Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Buccaneers will be holding a major announcement on Wednesday at One Buccaneer Place and it is expected that Tampa Bay will be announced as 10th team to participate in NFL Films and HBO’s training camp and preseason documentary series “Hard Knocks” for 2017.
The show first aired in 2001 and featured the Baltimore Ravens after their Super Bowl victory. The show took years off in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2011 and has featured nine other teams including the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals twice.
In October of 2013, the NFL announced that if no team offered to volunteer to participate in the show, the league could force a team to participate. However, they did set up some ground rules on which teams they would choose from to maintain a balance.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Teams are exempt from being forced to participate in Hard Knocks if they fall under one of three circumstances. First, if they have appeared on the show in the past ten years. Second, if they have a first-year head coach. And, finally, if they have reached the playoffs in either of the two previous seasons.
This year, those rules eliminated 24 teams from being forced to participate in the show for the 2017 season. The remaining eight teams included were the Bears, Buccaneers, Browns, Colts, Eagles, Ravens, Saints, and Titans. Ultimately, the Buccaneers were chosen – surely due to potential record and player appeal.
The star of the show will undoubtedly be the team’s young, gregarious, outspoken quarterback Jameis Winston, who was the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
“I know I’d embrace it,” Winston said Monday during his press conference. “You’ve got to cherish the opportunity that you’ve got. The whole world gets to see how great of an organization this is and see the great people that we have within the organization – but our job is to play football. They add the glitz and the glamour and all that comes with it. It’s an amazing show, but we’ve got to play football. We’re out there doing it for the fans, we’re out there doing it for the city, and Hard Knocks – they’ll just show the whole world.”
So what does this really mean for the Buccaneers? To some, Hard Knocks is seen as a bad luck charm.
Here’s how each team that has participated in Hard Knocks performed during the regular seasons of the years they were featured.
2001 – Baltimore Ravens – 10-6 and made the playoffs
2002 – Dallas Cowboys – 5-11 and no playoffs
2003 – Kansas City Chiefs – 4-12 and no playoffs
2008 – Dallas Cowboys – 9-7 and no playoffs
2009 – Cincinnati Bengals – 10-6 and made the playoffs
2010 – New York Jets – 11-5 and made the playoffs
2012 – Miami Dolphins – 7-9 and no playoffs
2013 – Cincinnati Bengals – 11-5 and made the playoffs
2014 – Atlanta Falcons – 6-10 and no playoffs
2015 – Houston Texans – 9-7 and made the playoffs
2016 – Los Angeles Rams – 4-12 and no playoffs
Total record of Hard Knocks teams: 86-90
Total playoff appearances: 5
Total playoff wins: 3
For the last six seasons, the teams participating in Hard Knocks has alternated with playoff appearances. With the Los Angeles Rams not making the playoffs last year, that means fortune could be on the Buccaneers good side, if you believe in that sort of thing.
In reality, all that really matter is how this Tampa Bay team plays this year within themselves. The show will give fans in Tampa Bay and around the nation an inside look at what goes on all around One Buc Place from the practice field to the GM’s desk to the film room and weight room with its’ 30-man film crew.
“We play the games on Sunday’s with cameras watching,” said Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy during his press conference on Monday. “So if you think you can’t go out to practice and practice with a camera on you, then you’re probably in the wrong profession. If we get picked, it is what it is, let’s be professionals and go to work.”
The one thing Bucs players liked about the prospects of having the Hard Knocks spotlight on them was the fact that head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith went through Hard Knocks together in 2014 when Smith was the head coach in Atlanta and Koetter was his offensive coordinator.
“Oh yeah, it does help,” Bucs left guard Kevin Pamphile said. “I don’t know how many of our guys have gone through Hard Knocks – maybe one or two guys? It would be a different experience because we’re such a young team.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
“It will be interesting to see which guys can handle being in the spotlight for that period of time with cameras around. You don’t want to make the wrong impression. Hopefully Dirk will have the right game plan for us to go about things if we get chosen.”
The players trust Koetter to help navigate a training camp full of extra attention.
“I don’t know what Dirk’s approach would be to it, but if I know Dirk he’ll do everything in his power to not let it be a distraction for us,” Bucs offensive tackle Demar Dotson said. “The cameras will be out there, but we have to come to work and practice the same way. We’re a young team in a way and you’re going to see some stuff that people are going to try to do to get on camera.”
