Will Hard Knocks Really Be That Big of a Distraction for the Raiders?

Oakland Raiders Antonio Brown Tyrell Williams

Getty Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden

HBO’s tv show Hard Knocks has been a mainstay of the NFL since 2001. Almost each year a team is chosen to be featured on the show during their training camp in the summer. The only way a team can avoid being on the show is if they have a first-year head coach, they have had a playoff berth in the past two seasons or they have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years.

The Oakland Raiders are one of five teams that are eligible to appear on the show this year and, if selected, would be their first time being featured.  The New York Giants, San Fransico 49ers, Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions are the other four teams that meet the same criteria as the Raiders.

Nobody Wants Any Part of Hard Knocks

Despite the obvious publicity that an appearance on the show would bring, high-ranking members from almost every eligible organization have made it clear that they don’t want any involvement with the show.

There is a perceived distraction for teams that appear on the show. Having large camera crews following many people in the organization around is seen as less than ideal. In the Raiders case, as entertaining as they would be, it is understandable why they’d like to avoid an appearance. They’ve faced scrutiny for some of their moves in the offseason and if any of them blow up in their face, it would likely be preferable that HBO wasn’t there to catch it on camera.

Though, there’s no denying it would be good TV. Many people are hankering to see what it’s like to have Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict all on the same team.

Luckily for eager views, it’s not up to Mark Davis whether or not the Raiders appear on the show.

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Distraction Factor is Overblown

Oakland Raiders OR Cleveland Browns – Which team would you rather watch on "Hard Knocks"?#NFLGoodMorningFootball #goodmorningfootball #gmfb2019-03-28T14:02:55.000Z

Even though the Raiders owner seems very opposed to appearing on Hard Knocks, there are a few in the Raiders organization that have appeared on the show in the past and say that it’s actually not much of a distraction at all.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, 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.”

The Cincinnati Bengals improved their record the following seasons each time they appeared on Hard Knocks, so it definitely seems to not make much of a difference to a team.

New Raider linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who also appeared on the show with Guenther, decided to chime in, as well:

“No, you just come in every day to work. Obviously, there are cameras around the building but every day is a work day and just come and get better.”

It’s promising to hear that the distraction the show brings is minimal. Look for an announcement on which team will appear in the coming weeks.

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