HBO’s Hard Knocks is a TV program that airs an entire NFL preseason for one NFL team each year. This year it’s the Cincinnati Bengals; next year it might be the San Diego Chargers. Recent news articles have been hinting that the Chargers are currently the favorite for the 2014 Hard Knocks program. This does not mean that they are likely to participate at all really, it only means that there is thought going into the idea.
There are obvious benefits to the Chargers participating in the program. San Diego is known for having lackluster fan support. Every year, games are subject to local blackouts because the team doesn’t sell enough tickets. Being featured on the HBO program would probably give the Chargers a much needed boost in fan support both locally and throughout the US. This will lead to an increase in revenue via increases in ticket sales, advertising, and team apparel. This money can be used to help fund a new stadium, which the team has been wanting for a number of years. With the speculation that the Chargers may even leave San Diego if things don’t change, Hard Knocks may be the answer to the problem.
Another reason the Chargers are an ideal fit for Hard Knocks is because they have players on the roster that would be perfect for television. Manti Te’o is already a celebrity, and while he may not have a TV personality, people will tune in just to see him on the screen. While not technically celebrities, the Chargers already have players who would be perfect for the program. Philip Rivers has been featured on the NFL’s Sound FX Mic’d Up (when a player has a microphone taping him for an entire game). In a game against the Oakland Raiders, he can be heard making jokes, trash talking, and getting very excited. He has been seen on multiple occasions trash talking opposing players, most notably his talks with Jay Cutler back when he was a Bronco. This type of player can provide a comedic attitude to the show that will engage viewers and make the program entertaining.
Antonio Gates has made appearances in the media as well. He has been on The Biggest Loser and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson before, but his most interesting TV appearance was on the TV show The League in 2009. In that show, he actually had to act (even though it was a small role) and he was actually funny. While his personality may not be as loud as Rivers’ personality, he would be another potentially comedic role on the show.
Despite the good it could do for the Charger’s as a business, and the success the show could have, it may not be in the best interest for the team’s development. The Chargers are entering a rebuilding phase and are not as good as they were 4 years ago. When a team is developing, outside distractions can cause major problems. Players could lose focus and worry more about the camera than about playing football. Head coach Mike McCoy has already been very strict about media this season so it doesn’t seem like he would be that interested in having constant cameras around the team. Players also don’t necessarily want to be on the show either. Eric Weddle and even Rivers have already expressed opinions that they don’t want the show in San Diego.
At the end of the day the decision lies in the front office. It’s too early to tell if San Diego will likely participate in the program, but if they don’t start making more money, they might not have a choice.