Recent news has the Buccaneers turning down an HBO offer to televise their training camp on their vaunted “Hard Knocks” series. The move turned more than a few heads and split consensus on whether or not this was a good move for Tampa. I have to be honest, I’m split too because the fan in me wants to see the Bucs get this kind of coverage, but at the same time the Bucs clearly made the smart choice by putting their football goals ahead of their desire for easy PR.
Raheem Morris is absolutely made for television and I could only imagine how enjoyable listening to him talk about football for a season of Hard Knocks would be. But at the end of the day, Morris reached out to his mentors, coach Tony Dungy and Herm Edwards (who coached the Chiefs through Hard Knocks in ’07) and both mentioned the unforeseen negative impact that the series can take on a team.
They’re right too, the Bucs are young enough with enough of their own distractions. The cameras only add more. Players will pay attention to the camera crews, play to the cameras and at times, according to Edwards, may even become distracted with how much or how little they are being shown on the series. None of that is going to add focus or dedication to installing plays, lifting weights or preparing for the season.
The Bucs are situated right on the door step of the NFL’s top tier of teams. They aren’t there yet but they can smell it. Nothing can get in the way of getting to the top of that NFL mountain, and asking the league’s youngest team to handle the NFL Films crews taping their every move in addition to going through an incredibly important camp is not smart.
For starters, this will undoubtedly be an abbreviated training period. The Bucs are already at a disadvantage, being as though they will have missed OTA’s and mini-camps. Veterans can forego though, young players need them. That makes training camp even more important and anything that distracts attention from the business at hand is not going to help the Bucs.
Not to mention the Bucs haven’t exactly had a quiet off-season, HBO and NFL Films aren’t going to leave that alone either. Just like the Jets issues with Darrelle Revis’ contract were exacerbated by the publicity that came with addressing it on Hard Knocks, the Bucs off-the-field issues will be given even more attention nationally if the Bucs were to go on Hard Knocks.
It’s not fun for fans, but the Bucs made the right choice to say no thank you. The Bucs need to focus on themselves, let HBO go over-hype the Lions or something.