For the first time in its 14-season existence, the “Hard Knocks” reality series will focus on two teams in training camp. Both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers will be the subject of the next season of “Hard Knocks” on HBO.
The Rams and Chargers both missed the playoffs last season, but were both in the postseason two years ago with the Rams going all the way to Super Bowl 53.
In the past, the producers at “Hard Knocks” agreed with the NFL on certain stipulations when selecting teams. Only teams that hadn’t made the playoffs in the previous two seasons and that didn’t have a rookie head coach were selected, so long as they hadn’t appeared on “Hard Knocks” in the previous decade.
In the case of the Rams and Chargers this season, things have changed. Both teams qualified for the postseason two years ago, and the Rams appeared on “Hard Knocks” back in 2016 during Jeff Fisher’s tenure when the team migrated from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
The league and “Hard Knocks” want to document the Rams/Chargers this year, as both teams are on the cusp of opening the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
At present, no one knows what the future of the 2020 season will look like due to the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone in the sporting world is taking a “wait and see” approach while monitoring the fluid situation. Once NFL team doctors can assure testing on players and staff, they will wait for governmental health officials to give the final go-ahead.
Final Year in Oakland
Last season, “Hard Knocks” followed the Raiders during their final season in Oakland before the team moved to Las Vegas.
Head coach Jon Gruden had never been camera shy and his personality fit perfectly for a reality series.
The Raiders’ training camp wasn’t dull, either as Antonio Brown provided plenty of drama and comic relief. The controversial wide receiver showed up to camp with blisters on his feet after he failed to properly cover them when he entered a cryo healing chamber. More drama continued when the NFL outlawed Brown’s helmet.
“Hard Knocks” also gave fantasy football participants a tip on potential sleeper picks. Rookie Hunter Renfrow (from Clemson) came into camp as an undersized wide receiver, but he quickly won the trust of QB Derek Carr and the confidence of the coaching staff. Tight end Darren Waller was also profiled. The clean and sober Waller was focused and ready to show the league his full potential during a comeback season.
Hard Knocks History
“Hard Knocks” debuted in 2001 by following the Baltimore Ravens in training camp. In 2002, the Dallas Cowboys became the second team to get the reality show treatment.
After a five-season layoff, HBO re-booted Hard Knocks in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from one season in 2011, HBO’s cameras have been rolling ever since, giving fans a chance to follow a team on the upswing.
Hard Knocks Teams
Baltimore Ravens (2001)
Dallas Cowboys (2002)
Kansas City Chiefs (2007)
Dallas Cowboys (2008)
Cincinnati Bengals (2009)
New York Jets (2010)
Miami Dolphins (2012)
Cincinnati Bengals (2013)
Atlanta Falcons (2014)
Houston Texans (2015)
Los Angeles Rams (2016)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2017)
Cleveland Browns (2018)
Oakland Raiders (2019)
LA Rams/LA Chargers (2020)
Due to a potential labor dispute in 2011, HBO and the NFL couldn’t find a team willing to participate. Instead, HBO produced “Hard Knocks: A Decade of NFL Training Camps,” which was a greatest hits program featuring six previous teams they filmed during the 2000s.
The Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals are the only teams to have appeared on “Hard Knocks” twice. The Rams will join them as the third repeat team to go under the microscope.