It's probably not a coincidence that the NFL team that gives the most chances to troublemaking players is also more than happy to take part in quasi-controversial HBO reality series Hard Knocks. The Cincinnati Bengals signed on to be featured on this summer's edition of the show, which often reveals at least a few locker-room warts on an annual basis.
But it's the second time in half a decade Cincinnati has volunteered to take part. The Dallas Cowboys are the only other NFL team that has participated in the process more than once. Does one of the league's least popular teams just want to make headlines or do the Bengals think there's something more to be gained here?
Cincinnati actually had a great season the last time it was featured on the program. They won only four games in 2008, brought HBO's cameras in during the summer of 2009 and went on to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record that season. It certainly doesn't seem as though any harm was done, and the publicity is always a nice bonus.
Interestingly, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis also thinks his guys might be capable of learning a thing or two from the production crew.
“The NFL Films people are totally professional,” Lewis said in the press release this week, per Pro Football Talk. “One thing I did see as a positive last time was exposing our players to another group of people who are working hard every day the way we need to work. The diligence and the effort of the people on-site is very impressive.”
That makes sense. Because they're rich and famous, it's easy to forget how young most of these guys are. Having to essentially share your office with regular, hard-working people could very well rub off, so maybe Lewis is on to something.
A lot has been made of a so-called Hard Knocks Curse, but that's been blown out of proportion. The Ravens and Chiefs took steps backwards during their Hard Knocks seasons, but the Bengals, Jets and Jaguars improved, record-wise. The 2002 Cowboys were never any good anyway, and the 2008 Cowboys still finished with a winning record.
The point is that Hard Knocks shouldn't be capable of hurting your team. And if it can, then you've gotten bigger problems on your hands.