What had been rumored is now reportedly a done deal. As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Cleveland Browns will be featured on the upcoming 13th season of HBO’s Hard Knocks.
— HBO (@HBO) May 17, 2018
The Browns will appear on Hard Knocks coming off an 0-16 season (which followed a 1-15 season), and the franchise’s attempt to build itself back up will surely be a dominant theme on the show. Another theme will be the likely quarterback competition between veteran Tyrod Taylor and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who seems to have the perfect brash personality for the show.
As our Matt Yoder wrote in April after the likelihood of a Browns season of Hard Knocks was first reported, Cleveland could make a perfect subject for the docu-series:
So why this year to chronicle the Browns’ Sisyphean task of trying to build an NFL contender? Well, the timing works out for a couple reasons.
First, seeing that #1 draft pick in camp is always going to be a compelling storyline for the HBO show to follow. And given the fact the Browns have seen so many “franchise quarterbacks” come and go and fail under the weighty pressure of trying to turn the franchise around, all eyes are going to be on that #1 pick to see how he grows through camp. Even if Tyrod Taylor is the starter for the entire season (and we all know to take anything Hue Jackson says with a grain of salt with regards to those quarterbacks), it’ll still be a compelling preseason story to follow.
Second, there’s only been one other time in history a team has ever tried to turn around an 0-16 season. How do the Browns players and coaches cope with trying to come back from that embarrassment? How does the franchise to instill a winning culture from scratch? How does the front office move on from Moneyball for Football? How do the new players fit in? How do you dig out of a 1-31 hole if you’re Hue Jackson?
The Browns will be the 11th franchise to get the Hard Knocks spotlight over the series’ 13 seasons (the Cowboys and Bengals have each appeared twice). Last year’s season featured the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hue Jackson and company probably aren’t thrilled to have more cameras on their moribund team, but HBO has the right to select any team that has not made the playoffs in the past two seasons, has not appeared appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years and does not have a first-year head coach. Six teams were eligible this year, and the network apparently chose Cleveland over San Francisco, Denver, San Diego, Baltimore and Washington.
“The storylines in Cleveland are compelling, which make the Browns an ideal partner on Hard Knocks,” NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover said in a release. “We’re looking forward to showing NFL fans around the world what the Haslams, John Dorsey, Hue Jackson and the coaching staff are doing to rebuild the team and reboot one of the most iconic franchises in sports.”