Hard Knocks was once on life support with the venerable HBO series going inside an NFL training camp unable to find a cooperating partner. Franchises have shied away from the spotlight of Hard Knocks because of the insular nature of the NFL world, treating every piece of team information with the seriousness of government secrets. That’s not a realm that seems amenable to cameras and microphones being everywhere.
However, seeing the critical and fan acclaim for Hard Knocks, the league stepped in and mandated a formula in which the league could select a team to appear if there were no volunteers. And with that formula in place, Roger Goodell says a decision is close to being made on which team will be the subject of 2014′s Hard Knocks. Via the Chicago Sun-Times:
“There were a lot of discussions with clubs at the March meeting [in Orlando, Fla.],” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during the Associated Press Sports Editors meetings in New York on Thursday.
“There are several clubs that are interested in doing this. I just don’t have an update on which club, whether it’s going to be a volunteer or if it’s somebody who is going to have to fulfill the obligation. But I’m sure that decision will be made pretty soon.”
After all the drama surrounding the fact that no NFL club wanted to volunteer for Hard Knocks, it would be a major surprise if somebody suddenly raised their hand. It’s more likely the NFL will have to make that decision for a team, but there isn’t a shortage of interesting options.
Keep in mind the formula the NFL uses to select a team for Hard Knocks. Franchises are exempt if they fall under any of these criteria – appeared on Hard Knocks in the last 10 years, have a new head coach, or made the playoffs in 1 of the previous 2 seasons.
That leaves the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, and Pittsburgh Steelers as the 8 contenders to be picked for this year’s Hard Knocks. Certainly, the NFL would love to jump at a team with a big fanbase like Chicago, New York, or Pittsburgh that may not be eligible under the Hard Knocks rules for some time.