The Oakland Raiders make absolute sense for HBO building a compelling Hard Knocks series. However, that doesn’t mean it is logical for the team’s success to star in the upcoming season.
The Pitch for Hard Knocks
One doesn’t have to look far to find reasons why the Raiders make a great story for HBO’s Hard Knocks. You couldn’t write a fiction pitch that sounds as compelling as the Raiders taking you inside their training camp.
We’ll see Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock’s thirst for soundbytes continue. Due to their media backgrounds and the transition to Vegas looming makes them attractive. If you throw in the new guard under a new regime, a bunch of draft picks from the National Championship game and Incognito’s issues. Not to mention, Antonio Brown versus Vontaze Burfict, A.B.’s tweets, and Derek Carr. On top of that, the debut of two marquee free agents from this last Super Bowl (Lamarcus Joyner and Trent Brown). Lastly, Mark Davis’ peculiar style and oh yeah – let’s not forget Tom Cable or the never ending stadium drama.
Are you sold yet? Moreover, that doesn’t even include the Greatness of the Raiders, the amazingly historic city of Oakland, roster battles across the board, the passion of the Black Hole or any of the good stuff about the Silver and Black.
The Raiders Versus Field
Nonetheless, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is apparently sold as he recently endorsed the Raiders as the logical choice for Hard Knocks in 2019. He publicly said HBO would be crazy not to go to Oakland.
SB Nation gave eight reasons why the Raiders are a slam dunk too. They called it the drama HBO needs after Game of Thrones.
However, that does not mean it is in the best interest of the Raiders. In fact, a recent ProFootballTalk article called for the cancellation of the show since no one wants to do it. Beyond the distraction that comes with a bunch of cameras, they’re are competitive disadvantages to broadcasting coaching. In addition, player and scouting dynamics could suffer. The Browns missed the playoffs last year. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers missed the past two playoffs since being on the show and the Rams missed the playoffs the year they were on the show. It’s also kind of unnecessary with the amount of access players and teams give us, via social media as the article notes.
Still, Oakland and Washington are two of five teams favored for the upcoming season of HBO Hard Knocks. The announcement should happen very soon. The 49ers, Lions, and Giants fill out the other teams that meet the threshold, which the NFL can force them to appear in the show. None of these five teams have first year head coaches, made the playoffs in the past two years or were featured in the series over the past decade.
Reports already ruled out the 49ers. The Giants were 3-to-1 favorites, but even they are reportedly out. Detroit has compared the series to an unwanted dental procedure, highlighted the competitive disadvantages and they still haven’t heard if they’re ruled out.
Again, that points to the Raiders as the favorites. Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier recently wrote an article about how the series would actually help the Raiders by outward exposing potential conflicts, issues and situations before the season starts. Tanier called Hard Knocks an opponent, an opportunity to scrimmage against their worst demons and issues in Camp and a precautionary MRI that could expose deep-rooted issues before they get worse.
Regardless, Hard Knocks will be a full on natural disaster that not even news, insurance companies or gentrification could exploit. It almost feels obscene for HBO to show the amount of carnage that will happen when you surround this much dysfunction with a ton of cameras.
Of course, I don’t make natural disaster metaphors lightly as California is routinely devastated by fire and earthquakes. This along with traffic and car accidents have become natural to our urban metropolis that sit among one of the world’s most magnificent regions and states.
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The point is, there is enough fuel in this fire so let’s not let HBO throw gasoline on it. Haven’t Raiders fans seen enough trama dealing with constant transition and wreckage through 17 years of mediocrity?
Just Say No
Even Mark Davis is smart enough to say he would prefer not to be on the show. He said the timing is not right for HBO’s dream probably because his team is in serious influx already.
It doesn’t matter that his team could use a bump in national exposure ahead of relocation. It’s hard enough keeping the Raiders out of the headlines with their coach and GM thirsty for quotes in the media. Imagine that with the whole world watching via OTT and Sunday night premieres?
Veil of Secrecy
Let’s not forget the Raiders traditionally thrive in secret. Think about our last draft. Many people criticized individual picks as reaches due to the rest of the board. However, when the dust settled many applauded the Raiders for taking highly productive players with high character as a means to overturn their culture. Would those picks have been on the board if everyone saw what the Raiders were thinking?
Not to mention, you know all the reasons most of us identify as Raider Nation might get cut out of the series anyways. Don’t be surprised if our team is framed as the same loudmouth, out of touch organization of outlaws ran by a tyrant.
No one wants to see Gruden overruling Mayock or his coaches. Similarly, no one wants to see Mark Davis’ unique dinner or food choices. No one wants to see Incognito or Cable make anyone cry.
Save us the narrative that Raiders are distraction via Antonio Brown or that we are violent via Vontaze Burfict. Save us questions about overpaying for Brown and Joyner or how this next draft class might bust out too. We get enough of Mayock and Gruden bites as well as Derek Carr’s faith and family on social media and NFL network too.
Not Worth It
Being a Raiders fan is hard enough without having a national audience tune in to laugh at our dysfunction every week.
All this TV reality drama sounds great to someone who is not a Raiders fan, but I’d prefer to not watch my favorite team bleed out on the television. That’s exactly why the Raiders should just say no to HBO and all the culture vultures who want to watch our shit show. Airing our dirty laundry and putting our business isn’t worth the expense.
Even if it makes great TV or the NFL forces the Raiders hand, the Silver and Black should deny starring in the show at all costs. Let’s not pretend the NFL will do us any favors so why should the Raiders?
There’s a long history of the Shield versus the Raiders including disputes over stadium. It’s not the Raiders problem that the NFL and HBO are desperate for a team
To Be Determined
Ultimately, Hard Knocks could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Or, this serves as aftershock further devastating a place already in ruins. The HBO series would only amplify and expose chaos that is already ensuing the Silver and Black.
Sure, adversity never hurt anyone. However, the wheels could fall off the team way earlier than necessary thanks to this added piece of unnecessary drama.
Hard Knocks is the last thing the Raiders or RaiderNation need. Winning should be the Raiders only focus in training camp, not some HBO series that might get cancelled anyways.
Unfortunately, the Raiders don’t always make sense or do the logical decision so it would not surprise me if they do the show and fully embrace it.
Either way, the Silver and Black better win, or this dated HBO series will be the least of their concerns.