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Indianapolis -- Let the game of Hot Potato begin.
After Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn jokingly suggested the Oakland Raiders made for an ideal selection for HBO's behind-the-scenes program "Hard Knocks," Raiders coach Jon Gruden was more than happy to return the compliment at the NFL Combine.
“Appreciate Matt Patricia, my friend, offering that up to me,” Gruden told NBC Sports. “That beard that Patricia has, he’s going to be a star. I mean he’s going to be one of the future television stars. I’d be surprised if Monday Night Football doesn’t put him upstairs in the future.”
Given the value placed on every morsel of information across the NFL, teams are eager to avoid appearing on the show. That goes doubly for the Lions, where franchise leadership was groomed in New England's den of secrecy.
But league rules make acceptance of an invite compulsory for franchises that fail to meet one of three conditions: A new head coach, a playoff berth in the past two seasons or previously appearing on "Hard Knocks" in the past 10 years.
The Lions and Raiders are two of five teams that can't say no to the show this offseason. The other teams are San Francisco, Washington and the New York Giants.
In February, at the team's season ticket holder summit at Ford Field, Patricia and Quinn made a case for the Raiders and Gruden.
"I think Jon Gruden is an excellent choice for that show," Patricia said. "I think the Oakland Raiders and everything they've got going on right now would be fantastic viewing for everybody to watch."
The Raiders, coming off a 4-12 season in Gruden's return to coaching, hold a trio of first-round picks after trading away star pass rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper in 2018.
The team is also entering its final season before relocating to Las Vegas. The Raiders have yet to come to an agreement on where they will play its home games in 2019.