HBO’s Hard Knocks has become one of television’s best reality programs for football fans, and with good reason. With its all-access, behind-the-curtain look at life in the NFL, Hard Knocks is filled with human stories, drama and compelling storylines. If you’re a football fan, it really is fantastic must-see TV.
That said, the Oakland Raiders should absolutely resist any and all attempts to compel them to appear on it.
The Raiders certainly do have some of the most compelling storylines in the league this season: can Matt Schaub bounce back after a disastrous 2013? Does Maurice Jones-Drew have anything left in the tank? Will rookie standout Derek Carr be able to overtake Schaub on the depth chart? How is Khalil Mack adjusting to the NFL? Can veteran castoffs like Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, and Tarrell Brown rejuvenate and put some long-missing bite into the Raiders defense this year? Is this really going to be Charles Woodson‘s last dance?
Well, these storylines are also the same things that should make the Raiders avoid Hard Knocks. Some have made the argument that appearing on Hard Knocks would give owner Mark Davis the chance to showcase his team, and to give him a platform to pressure the city of Oakland into helping him build a new stadium. Some believe that the national attention that comes with being featured on the program can only benefit the team.
But that attention, and having cameras in everybody’s face 24/7 in such a critical season for the franchise, could actually do more harm than good.
This is a critical time for the franchise in the post-Al Davis era. This is the the first time since his passing that the Raiders will be able to field a truly competitive team, one with some expectations and some real potential. GM Reggie McKenzie has done a fantastic job of putting together a roster that is flush with leadership and talent – the first such roster in head coach Dennis Allen‘s tenure.
And let’s not forget, some players are fighting for redemption, while their coach and GM are both fighting for their jobs. They can’t, at such an important moment for the organization, afford the distractions that Hard Knocks will inevitably bring.
Despite what some have argued, simply being a part of the show will not pressure or persuade the city of Oakland to chip in for a new stadium. However, a winning team, one that generates jobs and millions in revenue, absolutely will. It would be harder for the powers that be in Oakland to resist partnering with the Raiders if the team wins and makes them a ton of money in the process.
As for the argument that showcasing the Raiders on Hard Knocks is the best way for Davis to step out of his father’s shadow and honor his legacy — there is actually no better way for him to do that than by returning the “Commitment to Excellence” to the Raiders and bringing the franchise his father built back to glory – all while doing it in his own way.
Davis has an opportunity to put his own stamp on his father’s legendary team; he has a chance to show the world that he can restore the luster to the once-proud franchise, and he doesn’t need to appear on Hard Knocks to do that.