Bengals returning on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this summer
Philadelphia Daily News writer Paul Domowitch first broke the news of the Cincinnati Bengals’ return to Hard Knocks on twitter this Friday, but later deleted that post. Joe Reedy of Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed the initial reports later this weekend.
This will be the Cincinnati Bengals’ second appearance on Hard Knocks, which is entering its 13th season this summer. The Cincinnati Bengals were the centerpiece of Hard Knocks four seasons ago, when they unexpectedly won the AFC North after finishing with a 10-6 record in 2009. Back then, the Cincinnati Bengals were only the second team NFL team to appear on the series and make it to the postseason. The New York Jets too advanced to the AFC Championship Game after being featured on the Hard Knocks’ 2010 season.
But the series has lately struggled to draw interest from NFL teams. Besides the Cincinnati Bengals, there was only one other team that had serious interest in potentially welcoming the Hard Knocks filming crew to their training camp venue this year. While the series is popular with football fans since it gives them inside access to their favorite team and players, it often becomes a headache for coaches and the front office for the exact same reasons.
But Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis must feel confident that he will be able to handle thing since he will make a return to Hard Knocks for a third season. Marvin Lewis made his first appearance on the series as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2001. Although Marvin Lewis recounted his previous experiences on the show as positive, he has given mixed feeling about making a return. Typically, coaches are leery about giving HBO their blessing to be on the show since invasion of cameras could be a distraction and an obstacle towards team building, while the airing of meetings could be a disadvantage to the team’s scheme.
“I think it’s a great thing for your fans and I think they get a great perspective behind the scenes, they really get a look at your football team,” said Marvin Lewis when asked about possibly doing the series again last year, “and if we were doing this (an interview) right now we’d be sitting there and the camera would be on us right now as I’m making this call so it’s really a 24-7 deal. No matter what you do there’s a camera there.”
But the reason why Marvin Lewis and the team brass did the series four years ago could ring true again – he as a young but mature roster and believes that the players will be able to handle the pressure and overcome the distractions. Moreover, it will also give quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, who replace Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson respectively in Cincinnati following the Bengals’ last appearance on Hard Knocks, a chance to get more national recognition.
The Cincinnati Bengals currently have only 13 players on the current roster from their 2009 squad. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and three other assistants with the Cincinnati Bengals will also have their first experience of being followed by camera around the Paul Brown Stadium during training camp.