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Buccaneers a finalist for Hard Knocks: Welcomed Attention or Big Distraction?

The HBO hit series Hard Knocks may be heading to the Bay Area, but will the attention be welcomed or just cause an unwelcomed distraction

HBO has a short list of NFL teams on the list as possible candidates for the 2017 version of the award-winning show. Scrum NFL writers Steve Campbell and Jaret Rojas  sound off on if they believe Hard Knocks is a good idea, or just a giant distraction.

Welcomed Attention

By: Steve Campbell

Since its inception in 2001, Hard Knocks has been an Emmy award-winning show that gives fans a unique look into the window of a NFL training camp. In the show, HBO profiles a team’s training camp leading up to the regular season.  And that means all of it.

Every meeting, practice, etc. is filmed, then condensed into a show that runs weekly on the network. The series focuses on the personal and professional lives of the players and seems to follow the same pattern every year. A couple of well-known veterans are featured, as well as the first round pick of the team and a couple of fringe/journeyman players who are fighting for a roster spot.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of eight teams that may be picked for the 2017 production of Hard Knocks. The NFL several years ago made a rule where teams could be influenced to appear on the show. Teams are exempt from appearing if they just hired a new coach, made the playoffs in the previous two seasons or appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the previous 10 years.

With the access given to HBO to produce the show, some will worry that the constant camera presence would be a distraction to a young team like the Bucs. The Bucs have a lot of the criteria that could make for an interesting series if they were to be picked…Young charismatic quarterback in Jameis Winston, All-Pro defensive tackle gentle giant Gerald McCoy, and one of the best young offensive players in the game in wide receiver Mike Evans. They also have a couple of candidates for players that are attempting to overcome checkered pasts in Doug Marin and Noah Spence.

If head coach Dirk Koetter doesn’t want his Bucs on the show, he’s doing a good job of bluffing. He recently gave his thoughts about the possibility of being picked at the NFL coach’s breakfast in Phoenix.

“If we get picked, that’s just part of it.” Koetter said. “The NFL is the greatest game in the world. I have no fear. Some of the guys can act a little different on camera. Some of that stuff can get real corny, but our mission is the same. Our missing is to try to win our division and get in the tournament.”

If Koetter didn’t seem awfully confident, GM Jason Licht sure did:

Koetter should know. He was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons when they were featured in the 2014 version of Hard Knocks. Current Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith was the Falcons’ head coach. The Falcons went 6-10 that season, but Koetter and Smith are smart enough to know that a few extra cameras and production assistants running around in July and August had little to do with that.

The Buccaneers could use the national attention, even if it’s just to let the rest of America know what is already known in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers are on the rise.

HBO’s Hard Knocks for the Buccaneers would be a big distraction

By: Jaret Rojas

HBO’s Hard Knocks is looking for a new team for their 13th season of the highly touted reality documentary show. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers name have popped up quite a bit over the past few months and many Bucs’ fans have shared their thoughts on the idea of this actually happening. The Buccaneers were one win away from a playoff berth and for a very young team with a first-year head coach, that’s above expectations.

Quarterback Jameis Winston and the rest of the young nucleus have grown in the NFL around a small amount of media attention compared to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants of the league. I just don’t see how of all the national attention towards the players could result in a positive way.

The argument of ‘these guys are professionals and shouldn’t worry about the distraction’ isn’t valid in this case. Sure, the players are used to playing in front of 60,000+ fans each game on top of the millions watching at home, but this is an in your face documentary-style program, that will quickly make you regret what you say behind the scenes. Remember Antonio Cromartie from the Jets stuttering while naming his children? The listeners never let him live that down.

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith starred in the 2014 season of Hard Knocks as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and saw no success that season, going 6-10 on the year, and ended up getting fired directly after. As of now, no team has volunteered, but if a team doesn’t volunteer, the league can force a team to participate. After all of the rules in place, there are only eight teams the league can force to join at this point, the Bucs are one of them, and they’re one of the most fitting teams as well.

Hopefully the locker room can maintain focus and continue to grow the way they have over the last two seasons.


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