ALAMEDA – Jon Gruden and the Raiders are getting the reality-show treatment.
The Silver and Black will be the subject of the latest season of HBO's "Hard Knocks," the Raiders announced Tuesday.
Hours before the announcement, Gruden appeared to know something the rest of the world didn't when he was asked Tuesday how top Raiders rookies are integrating into his team.
The Raiders head coach gushed about first-round picks Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram and Josh Jacobs, their progress through the offseason program and what’s coming up for them in training camp.
“Who knows, maybe Hard Knocks will come and cover that,” Gruden said. “That’d be awesome, wouldn’t it?”
There was no smile accompanying that out-of-left-field line, only a scowl that never morphed into his disarming eyebrow raise.
It was clear Gruden was less than thrilled, as the decision was made officially official Tuesday afternoon, just as their first minicamp practice ended.
There was no opportunity given to gauge reaction to the news, but most Raiders standing before a microphone this spring were asked about the prospect.
The Silver and Black, after all, were among five teams who could be forced to do NFL Films’ annual training camp documentary show, which airs in weekly installments on HBO. The first episode airs Aug. 6.
The New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Washington and the 49ers were also in the mix, though more than one campaign for the Raiders as feature subject.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden came out strongest for the Raiders iin comments last week.
“I’m not talking to my brother again,” Jon Gruden said.
Jon was joking that time, though Raiders top brass aren’t excited about the prospect. Owner Mark Davis said at the NFL owners meetings in March that “it’s not the right time.”
It would make sense for the Raiders to prefer a 2020 casting, after formally moving to Las Vegas to play in a new stadium and market. Now, the focus will be on the team’s last year in Oakland and quite possibly its final season training in Napa.
The NFL couldn’t pass up showcasing the Raiders this time despite some within the team not wanting it.
“I told (head coach Jon Gruden), if they make us do it I’ll fire you and then hire you right back,” Davis said back in March. “After all, they can’t make you do it with a new coach.”
They are, after all, must-see TV.
The Silver and Black are loaded with big personalities and built-in storylines, with Antonio Brown most prominent among them.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to display my will and show guys what I’m about, no matter who’s here,” Brown said two weeks ago when asked about being featured on the hit HBO show. “Obviously, I’m here to represent the Raiders’ organization and whatever comes with that I’m embracing.”
The Raiders also have Vontaze Burfict and Richie Incognito in-house, with quarterback Derek Carr at strong personality looking for a rebound year. The Raiders also have three first-round picks, with Jacobs and Ferrell making excellent feature subjects.
Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock also have extensive television backgrounds, following prominent media careers before assuming current roles. They’ll both be quote machines, with Gruden’s colorful, not-always-PG-13 discussions in practice now available for use.
Teams have a large say in what makes air, but there will be some drama and big moments in the show for superstars and unknown players alike.
“I think it would be fun,” cornerback Daryl Worley said. “We have a lot of new personalities, new guys on the team. I don’t feel like I would be a star of it just because I’m not that big of a talker or anything, but it’ll definitely be fun.”
Burfict and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther have experience doing the show while with Cincinnati, and neither guy found it overly intrusive.
“I really don’t think [so],” Guenther said last week. “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.”