Raiders owner Mark Davis has made it crystal clear his team doesn't want to be on the HBO show “Hard Knocks.” Ultimately, however, Davis’ desire might not prevent the Silver and Black from appearing on the NFL’s annual training camp documentary series.
The Raiders are among five teams that could be forced to do the show, on a list that includes Washington, the New York Giants, 49ers and Detroit Lions.
Davis’ squad is by far the most interesting team on that list, featuring Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict, Richie Incognito and three first-round draft picks in the mix. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock also have backgrounds in television and know how to give a colorful quote.
It’s also the last year before the Raiders move to Las Vegas, and it’s also possibly the last year training in the picturesque Napa Valley.
So, yeah, there are plenty of reasons the Raiders would be atop the NFL’s list, especially in a year without volunteers. Other eligible teams don’t want it, and have pointed giant neon arrows toward Oakland as the best option.
Detroit head coach Matt Patricia has pushed for the Raiders. Even Jon Gruden’s brother teed the Raiders up, when Washington head coach Jay Gruden said last week the Raiders were an ideal candidate for the show.
NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco has reported a few times the 49ers are eligible but won’t end up as the HBO show’s feature subject.
The NFL still hasn’t announced this Hard Knocks team, a decision that typically becomes public earlier in the offseason calendar but has leaked into June a few times recelty
Despite Davis saying this isn’t the year to do it –- the Raiders might be more inclined after they move into new Las Vegas digs before next season –- the Silver and Black could well be the selection.
In fact, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they are.
There are a few on this Raiders team to have gone through the Hard Knocks experience, including defensive coordinator Paul Guenther while he was with Cincinnati.
Having a documentary film crew around all the time is the chief complaint among coaches and players, but the NFL Films folks try to blend in and give teams control over what’s shown. It may not create an ideal environment, but Guenther says it isn’t a huge distraction.
In fact, there might be some benefit to it.
“I really don’t think [so],” Guenther said. “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.”
Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict also did the show in Cincinnati. He didn’t mind it much, and didn’t believe it was a distraction.
“No, you just come in every day to work,” Burfict said. “Obviously, there are cameras around the building but every day is a work day and just come and get better.”