After months of speculation, the Oakland Raiders will appear on the HBO television show Hard Knocks. While head coach Jon Gruden and owner Mark Davis have made it clear that they want nothing to do with the show, there’s little denying the entertainment value of a team that has Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict and Richie Incognito on its roster.
Some have noted that Jon Gruden foreshadowed the announcement ahead of Tuesday’s practice. Speaking with the media, Gruden said “that’d be awesome, wouldn’t it?” when asked about the team potentially making an appearance on the show. There was definitely disdain in his voice and it’s safe to assume that he knew the announcement was coming when he answered the question. He was also asked about his brother, the head coach of the Washington Redskins Jay Gruden, who said the Raiders would be a great choice for Hard Knocks. The Redskins were also eligible, so it looks like they barely missed the cut.
“I’m never talking to my brother again,” said Jon Gruden about Jay.
It was taken as a joke, but there might be more to read there after the recent announcement. Owner Mark Davis is probably the least happy as he said he’d fire his coach and rehire him so that he could avoid an appearance on the show. That being said, there are those in the Raiders organization that have been on teams that were featured on the show and have said it’s not much of a distraction.
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Paul Guenther, the team’s defensive coordinator, who was on the show twice while he was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, had this to say:
“I really don’t think [so]. They do a really good job of staying out of your way. You can see, kind of, what’s going to be on the show. I think the positive thing is you find out a lot about your team and the coaches on the staff that, ‘Hey, when the camera is on you are you going to be a different guy or a different player or if you’re not.’ Because really after the third day, you don’t notice, you’re so used to having them around that you just go about your business. I don’t really pay attention to where the cameras are in the building. You just go about and coach the guys how you know how to coach them and that’s all you know how to do.”
Despite the fact that Gruden and Davis want no part of the show, the Raiders can survive having the cameras around. Since the show first aired in 2001, 6 of 13 teams that were featured finished the season with more wins than they did the previous season.
If you needed an excuse to keep your HBO subscription since Game of Thrones ended, the Raiders make a great one. Not only do you get Jon Gruden and quirky owner Mark Davis, you also get Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict and Richie Incognito. This is must-watch TV and there’s no way around it.
The first episode of the show will air on August 6th at 10PM E.T. on HBO.