After much anticipation, the New York Jets are deciding that it would be a good idea to “knock” it off this year.
As first reported by Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News, the Jets have decided not to make an encore performance on HBO’s football training camp reality program collaboration with NFL Films, “Hard Knocks.”
Gang Green’s decision is much to the chagrin of team owner Woody Johnson, who last month expressed interest in the Jets appearing on the show for a second straight season (remember, the 2011 season was shelved due to the lockout). In ensuing days, however, general manager Mike Tannenbaum (“I’m looking forward to watching another team on it this year”) and even coach Rex Ryan exhibited reservations in returning to “Hard Knocks.” You’ll recall that Ryan became a cult icon thanks to the 2010 edition of the show.
The Jets are giving a very believable excuse in passing on “Hard Knocks” this year: With the hiring of a new offensive coordinator, the team would much rather concentrate on learning the new system that will be put in place. Tony Sparano, most recently head coach of the division rival Miami Dolphins (and not to be confused with Tony Soprano), was hired as the Jets’ new offensive coordinator on January 11 – just three days after Tim Tebow led his former team, the Denver Broncos, to an overtime playoff win.
Tebow, of course, is now wearing a Jets uniform (and in case you missed it, he even renamed his dog from Bronco to Bronx in light of the move) and is expected to take over for incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez at some point this season. Storylines such as this, let alone the mere variables of Tebow and Ryan, would have potentially made this season of “Hard Knocks” its most-watched ever.
The good news is the Jets, through someone the Associated Press is calling “a person familiar with the decision” not to appear on “Hard Knocks” this year, is quite “open” to entertaining the possibility of doing the show “on a future season” – perhaps next year.
So with the odds-on favorite now bowing out of the “Hard Knocks” sweepstakes, who’s the new leader in the clubhouse? We know that the Atlanta Falcons are out, as are the Denver Broncos, now with Peyton Manning under center, who “flat out denied” an invitation to appear on the show. The San Francisco 49ers are a possibility, as are the Baltimore Ravens, who were the very first subjects of the program upon winning the Super Bowl in 2001.
But one franchise that has shown an alarming amount of interest in appearing on “Hard Knocks” this year are the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, the same Jaguars who were a combined 20-28 over their last three seasons. It’s one thing when the league schedules three primetime games, including two on “Monday Night Football”, for the Jaguars in 2011 (they wisely have given the Jags just one primetime nod in 2012). But it would be hard to fathom thousands of viewers, let alone hundreds, rushing to the television to watch the training camp goings-on of a 5-11 team that underwent an ownership change toward the end of the season.
Maybe if the Jaguars players are as about as rogue as the team’s beat reporter, it could be a ratings bonanza.