HBO's Hard Knocks series will go on indefinitely and not just because it makes for compelling television, but because the league has the authority to mandate that teams be on the show. But there are exemptions, as noted by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora earlier this week. They include teams that:
- Have appeared on the show in the last 10 years;
- Reached the playoffs within two years, or;
- Have a new coach.
During an appearance on SiriusXM Radio, first-year Cardinals coach Bruce Arians called Hard Knocks "a total distraction, and I think it's an embarrassment to players. I think when players are released, some of the things that are said between coaches and players are too personal, and nobody else's business."
The good news: the Cardinals are 3-2 and tied for second in the NFC West. The bad news, they'll still need to earn a wild card spot to avoid finding themselves in the Hard Knocks pool of potential candidates.
Meanwhile, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has decided to embrace the the opportunity should it come knocking.
“If that's something we were in position to do, then we'd certainly do it,” Harbaugh said via the team's web site. …
“There's going to be teams that are going to be on Hard Knocks and that seems like a popular thing and something people want to see. So, I don't see it going away. You could stamp your feet and say I don't want to do it, but I don't know how productive that is for anybody concerned."
Harbaugh says he hasn't been "tempted" to do the show during his tenure in San Francisco, but he did call it "quite entertaining."
So, through five weeks of the NFL season, who are some teams that don't qualify for the exemptions above, making them candidates for Hard Knocks 2014?
Accounting for the 2012 playoff teams, as well as those teams that haven't appears on the show in the last decade leaves the Bills, Browns, Steelers, Jaguars, Chargers, Raiders, Giants, Panthers, Buccaneers and Rams, writes PFT's Michael David Smith.
It's reasonable to expect a few organizations to fire coaches in the offseason, which would bring this list down to seven or eight.
Our early predictions for the next team to be featured on Hard Knocks: The Jaguars (they'll have the No. 1 pick, possibly quarterback Teddy Bridgewater); the Steelers (they're one of the NFL's most popular franchises); and the Giants (assuming, of course, Tom Coughlin doesn't quit in frustration long before then).