“Hard Knocks,” the HBO reality series, is returning to Cincinnati Bengals training camp in August and will take another look at the NFL franchise it chronicled in 2009.
That might be a disappointment to fans who were hoping for a behind-the-scenes look at Tim Tebow with New England or Peyton Manning with Denver -- the Bengals were ranked 30th in popularity in a 2012 poll by ESPN -- but the show’s supervising producer said popularity does not necessarily lead to good story lines.
“What we’re looking for is the quality of stories that can be told within that franchise,” said Ken Rodgers of NFL Films, who oversees the five-episode series, which is in its eighth season. “It’s very easy to say the most popular franchises are the most interesting, but they’re also the ones that are covered the most and may not have as many things going on that people will be interested in learning about. Everyone knows about Tim Tebow in New England, but everyone’s already going to be covering that story.
“Cincinnati has stars that I don’t think the fans of the National Football League are all that familiar with, compared to some of the bigger stars on other teams.”
The season the Bengals were profiled, in fact, might have been the most interesting in the series. That show won Sports Emmys for outstanding edited series/anthology and outstanding post-produced audio/sound.
Those Bengals were coming off a four-win season and looking to right their ship. These Bengals have been to the playoffs three of the last four years, and have rising stars in quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green and have acquired former Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison.
“They have a much different feel, so while the location might be the same, the feel of the show and feel of the franchise are going to be much different,” Rodgers said. “This team is knocking on the door of taking the next big step.”