Since the premiere of “Hard Knocks” back in 2001, there have been a total of 12 NFL teams that have appeared on the HBO show, and this summer, that number will be moving up to 13.
The selection process for “Hard Knocks” consists of three rules, and at some point, the NFL could eventually run out of eligible teams to put on the show, but luckily for the league, that won’t be happening in 2020, and that’s because there are five eligible teams for this year’s version of the ongoing reality show.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Hard Knocks selection process, a team is exempt from the show if any of the three rules below applies to them:
- They have a first-year head coach in place
- They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons
- They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years
For instance, the Giants don’t have to be on the show in 2020 because they’ll have a new head coach. The Bears won’t have to be on the show because they’ve made the playoffs in the past two seasons and the Bengals won’t have to be on the show because they’ve appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years.
When we factor in those three rules and apply them to every team, we’re left with just five teams that the NFL can force to be on Hard Knocks in 2020: The Broncos, Cardinals, Lions, Jaguars and Steelers.
During his season-ending press conference on New Year’s Eve, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was actually asked about the possibility that his team might end up on “Hard Knocks,” and although he didn’t offer any thoughts, he did seem to insinuate that he wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL forced his team to be on the show this year.
Although I don’t have any say in this decision, I think the pick for “Hard Knocks” this year is obvious and it has to be the Steelers. Not only would we get an inside look into how Tomlin runs his team, but we’d also get a front row seat to Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab. The quarterbackin September and still isn’t able to throw a football.
If the NFL decides not to go with the Steelers, the Cardinals would also be an intriguing option as they head into Year 2 with both Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. People might also watch the Cardinals just to see for themselves how handsome Kilff Kingsbury is.
The Lions and Jaguars would also be interesting choices, but that’s mostly because both coaches will go into 2020 on the hot seat and it would give us a chance to second-guess everything they’re doing in practice.
As for the Broncos, they would be a fascinating choice, if only because John Elway might have finally found his quarterback of the future, which means he probably would be more than willing to host “Hard Knocks” so he could tell anyone who will listen about how good of a job he’s been doing. However, my vote still goes with the Steelers, so let’s hope it’s the Steelers.