HBO’s annual NFL circus known as "Hard Knocks" has reportedly found a subject.
Rich Cimini reported the Atlanta Falcons have been offered the starring role for 2012, and if that’s true, HBO is dropping the ball on a massive scale.
Sure, Falcons owner Arthur Blank would love the attention on his franchise, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff is from the Bill Belichick school. Mike Smith is old school. Personally, I would love to see it. I would encourage it.
But the Falcons can’t match the Jets. Owner Woody Johnson would love a second appearance on the famed reality series, but coach Rex Ryan wants none of it. See? Drama!
Starting with Gang Green, let’s take a look at a few candidates for cable stardom.
New York Jets
Frankly — and I know I am in the minority — I would encourage the Jets to do it. I think they should. The Jets know drama. The Jets thrive on drama. The last time they did "Hard Knocks," the team was one game away from representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.
This team doesn’t get distracted by the media. The Jets play in the greatest city in the world. New York is the No. 1 media market in the country. It’s teeming with the best and most aggressive journalists in the country, locally and nationally. The New York Jets won’t be fazed or overwhelmed by having cameras on them 24/7. The Jets knew the scrutiny attached when they traded for Tim Tebow. They smartly did it anyway because he will help them win games.
What gets lost in the shuffle for the Jets is that Rex Ryan is a great coach. Rex shows that on Hard Knocks. For all his curse words, his grand press conferences and his guarantees, Ryan has led the Jets to the AFC title game in two of his three seasons. And even when the Jets collapsed last year, the team still finished 8-8.
Rex Ryan has never been under .500. His staff is superb, ranging from future NFL head coach Mike Pettine to loveable curmudgeon and special-teams savant Mike Westhoff. And Mike Tannenbaum is an excellent general manager.
Yes, the Mark Sanchez/Santonio Holmes/Tim Tebow locker room dynamic would be on center stage, with behind-the-scenes footage. But this is going to dominate the headlines all August long, regardless. Dustin Keller told me on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he would embrace doing the show again, echoing my take that the Jets have nothing to hide and deal with scrutiny daily, anyway.
This is HBO’s dream. Tebow vs. Sanchez. Rex being Rex. Personalities such as Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Nick Mangold and Bart Scott would once again thrive.
The Harbaugh Brothers
This is HBO’s second choice, but I just don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I would love it. The fans would love it. The split coverage would be akin to what the station provided with its brilliant behind-the-scenes look at the NHL’s Flyers and Rangers before the Winter Classic. I could be very wrong, though, but I don’t see the guarded Jim Harbaugh letting the cameras behind the curtain of the 49ers. The Ravens did it with Brian Billick years ago, but I don’t believe John Harbaugh would let HBO inside his training camp.
The Jags confirmed our report yesterday that they did, in fact, reach out to HBO to let them know they wanted to be on "Hard Knocks." The Jaguars are not the top choice of the network because they don’t give the show the desired sizzle on name value.
Look past it.
Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best and most charismatic players in the sport. While Chad Henne vs. Blaine Gabbert isn’t exactly Montana vs. Young, or even Tebow against Sanchez, you have a built-in quarterback controversy.
Shahid Khan is a charismatic, quirky new owner who would become the star of the show.
General manager Gene Smith would be so uncomfortable it would be amazing.
I love the Jags. I root for the Jags. I would buy a ticket to one of their games. HBO doesn’t need a popular team. NFL Films makes every story compelling.