Although recent seasons of HBO’s long-running football reality show Hard Knocks haven’t been as compelling as they were in years past, that will certainly change if the NFL forces the New York Jets to participate in the program during the 2023 preseason later this summer. According to ProFootballTalk, that’s the way things are trending even though third-year coach Robert Saleh has made it very clear that he does not want HBO’s cameras anywhere near his locker room or practice facility. “I know there are several teams that would love for Hard Knocks to be in their building. We’re just not one of them,” he said earlier this month.
Unfortunately for Saleh and his team, the Jets don’t actually have much say in the matter and are one of four teams that the NFL could force to take part in the show. The Jets, along with Saints, Bears and Commanders, could be required to allow HBO to film them starting in late July as New York does not have a first-year head coach and has not made it to the playoffs in the past two seasons or made an appearance on Hard Knocks in the past 10 seasons. If the Jets fell into any of those categories, they would be exempt from becoming reality stars this summer. Alas, they do not.
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Of the Saints, Bears and Commanders, only the Jets have a quarterback with name recognition and only the Jets have a shot, albeit a small one, at making a deep playoff run and possibly contending for a Super Bowl. If using past history as a barometer to predict future success, the Jets should actually want to be on Hard Knocks in 2023 — because the last time they appeared on the show was the last time New York qualified for the playoffs and won a game in the postseason.
With Rex Ryan as head coach, Mark Sanchez at quarterback in his second NFL season, and a defensive secondary anchored by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the 2010 Jets were a compelling team and made for a great watch on Hard Knocks in the preseason. Part of that was because Ryan, an outspoken foot fetishist, is a larger-than-life character who was at complete ease in front of HBO’s cameras. The Jets also had a number of intriguing storylines entering the 2010 season — Revis holding out being a major one — that made them a compelling watch.
While Saleh is no Ryan when it comes to charisma, he’s certainly capable of commanding a room and would have a noticeable on-screen presence. As for storylines, it’s hard to beat Rodgers following in Brett Favre’s footsteps and going from Green Bay to New York after having a messy breakup with the Packers.
“If the Jets get the short straw, it could actually make for a more compelling presentation, with a possible attitude emanating from the coaching staff and the rest of the team that they don’t want the cameras and microphones there. Now that would be a reality show,” according to PFT.
Get the preseason football started on the right foot, NFL. Make the Jets do Hard Knocks in 2023.