Throughout its run, I’m not sure if there has ever been a team that has been enthusiastic about the ‘opportunity’ of being featured on Hard Knocks. I could be entirely wrong on that—perhaps in the early days, it was viewed as an honor—but at least exposed from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ perspective year after year, it certainly appears to be a burden more than anything else.
As has been talked about a number of times already since the season ended, however, the Steelers may not have a choice. Because they have failed to reach the postseason in two consecutive years, and because they are not making a change at head coach, they do not have the option of making themselves exempt from selection from participation in the NFL’s HBO documentary training camp series.
We have head Mike Tomlin comment on Hard Knocks a few times over the years when it’s been brought up, and he has consistently made it clear that he would not want to do it, though of course he would do so anyway, since it would be required.
Yesterday, Stan Savran asked Art Rooney II about the prospect of being featured on the program. While he earlier said that he more or less had been told to be prepared to play in the Hall of Fame game, he said that there had been “no word on Hard Knocks yet”.
“I know it seems like it’s getting a lot of attention here and it’s one of those things that if we have to do it, we’ll grin and bear it”, he added. “I think if they ask if we’re volunteering for this, we’ll say, no. It’s not necessarily a volunteer-kind of situation anymore as you know”.
Not exactly enthusiastic endorsement for one of the league’s flagship features from one the league’s flagship teams, but you certainly can’t blame an organization for not wanting to participate in an expose on some of their inner workings during a sensitive period of development for the franchise.
Nevertheless, from a fan perspective, I would be quite interested in seeing a Steelers edition of Hard Knocks. To be honest, I’ve never watched the program before, outside of highlights here and there, but if it were in Pittsburgh—actually, Latrobe—you know I would be all over it.
Frankly, I don’t see it as being much of a detriment. It may be a minor distraction, but it’s not as though any meaningful games are being played. I don’t think any team has ever won fewer games in a season because they were on Hard Knocks.