HBO opts for Raiders, not Lions, for 'Hard Knocks'
Allen Park — The Lions dodged a responsibility no NFL team seems to want.
On Tuesday, HBO announced it has selected the Oakland Raiders to be featured on the network's behind-the-scenes training camp series "Hard Knocks."
The Lions and Raiders were two of five eligible franchises to be on the show. The others were the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Washington.
Teams are prohibited from saying no to being featured if they fail to meet any of the following criteria: qualified for the postseason in the past two years, hired a new head coach this offseason or appeared on "Hard Knocks" in the past 10 years.
The Lions made it clear months ago they had little to no interest.
Answering a fan's question at the team's annual season-ticket holder summit, Lions coach Matt Patricia playfully suggested the Raiders and coach Jon Gruden were a better option, while general manager Bob Quinn noted the competitive disadvantages teams experience when future opponents can get a look behind the curtain of the franchise's operation.
Days later, Gruden readily joined the game of hot potato, lobbying for HBO to make Patricia a star.
Both Patricia and Lions team president Rod Wood claimed to be in the dark in the months leading up to Oakland's selection. Last week, before the start of Detroit's minicamp, Patricia finally seemed to soften his stance toward potentially being featured by praising the impact NFL Films, co-producer of the show, had on him as a young sports fan.
"You know what? I think I’ve said before, too, I think like all of us, we fell in love with the game through NFL Films," Patricia said. "I just love those clips as a young guy falling in love with the game. I just love the history of it and how important it all is. I can’t say enough about the great job they do at NFL Films."
In the end, the Raiders were the most logical choice. The team's leadership of Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock both have extensive television experience, while the roster is loaded up with three first-round picks and arguably the NFL's top offseason acquisition in wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Additionally, it's the Raiders final season before next year's move to Vegas, adding an interesting dynamic to their final training camp in California.
The Lions can take themselves out of the running to be on the next season of "Hard Knocks" by making the playoffs. The team went 6-10 in 2018, Patricia's first season as coach.