Will Ravens training camp -- and the Harbaugh brothers storyline -- be under HBO’s spotlights this summer?
FOXSports.com reported that HBO is interested in the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers for this year’s season of “Hard Knocks,” its documentary-style training camp series. John coaches the Ravens and younger brother Jim coaches the 49ers -- a dynamic that would surely draw in viewers. But would the interest be mutual?
“I am not aware of any request in regards to ‘Hard Knocks,’” Ravens director of media relations Chad Steele told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday afternoon. “That decision would be made at the ownership level.”
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has lifted the curtain at The Castle for media in the past, allowing John Feinstein to be embedded with the Ravens during the 2004 season for his book, "Next Man Up." And the Ravens have done “Hard Knocks” before, but that was more than a decade ago when John Harbaugh was not the coach.
The Ravens, coming off a win in Super Bowl XXXV, were the first team to be featured on "Hard Knocks” in 2001. Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, tight end Shannon Sharpe and first-round draft pick Todd Heap were among those highlighted, as was new starting quarterback Elvis Grbac, who was signed to replace Trent Dilfer.
“I can't imagine much that would be thrown at us in terms of a distraction during the season that we would not have already experienced," former Ravens coach Brian Billick said at the start of that training camp. “Very truthfully, training camp is about providing learning experiences, and that's what this is for my players."
The Ravens went 10-6 that season and won a playoff game before losing in the AFC divisional round to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A season-ending knee injury to running back Jamal Lewis hurt their chances of a repeat much more than HBO’s camera crew.
According to the FOXSports.com report, HBO reached out to the Denver Broncos about doing the show, but were denied. The New York Jets are interested in appearing on “Hard Knocks” again (against the wishes of head coach Rex Ryan if you can believe that). The Jacksonville Jaguars have lobbied the cable network to cover their training camp. The report stated that if the Jets pass on the opportunity, HBO will try to woo the Ravens and 49ers.
The brothers were tight-lipped when their teams met in the Harbaugh Bowl on Thanksgiving, tiptoeing around questions about a “sibling rivalry.” But that didn’t keep the national media from going wild with its coverage of the game. The two teams won’t play each other in 2012 unless they meet in the Super Bowl, so maybe John and Jim would (hypothetically) be more candid, especially with HBO’s camera crews following them around for a month.
Only the Dallas Cowboys have been on “Hard Knocks” more than once. The Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals were also featured in the past. The show was forced to take a hiatus last summer due to the uncertainty caused by the NFL lockout.
What’s your take? Would you welcome the inside look at the Ravens or do you think it would be too much of a distraction?