It’s A “Hard Knocks” Life

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With HBO’s announcement on Tuesday that the 2019 Oakland Raiders would be the featured team on the upcoming season of Hard Knocks, the question was answered as to who the NFL had thrown under the bus this year.  The series will debut August 6th and run until September 3rd.

With the always quotable Jon Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock both having successful television backgrounds, an interesting aspect will be to see how tight-lipped they will try and remain when it comes to personnel decisions and running an NFL franchise.

The addition of Antonio Brown this off-season will surely be a central theme throughout the show.  Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, rookie RB Josh Jacobs, offensive lineman Rickie Incognito and QB David Carr should also provide some interesting plot lines.

The strength of a production like Hard Knocks is the access to various team areas that even the local press who cover NFL teams usually don’t have access to.  There are the spontaneous player interactions in the training room.  The dialogue between coaches who are constantly evaluating players as the roster begins to take shape.  From 90+ players usually invited to training camp to the 53 players who will make up the opening day roster. Those who watch the show are treated to content that they usually can not see.

Bucs 2017 Hard Knocks

When the Buccaneers were featured on the show in 2017, Tampa Bay fans were treated to an inside look at stories that were happening “real time” in training camp, but from a perspective that they usually don’t get to see.

There was head coach Dirk Koetter telling Jameis Winston, “you’ve always been a risk taker, even if it got you in trouble earlier in a game.” There was Gerald McCoy’s sweet man cave at his Tampa Bay home, featuring his love of Batman (not former Buccaneer linebacker Richard “Batman” Woods, but the comic book crusader).  We also saw when it was announced that Jon Gruden would inducted into the Buccaneer Ring of Honor where he stated, “I don’t see myself coaching anytime soon, but I do like getting as close to the fire as possible.”  Guess we know just how close to the fire he likes to be.

There are also chances during a production like Hard Knocks where if you read between the lines, there are things to be discovered.  For instance, looking back on the Buccaneers time of the show, one could have seen the writing on the wall for the Winston to DeSean Jackson connection.  Buccaneer fans watched for any indication of how the chemistry would work between these two and it felt like producers of the show had to scour hours of tape just to find any.  Also obvious from the show was that free agent defensive lineman Chris Baker, who had been signed to play next to Gerald McCoy, had a good sense of humor but was lacking in the motivation department.  Even missed field goals were a theme that haunted the Buccaneer through hard knocks and would last the entire season.

Hard Knocks Focus’ On Last Season In Oakland

The Raiders are playing their 25th and final season in Oakland before moving into their new digs in Las Vegas.  It should be interesting to see how the crew of Hard Knocks will cover the passionate Raiders fans who are saying goodbye to their team.  There many reasons to look forward to the 2019 Hard Knocks series, not the least of them being the start of the football season.

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