Middle linebacker Kwon Alexander is enthusiastic about Tampa Bay being selected for Hard Knocks because Koetter, Smith and other Bucs coaches like defensive line coach Jay Hayes (Cincinnati 2009, ’13) defensive backs coach Brett Maxie (Dallas 2008) and assistant wide receivers coach Andrew Weidinger (Atlanta 2014) have previous experience with it.
“They’ve been through it before so they would tell us about it,” Alexander said. “I feel like it would be fun. We would get to see each other on TV and it would be a great thing to do.”
As one of the better young and up-and-coming NFL teams in the league, this opportunity is shaping up to be less of a downer and more of a coming out party.
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“It’s something I would embrace because I feel like we don’t get enough publicity anyways,” Alexander said. “I feel like everybody needs to get their face out. We have a lot of great players on our team that don’t get seen. That show could put us out there a little more and show the world how we grind and how we get to it.”
Alexander doesn’t think the Bucs would be distracted by the training camp intrusion of the Hard Knocks cameras and microphones.
“I don’t think our guys on our team would do that,” Alexander said. “We wouldn’t change for a camera. We’ve been playing ball all of our lives. It’s not like we’re making a movie and playing roles. It’s just going to be doing our thing on film.”
Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who will be attending Wednesday’s announcement with Koetter, believes his players are ready for the increased exposure.
“I’ve said it before, I feel good about our team and the maturity, especially for being a young group,” Licht said. “I know we have some great personalities on our team starting with Jameis, Gerald –the list goes on and on – Kwon. The fans would get an inside look at how our team really is. I know that you guys get a better feel than most, but I think the fans would get a real inside look at how we operate, how the players are. In terms of being a distraction, I think we’re wired to where we would be able to minimize that. Dirk has been through it. Mike Smith has been through it and I’ve heard positive things from them.”
No team that appeared on Hard Knocks has gone on to play for a Super Bowl in that same year – and none have even made it to the conference championship game. The Bucs are hoping to make history in all the right ways.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sweet! A great opportunity for Bucs fans to get a premium glimpse behind the curtain during training camp and the preseason. I also bet the owners are happy they get a chance to show off the remodeled stadium and indoor practice facility. First class, all the way!
The indoor practice facility won’t be ready for Training Camp.
The power of Goodel compel you. The power of Goodel compels you.
Even though the more BUCS the better, this will be a distraction.
Plus the idea of not being able to say no, well it’s not right. Plus if I want to watch it I have to buy an extra subscription to my cable. If it was on the NFL network maybe that would be better. Most likely less entertaining due to the frequent bleeps that would occur. Bad language and all that stuff.
Oh well, 10 more bucks out of my pay check, because I will watch it!!!!
Yes you will and so will I…lol! Time to drop Showtime and add HBO!
I added HBO last night.
You will probably be able to stream it on Kodi
Look we are BUC fans (fanatics). We love our BUCS, read PR daily, look for BUCS news anywhere we can find it, BUT…this is not a good idea. I want the BUCS to make it to the playoffs and beyond. Though this might help team & player exposure it sure doesn’t help them in any way to achieve their playoff goals, it only offers another hurdle.
Licht & company can put on their games faces & open up their arms, but I don’t believe they really wanted it. (probably feel the cold steel of a gun barrel on their back) Hell, if it was worth doing Belichick would be volunteering, and I don’t see his hand up!
I also think the “rules” suck. Doesn’t the public really want to see the “hot teams”: Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots, and Seahawks. Heck they have some real personalities going on in those locker rooms.
We’ll all watch it cause we are fanatics, but I’ll be pissed if this in anyway distracts them from making the playoffs. That is what we really want to watch not reality TV.
It’s a done deal! And it’s something I am now very much on board with. The Buccaneers will soon have to get used to more camera’s and the national media anyway. Both Coaches Koetter and Smith have done it before. And the fact is that this exposure can only help the Buccaneers both nationally and locally. More season ticket will be sold and more Buccaneer fans in the seats on Sundays and less jackwagons wearing visiting jerseys at our home games.
It’s big time and so are the Buccaneers. Time to get used to it, time to get on board!
No more season tickets will be sold because of Hard Knocks, winning & playoffs will sell tickets. It’s been that way since 1976. When teams that haven’t been in the playoffs are the only pool to select from that isn’t big time. Though I believe the BUCs big time is coming.
I guess I should be more like you Garv & just embrace it, but I’m more for the BUCS using all their focus to make the playoffs than having it taken away by cameras in their grills all the time. They’re young kids (one of the youngest teams in the NFL), and think they need more seasoning before they are thrown to the media wolves. I am sure they didn’t volunteer for this, and think MAKING them do it is crappy.
