After a weekend of speculation, it's now official: The Bengals will be featured on HBO's 2013 version of Hard Knocks, the network announced on Monday morning.
The latest season will kick off on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 10 p.m. ET and continue each Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET until the series finale Sept. 3.
“We are delighted that Hard Knocks will be returning this summer and excited for our return to the AFC North and the Cincinnati Bengals franchise," Ken Hershman, President of HBO Sports, said in a release. “With playoff appearances three of the past four seasons, the Bengals have built a terrific young team, and we are extremely grateful to both Coach Marvin Lewis and the entire organization for agreeing to participate.
"The series has become captivating television with appeal far beyond the hardcore football fan. Hard Knocks is a cornerstone franchise at HBO Sports."
Hershman's correct: Hard Knocks is must-see-television for any football fan. It's also great television for casual fans, as it provides a nice window into the lives of lesser-known players and can help personalize the NFL experience for people who watch.
What'll be interesting to see is how the Bengals do on their second go-round with HBO. Cincinnati was featured on the 2009 show, and it was popular, says Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.
"The feedback we got from our experience with Hard Knocks in 2009 was outstanding,” Lewis said. "Our fans enjoyed it tremendously and we're happy to try and provide that same experience again. Our fans love the NFL, and they enjoy seeing things they don't normally get to see. We have some outstanding men, both as players and as people.
"They've got great charisma to go along with their football skills, and the Hard Knocks treatment allows for both to shine through."
This squad does have some good guys to follow. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard and Andrew Hawkins should provide some entertainment on offense. Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson and Leon Hall lead the way for a quietly star-studded defense. Don't sleep on James Harrison stealing a lot of camera time either.
It's crazy to think just how different this team is from the last iteration of the Bengals on Hard Knocks too. That unit had a few of the same players, but the core on offense was Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Chad Johnson and Laveranues Coles. Think about that for a second.
The Bengals have a stacked depth chart on offense and defense this year. The last time they were featured on the HBO show, they won the division. You can bet they're hoping for similar results in 2013.
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