ALAMEDA, Calif. — A franchise whose personalities and storylines are fit for a miniseries now will be the subject of one, the Raiders announced Tuesday, as they’ll be featured in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this training camp.
Members of the organization, including coach Jon Gruden and owner Mark Davis, expressed desire to avoid the assignment.
But cameras nonetheless will follow the club during camp. Its roster includes strong personalities who figure to captivate viewer interest, including wide receiver Antonio Brown, left guard Richie Incognito, linebacker Vontaze Burfict and an NFL-high three rookie first-round picks.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) June 11, 2019
Training camp, based in Napa, California, starts in late July.
The first episode will air Aug. 6 at 10 p.m.
“Everybody wants to be a Raider,” Davis said in a statement. “Now they’ll find out what it takes to become one.”
It’s unclear why the Raiders, of all teams, were chosen.
Once viewers look past Gruden and some of the aforementioned personalities, this likely being the franchise’s final season in Oakland, Napa’s serene backdrop, rookie linebacker Maxx Crosby being part of a rap group in high school, at least one break-dancing staffer, expected joint practices against the Los Angeles Rams (the defending NFC champion and 2016 “Hard Knocks” team), an Aug. 22 exhibition in Canada versus the Green Bay Packers, and first-time general manager Mike Mayock’s first wave of roster cuts, there’s not much here.
Predictably, many at Raiders headquarters were less than thrilled with the news.
There is no dismissing the show’s Emmy-award winning quality, but coaches and personnel executives generally would prefer — amid an industry that values secrecy like Napa does a 2010 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon — that a 30-person NFL Films crew doesn’t record more than 1,750 hours of video footage.
Alas, they will.
Davis was adamant about keeping the franchise off the HBO show. Teams cannot be forced to be filmed under certain conditions, such as if they hired a new coach that same offseason. Under the rules, the Raiders were open game for selection.
“I prefer not to do it,” Davis said March 26 at the NFL owner meetings. “Not this year. It’s just not the right time. … I told Jon, ‘If they make us do it, I’m gonna fire you and then I’ll hire you right back.’”
Speculation lingered, however, that the seemingly made-for-TV team would be chosen.
Gruden’s own brother, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden, and Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia both toyed with the concept in recent months, telling their respective group of reporters how great the Raiders would be, an attempt to deflect the NFL Films cameras from themselves.
A couple hours before Tuesday’s announcement, a reporter asked Jon Gruden if he’d like to pitch the Redskins as payback.
“I’m not talking to my brother again,” Gruden said.
■ The Raiders plan to travel directly from their Sept. 29 road game versus the Indianapolis Colts to London for their Oct. 6 game there against the Chicago Bears. Last October, the Raiders traveled from Oakland to London on a Thursday evening, arriving the Friday before a Sunday game. The Seattle Seahawks, citing acclimation to a nine-hour time difference, landed Thursday. The Raiders lost 27-3. “I probably won’t do what I did last year,” Gruden said.
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NFL teams previously appearing on “Hard Knocks”
*2001: Baltimore Ravens
*2002: Dallas Cowboys
*2007: Kansas City Chiefs
*2008: Dallas Cowboys
*2009: Cincinnati Bengals
*2010: New York Jets
*2012: Miami Dolphins
*2013: Cincinnati Bengals
*2014: Atlanta Falcons
*2015: Houston Texans
*2016: Los Angeles Rams
*2017: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
*2018: Cleveland Browns