UPDATE Saturday 23 May, 2015
Conflicting reports have emerged over the past 24hrs since an ESPNCleveland.com report suggested that the NFL had indeed granted the Browns request to be exempt from HBO’s Hard Knocks for 2015, and that the Texans, Redskins, and Bills were the three remaining on the shortlist.
ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim today suggested that a team source had indicated that the Redskins believe they will not be selected;
FWIW: I was told the Redskins did not want to be on Hard Knocks and do not consider themselves possibilities for the HBO show…
— John Keim (@john_keim) May 22, 2015
However, a few hours after Keim’s report, NFL.com senior analyst (and former Dallas Cowboys VP of personnel) Gil Brandt tweeted out the following;
For what its worth I was told by a good friend that the @Redskins will be on Hard Knocks. Take that as you will.
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) May 22, 2015
Following these conflicting reports, Redskins Capital Connection sought a follow up with our original source for the below story.
Our source has this morning told RCC that although Washington remains HBO’s favored option, it appears that the Houston Texans have “acquiesced to pressure” (direct quote) and are going to announce that they will volunteer to appear.
It is unclear who the pressure for the Texans to volunteer was coming from, as our source would not clarify. It is possible that the pressure was coming from the NFL, or it is equally possible that pressure came from Texans owner Bob McNair, eager to drum up support going into a season when his team does not have a quarterback.
For now, our source says that if for whatever reason the Texans change their mind and do not volunteer, it will still be the Redskins whom are selected.
Read the original story from May 13 2015 below:
Source: Redskins are HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ backup plan
HBO’s popular Hard Knocks program is an odd entity; NFL fans seem to love the show, but hate the idea of their team being featured.
Back in 2013, the NFL (who co-produces the show via their NFL Films department) introduced regulations that govern which teams can be forced into appearing. As long as a team does not meet one of three criteria, the NFL and HBO can be select a team to have cameras documenting their every move at training camp. These three criteria are as follows;
- Has made the playoffs in one of the previous two seasons
- Has a new head coach
- Has appeared on Hard Knocks in the last 10 years
This year there are a total of nine teams who are eligible to be forced to appear; Tampa Bay, New York Giants, Jacksonville, St Louis, Houston, Tennessee, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Washington.
There have been reports for a while now that Cleveland were the front runners to be selected, given the intrigue surrounding Johnny Manziel, Josh Gordon, and General Manager Ray Farmer. It appears, however, that the Browns are seeking a special exemption from being eligible, due to the nature of Johnny Manziel’s stint in rehab and his efforts towards recovery from substance abuse addiction:
#Browns Farmer said Manziel coming off rehab "should be taken into consideration'' when NFL chooses Hard Knocks team.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 23, 2015
A trusted source has told Redskins Capital Connection that whilst the Browns do remain the favored choice for HBO, if the NFL grants Cleveland a special exemption, HBO has nominated the Washington Redskins as their second choice.
The Redskins would provide no shortage of interesting story lines for the HBO cameras, and regardless of recent on-field struggles, Quarterback Robert Griffin III remains an enigmatic draw card for football fans. Head Coach Jay Gruden is no stranger to the distractions that come with having the cameras follow you around, having appeared on the show when the Cincinnati Bengals were featured in 2013;
Just yesterday our own Anthony Raposa wrote about five different story lines heading into the Redskins 2015 season, concentrating primarily on gameday and on-field development. Hard Knocks will peek behind the curtains though, and has never been a show that has pulled it’s punches.
With that in mind, here are the five biggest story lines that would likely feature if the Redskins are selected as the 2015 Hard Knocks team as our source confirms is on the cards;
#1 – The Redskins name controversy
Nothing makes for better television than drama, and there is no bigger drama surrounding the Washington Redskins than that of their name. Just this week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) tweeted that “[He] finds it stunning that the NFL cares more about how much air is in a football than it cares about a racist franchise name.”
Given that the Redskins training camp enjoys one of the best fan turnouts in the entire NFL, do not be shocked to see the HBO cameras talking to fans and asking them directly about the issue of the name.
#2 – Robert Griffin III and the birth of his first child
Back in February, Robert Griffin III tweeted out that he and wife Rebecca were expecting their first child. It is actually the last thing he has tweeted, going into a sort of radio silence when it comes to social media. Whilst no firm due date has been announced yet, if we assume that the Griffin’s have followed social norms and waited until the 12 week point to announce the pregnancy, then the due date for birth will be extremely close to the likely scheduled time of training camp in late July.
#3 – Scot McCloughan and his recovery from alcoholism
It is no secret that first year General Manager Scot McCloughan has battled alcohol addiction in his past. Despite being one of the top rated roster managers and talent evaluators in the entire NFL, McCloughan parted ways with his previous teams and spent 2014 living on his farm in rural Washington.
His first draft with the Redskins definitely demonstrated to the league that he was back and he meant business, but as with all recoveries, it remains an ongoing process.
#4 – Bill Callahan and his move from Dallas to Washington
The 2014 Dallas Cowboys enjoyed their best year in recent times, led by NFL rushing yards leader DeMarco Murray behind what was a brilliant offensive line. The Cowboys Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line coach Bill Callahan was poached by the Redskins just one month into McCloughan’s tenure as GM, and will be responsible for the Redskins offensive line as well as being in control of the rushing attack.
Any time a player or coach jumps from one team to another, there are natural story lines that result, such as how they are acclimatizing in their new environment. When you jump between bitter rivals, those story lines are magnified.
#5 – Alfred Morris and his contract year
As noted by Tarik El-Bashir on our podcast this week, as good and loyal a servant as Alfred Morris has been with the Redskins since 2012, it is entirely possible that this will be his last year with the team. Come 2016 he is a free agent, and there are some who question whether Morris is the best fit for the type of roster that McCloughan is looking to build.
Morris, to his continual credit, has done everything asked of him with a fantastic attitude and a desire to compete. He is loved by Redskins fans and his team mates in the locker room alike, and his place with the Redskins will be a fascinating story to watch in 2015.
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