I am a big fan of HBO’s Hard Knocks and look forward to getting an inside look at training camp every year. Anyone who had watched the Dallas Cowboy’s season of Hard Knocks wasn’t surprised to see Danny Amendola lead the St. Louis Rams in receiving yards last year. In fact, we were all anxiously waiting for him to finally get his opportunity. I had mixed feelings when ESPN posted this poll showing that football fans wanted to see the Detroit Lions as the star of this season’s show. There are plenty of interesting storylines as the team is one of the youngest in the NFL and has the potential to shock those that think the Lions will continue to suck for the rest of eternity. Which could be just until tomorrow, depending on what you believe.
The past two teams to accept HBO’s offer and allow their training camp to be overrun with camera crews have actually had a decent amount of success. In 2009, the Cincinnati Bengals were coming off a 4-11-1 record before becoming the star of Hard Knocks. The Bengals were a perfect choice because they’ll always have some story as long as Chad Johnson Ochocinco Johnson is on the team. What was the most surprising was that after being on Hard Knocks, the Bengals immediately made an impressive 10-6 run through the regular season, winning their division and making the playoffs. In 2010, Rex Ryan’s New York Jets got their turn to be the stars coming off an AFC Championship appearance. What did they do after their appearance on HBO? Only made it to the AFC Championship again. Being the star of Hard Knocks is the opposite of the Madden Curse.
So as a Detroit Lions fan, I should be excited that the Lions were in the running for Hard Knocks, right? Wrong. Notice that I said, “were in the running.” Head coach Jim Schwartz shot down the idea and many of the players backed that decision. It’s a distraction. A team like the Jets can pull if off because Rex Ryan feeds on attention. And if you’ve seen him lately you can tell he gets a lot of attention. Jim Schwartz isn’t like Rex. This is a big year for him. He needs to start showing significant improvement and camera crews interfering with his training camp would only make his job more difficult. Plus, I like the Lions flying under the radar. That way, if we do have football before the world ends, they’ll surprise everyone.