The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of four teams to remain explicitly in the running to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks this year, and it’s starting to look more and more likely that they’ll be the team featured on that show.
Hard Knocks chronicles one NFL team’s training camp and preseason journey every season, with one episode per week that culminates with the team’s final cuts. There’s always a bunch of drama about which team will get selected every year, which is why the NFL instated a bunch of rules about forcing teams to be on the show.
Those rules aren’t that complicated but, suffice it to say, the Bucs could be forced to go on the show. That’s true for seven other teams, too, but four of those have already said they won’t go on Hard Knocks: no Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns refused. That leaves the Bucs, the Tennessee Titans, the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints.
All of those teams would be intriguing material for the HBO camera’s, but perhaps none more so than the Bucs. Jameis Winston will attract a lot of viewers for various reasons, DeSean Jackson has a bit of a reputation for drama, the Bucs have a few star players, and Doug Martin’s future remains clouded in uncertainty which is sure to play out in front of the camera’s.
Most coaches aren’t too happy with Hard Knocks, for the obvious reason that being filmed throughout training camp does nothing for your team’s ability to win games.
Still, the Bucs, for their part, seem to be okay with this possibility. Dirk Koetter wasn’t dismissive of the possibility when asked this week, telling Jenna Laine of ESPN that he has “no fear of our guys”—presumably no fear of them being negatively affected by the camera’s.
“The NFL is the greatest game in the world. I have no fear of our guys -- there’s gonna be guys who act different with the cameras on,” Koetter said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “Our mission is the still the same, to figure out how to win the division and try to get in the tournament.”
Meanwhile, general manager Jason Licht told JoeBucsFan’s Ira Kaufman that the Bucs’ locker room is mature enough to handle the show.
The Bucs already have some experience with Hard Knocks, indirectly: head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith were featured on the show in 2014, when Koetter was the coordinator and Smith the head coach.
That didn’t end well: Smith was fired after the 2014 season, while Koetter moved on to become the Bucs’ offensive coordinator. It seems that experience isn’t too troubling for them, though.
Hard Knocks has gotten a little stale for me in recent years, but if the Bucs are picked I’ll have to start paying attention again.