Everybody wanted it and it’s finally happening: The Oakland Raiders are going to be on HBO’s Hard Knocks. There have been months of speculation as to which team would appear on the show, but most signs seemed to point to the Raiders. Coaches from other teams that were eligible for the show did their best to hype up the Raiders as the best choice and that seemed to work in their favor.
The Raiders on Hard Knocks seems like a slam dunk on the surface. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock are former TV guys, so they’ll feel right at home in front of the cameras. The roster is also littered with fun and controversial personalities.
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The Expected Stars
The most obvious star of the show will be wide receiver, Antonio Brown. Brown is a headline machine and he’ll continue that while he’s in front of HBO’s cameras. He appears excited to be on the show and he’ll be eager to show off his skills. Brown is always sporting a fun hair cut and has an upbeat demeanor that’s made for the camera.
As exciting as Brown will be, don’t discount Jon Gruden as being the star of the show. Gruden is loud, passionate and borderline crazy and that’ll make for excellent viewing. Just watch some of Gruden’s mic’d up videos and you’ll see why it’ll be hard to turn away.
Gruden spent years as a tv personality at ESPN so he’s no stranger to having a camera follow him around. He’s got a lot of quirks about him. It’ll be a lot of fun to get an in-depth look at his processes on and off the practice field. He said he didn’t want to be on the show, but there’s no doubt he’ll have fun with it.
It’s hard to imagine a show about an NFL team without the team’s quarterback being a big area of focus. Derek Carr is entering his sixth year as the starter for the Raiders and he’s poised to put up some big numbers this year. Carr is a fun personality and a genuinely nice guy. He’s great in front of a camera and he’ll probably put up some highlight throws during practice. Raider Nation loves their quarterback, but don’t be surprised if he gets a few more fans once Hard Knocks comes around.
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs is a pretty soft-spoken guy. He won’t blow people away with his over the top personality. However, his story is too good for Hard Knocks to overlook. If you’re unfamiliar, Jacobs was homeless in middle school and only was able to get a college scholarship after highlights of him playing football in high school went viral. Jacobs’ story has already garnered the interest of “big time producers” who want to make a movie about his life. Hard Knocks could make Jacobs a focal point of the show and get ahead of the story before a movie studio swoops it up.
The Surprise Stars
The Raiders are a team that is flush with personality and it’s not only found in the big stars. There are a few names that you may not have thought you were excited to see on the show, but you should be. One of those names is that of rookie safety, Johnathan Abram. In his short time with the Raiders, Abram has already gotten a reputation as someone who doesn’t keep quiet.
Abram has already made his way to the first-team so he’ll likely get lots of camera time. Not a lot of people outside of Raider Nation are likely super familiar with Abram, but that’ll change once Hard Knocks airs.
Don’t sleep on rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby making some noise during the show’s run. Crosby can rap, he can run and he goes by Mad Maxx. He likely won’t get as much screen time as some of the bigger names, but he’ll probably get at least one memorable moment on the show.
It remains to be seen how involved owner Mark Davis will be with the show, but fans should hope that he makes an appearance from time to time. The bowl-cut sporting red head oozes quirk. Davis feasts at P.F. Changs and still drives a ridiculous 1997 Dodge Caravan. People, the man is worth over 500 million dollars and drive a minivan. If you haven’t read Tim Keown’s piece on Mark Davis for ESPN, do yourself a favor and check it out. The entirety of Hard Knocks should focus on the son of the late Al Davis.
One person who could gain more than anybody from Hard Knocks is the team’s dancing janitor.
Talk about a star in the making. As unexpected as it might be, putting some of the focus on the dancing janitor could be a fun twist and garner the interest of more than just fans of the NFL.