The NFL and HBO should soon reveal which team NFL Films will document for this summer's installment of the training camp series "Hard Knocks," though you might be surprised by how shallow the pool of options appears to be.
Often loathe to incur additional media obligations or — gasp! — potentially provide a competitive advantage while the cameras roll sunrise to sunset, the league's 32 clubs seem to avoid a "Hard Knocks" hitch like a running back who runs a 4.7 40-yard dash.
As the struggle increased to find willing participants for the series, which debuted in 2001, the NFL implemented measures in 2013 that provided ready-made "Hard Knocks" exemptions. Teams would not have to take part if they had a first-year head coach, had reached the playoffs in either of the previous two seasons or had been on the show in the past decade. Since then, Atlanta (in 2014) is the only team to be featured despite meeting one of those conditions.
According to NBC Sports Bay Area, one of this year's "eligible" franchises, the 49ers, will not be on "Hard Knocks," not very surprising given previously stated objections from coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
So barring a voluntary wild card, that leaves four teams from which to choose, which we'll rank from least appealing to most:
4. Detroit Lions: "Hard Knocks" tends to reveal unexpected personalities every year, but this team has little in the way of star power on the surface. Coach Matt Patricia, a product of The Patriot Way and a Bill Belichick acolyte, isn't likely to serve up many insights or juicy sound bites. Detroit's outlook also seems especially bleak given every other team in the NFC North projects as a solid playoff prospect. Even if there is an intriguing subplot as quarterback Matthew Stafford's wife, Kelly, recovers from brain surgery, it's hardly fair to ask the couple to pull back the curtain during such an emotional and uncertain time.
3. New York Giants: Yes, they just drafted QB Daniel Jones in the first round, but he seems very unlikely to unseat Eli Manning in training camp, and neither is going to be confused for a quote machine.