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Hard Knocks conflicts with Goodell’s desire for “humane” cuts


The HBO and NFL Films series Hard Knocks becomes its most compelling when a player is getting bad news from the coach or the G.M. Whether it’s Chad Johnson being cut by Joe Philbin or Vontae Davis learning from Jeff Ireland that Davis has been traded to the Colts (and asking if he can call his grandmother), the oxymoronic concept of reality TV truly gets real when someone hears something they don’t want to hear in the presence of cameras and microphones.

But as former Patriots V.P. of player personnel and former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli explained on Monday’s PFT Live, plenty of teams don’t want to expose such inherently private and personal moments to the public.

With Commissioner Roger Goodell saying last month that he’d like to see the process of cutting players become more “humane,” it’s fair to ask whether the video and audio of these human moments should be captured and shown on television.

It’s a dilemma for the league office. Omitting these scenes makes the series less interesting. Acknowledging the disconnect highlights that the team inviting HBO and NFL Films to town is willing to expose up to 37 of its up to 90 employees (i.e., 41 percent of the roster) to the embarrassment of being fired on national TV.

The debate flows directly from the unexpected declaration from Goodell that a more feel-good approach should be taken to an exercise that, by definition, will make the player who is released feel bad. Since not much can be done to change the basic outcome of the release of a player, the easiest way to make the process more humane is to not film it and show it to millions of strangers.