Owner's meetings in Orlando in March.

The NFL is well aware of teams' reluctance to appear in the documentary. That's why they have a special clause in their agreement with HBO, giving them the power to force a team into participating.

Here are the criteria:

  • The team hasn't appeared on the documentary in the last 10 years

  • The team does not have a new head coach

  • The team hasn't made the playoffs in either of the last two seasons

The Bears, along with the Saints and Broncos, were the only three teams who qualified under those criteria this offseason. And for the Bears, they have Caleb Williams, two $20 million annual receivers, and a growing defense that helped the team to a 5-1 finish last season, giving them the most attractive storyline of the three.

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