It's the worst-kept secret in the NFL: Nobody wants to be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks, the wildly popular behind-the-scenes training camp series that airs on the network each summer. It's every team's worst nightmare, and they'll do anything to avoid it.
But the Miami Dolphins should beg the NFL and HBO to select them this season. The Dolphins should get on the phone now and jump in front of the Hard Knocks bullet before it strikes the Detroit Lions, the rumored unenthusiastic participant.
The Fins should want this because they have a lot more to gain from the attention than to lose from it.
Teams seem to think the long-running show causes a competitive disadvantage. They reportedly do everything in their power to get out of being selected to appear. As popular as the show is with fans, teams hate cameras intruding on their sacred training camps.
One team's intrusive distraction, though, could be another team's free advertising. It could create a buzz that isn't there.
For the Dolphins, Hard Knocks might be perfect. The team is looking to start over with fresh faces. This likely means a bucketful of losses. Appearing on the show could excite fans about players who may well get embarrassed on the field more times than not next season. It would allow fans a window into a rebuilding project, making them more likely to invest in something that has been tried (and has failed) ten times since Dan Marino retired.
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The Dolphins are in a unique position entering 2019. This could make Hard Knocks a perfect fit. They're almost volunteering that winning is secondary to building a foundation for the future this year. They're likely going to
Hard Knocks has a way of creating a buzz for a team. Fans of other teams fall in love with the featured team's third-string tight end. Young quarterbacks — such as Cleveland's Baker Mayfield last season — get a chance to introduce themselves to the league.
Sure, new Dolphins coach Brian Flores seems like a subdued, Patriots-way guy, but no one truly knows what he's all about. A few episodes of Hard Knocks would give Dolphins fans a glimpse into his personality, how he runs a team, and what makes him tick. It would be a way to make him known as more than just another ex-Patriots assistant.
The Dolphins will struggle to sell tickets and gain interest from those around the league next year. If Stephen Ross wants to create some excitement while starting over, appearing on Hard Knocks seems like a logical choice.