Over 17 seasons of training camp coverage, the HBO/NFL Films Hard Knocks behind-the-scenes series has become a key part of many NFL fans’ routines. Netflix’s Quarterback is much newer, with only one season so far, but its coverage of Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota during the 2022 NFL season drew tremendous attention and prompted executive producer Peyton Manning to confirm that a second season has been greenlit.
But Quarterback may now be running into a problem Hard Knocks has faced for some time. That would be NFL figures’ desire to avoid a media spotlight. And so far, the likes of Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, Dak Prescott, Trevor Lawrence, Sam Howell and Matthew Stafford have turned down the opportunity to be featured on the show.
As host Rich Eisen pointed out on Monday’s edition of The Rich Eisen Show, it appears that the second season of the show is lacking volunteers because these particular quarterbacks don’t want to give off the impression that they’re seeking the said spotlight. At least that’s his impression.
So, Eisen, who had Hard Knocks executive producer Ken Rodgers as a guest on his daily show, wasn’t sure if that was his particular area of jurisdiction but asked for his take nonetheless, considering the unwillingness of teams to willingly participate in the HBO/NFL Films series over the years.
Rodgers admitted he’d been so wrapped up in Hard Knocks that he didn’t know what the status was for a Season 2 of Netflix’s Quarterback. Though, he did offer a message for those who considering doing it.
“I do know when people push back, we have the best argument you can have, which is, Patrick Mahomes did it and he won the Super Bowl, so what are you worried about?” Rodgers said. “I think you can use it or not use it how you want.
Rodgers said that it reminded him of a story when the late Steve Sabol went to first shoot a training camp back in 1968. Sabol was shooting Green Packers camp for one of NFL Films’ highlight films and he had only filmed for a day when legendary coach Vince Lombardi asked him to come back the following day. Sabol said that he couldn’t because he had shot all the film on that particular day.
“Vince said, ‘My team practiced harder today than they have all camp because that camera was running. I want you back tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow,’” Rodgers recalled. “And of course, what’s Steve gonna say? The next day he came and just acted like he was filming with no film in the camera…just so Vince Lombardi could get his team a little more cognizant that eyes were watching. You know what? People are gonna watch this. Are you gonna be slacking off or are you gonna practice hard?”
“That’s what I mean where I think people can use it or not use it in different ways,” he continued. “For the [New York] Jets and I think maybe Quarterback, I’m not sure, but certainly for the Jets, you’re gonna have a season where you will be under the microscope. And if you get to the playoffs —where you want to go—boy, there’s gonna be a lot of cameras.
“So I think what they’re doing is sort of embracing that and saying, ‘OK. That’s what it’s gonna be? Let’s get to it. Let’s get to those couple extra cameras at practice because we’re gonna need to learn how to operate whether there’s film in the camera or not, whether people are watching or not. We need to always feel like we’re operating at our best.’ I think of Vince Lombardi all the time when I think about that.”
For better or worse, Netflix won’t be able to force quarterbacks to do the show, like HBO/NFL Films can force an NFL team if they don’t meet certain criteria to be exempt from participating in Hard Knocks. Perhaps the message that Rodgers shared above will resonate with quarterbacks around the league, but the better selling point may be that Mahomes won a Super Bowl whilst doing the show.