I can assure you the Bucs being on HBO will increase the already building excitement level and likely cause a spike in season ticket sales. One of the things maybe unique to this area is fans are from other towns and revert back to their former loyalties during the tough times. They may want to cheer for their local team but only when it is doing well. Those people often start becoming Bucs fans by becoming fans of the popular players (Sapp, Brooks, Lynch Barber Alstott and others) more so than they are for the team itself. They want to come and see the stars. I suspect with the players being more visible, folks will be more encouraged to get off their couch and actually come to the game wearing the jersey of the guy who made an impression on HBO.
1. Great exposure for the team. Many NFL fans outside the Tampa area see the Bucs and a bottom of the barrel team and organization, and this is a chance to show them what we are about. Think of each episode as a Nationaly telivised game.
2. Great exposure for our players. Because the team in general is looked down on, some of our players are not as recognized as being as good as they are (Kwon / Brate / Winston).
3. Hopefully it will give Winston a chance to drop some of the hate he gets from his college days. I live outside the state of Florida, and I am constantly having to defend Winston, to the point where I have realized the best way to try to get people to understand what kind of man he is, is for them to see him off the football field. He is currently the 2nd most hated player in the NFL.
4. This is going to probably be one of the funniest TV shows you will see on TV. Just think of the good quotes we can get.
1. I will proably need to get HBO
2. It may or may not be a distraction
3. It may cause some of our coaches to get poached by other teams
4. It will probably cause me to spend more monay on Bucs merch
I agree that this will be a distraction.
This is not good news.
This team couldn’t handle the distraction of one good win against the Falcons without it going to their heads
So now the national media will be around for three or four weeks.
No thanks. This team isnt mature enough.
Folks, at this point, it doesn’t matter if you think it is bad or good. It is gonna happen. I don’t personally like the distraction potential but if there is a Coaching Staff and a Quarterback that I think can overcome this obstacle it is our Guys! I will switch to HBO and I will watch. And I will hope and pray….but I will watch!
This could potentially work out in our favor. If this Team can succeed after Hard Knocks AND the expectations of making the playoffs how much will this draw Free Agents in the future.
I am a homer and an optimist…
Not being on hard knocks since it’s started airing sure hasn’t helped the Bucs, so I say bring it on! This will be great seeing our favorite team for a full hour on a weekly basis.
Great point Surfer. I in no way think it will be a distraction after the first few days. When we do a school project, the first few days the students are interested in what we are doing so perhaps it’s a bit of a distraction. But after a few days they don’t even notice us. Sometimes we do presentations during which a camera records us for public record. It’s more of a distraction leading up to the presentation than it is when the action starts and we pay no attention to it.
I’m reminded of the place kicker who said John McKay made him nervous. If there are any players who can’t function with a camera rolling, perhaps they aren’t cut out to be a NFL player.
Didn’t McKay reply “to bad I’ll be at every game”. That man cracked me up.
I’m excited about it. They don’t get enough exposure anyway, and Jameis & Kwon will make for good television.
Just think of if, BUCCANEERS and GAME OF THRONES. I guess I won’t b***h to much.
Winter is Coming! lol.
Go Bucs and ASOIAF!
As a LONG time West Coast fan, I am elated.
How is Hard Knocks any more of a distraction than being in the spotlight on Sunday Night or Monday Night football? Or playoff football? Or the added coverage of being a hot team in general?
This whole notion about the show being “bad luck” is ridiculous. Luck is for losers and if our team can’t handle some cameras being around in practice for the pre-season, they sure as hell won’t be able to handle playing on a big stage in the playoffs.
I think it’s cool I also think it will make all the players play harder wanting to look good for the cameras an wanting to prove something to everyone out there think it could be a positive I’m all for it
I think it might just give the players some confidence and maybe even cause them to show more effort and have more focus when Training Camp gets boring because everyone is watching.
As a fan who used to peek over the fence at the old One Buc Place to watch practice, I can’t wait to see the show without the risk of being tossed by Sam Wyche.
For such a young team, there is strong leadership for the Bucs. Strong enough to keep the tv cameras from becoming a distraction. The exposure will help us gain more popularity, sell more tickets, and merchandise.
Like others have said, not being on Hard Knocks hasn’t resulted in playoffs so the stigma that it will prevent us from making it is irrelevant. The only negative I see is possibly having to get HBO, but I’m hoping I can find a stream on Kodi.
Things could be far worse…they could have put Jameis or Evans on the Madden 18 cover!
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