The NFL and specifically, the Indianapolis Colts dropped a striking revelation on Thursday night, as it was revealed that the Horseshoe will appear on the hugely popular NFL documentary television series ‘Hard Knocks’ in its inaugural in season debut:
The series will premiere Nov. 17th (at 10 PM EST) on HBO and will stream on HBO Max, following the Colts’ Week 10 home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, airing every Wednesday night. It will carry on through the winter if Indianapolis safely reaches and proceeds through the playoffs—until their campaign’s final conclusion.
However, it raises the question of whether this is actually good news for the Colts’ ultimate success this season?
Here’s how the teams previously featured on Hard Knocks have fared respectively:
- 2001 Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Lost Divisional Round
- 2002 Dallas Cowboys (5-11): No Playoffs
- 2007 Kansas City Chiefs (4-12): No Playoffs
- 2008 Dallas Cowboys (9-7): No Playoffs
- 2009 Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Lost Wild Card Round
- 2010 New York Jets (11-5): Lost Conference Round
- 2012 Miami Dolphins (7-9): No Playoffs
- 2013 Cincinnati Bengals (11-5): Lost Wild Card Round
- 2014 Atlanta Falcons (6-10): No Playoffs
- 2015 Houston Texans (9-7): Lost Wild Card Round
- 2016 Los Angeles Rams (4-12): No Playoffs
- 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11): No playoffs
- 2018 Cleveland Browns (7-8-1): No playoffs
- 2019 Oakland Raiders (7-9): No Playoffs
- 2020 Los Angeles Chargers (7-9): No Playoffs
- 2020 Los Angeles Rams (10-6): Lost Divisional Round
- *2021 Dallas Cowboys (0-1): TBD
That’s a combined total record of 122-134-1 (.477).
Not horrible, but not quite .500 football either.
No Hard Knocks team has made the Super Bowl, let alone win it, and the HBO series squad to advance the furthest in the playoffs was the 2010 New York Jets (11-5), who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers that year in the AFC Title Game.
To be fair though, since 2013, the NFL has set a criteria for teams being exempt from being forced to even be featured on Hard Knocks: 1) said team has appeared on Hard Knocks within the last 10 years, 2) said team reached the playoffs in either of the two preceding seasons, or 3) said team has a first-year NFL head coach.
(Of course, regarding #2, this means A) the NFL changed its rules—at least for in season, because the Colts recently just made the playoffs in 2020 or B) the Colts initially accepted the NFL’s offer outright.)
It also means that given #2, that a team can be forced to be featured by having not made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, that said team is already at a bit of a winning disadvantage headed into it—which logically has contributed to at least some of the sub-.500 football collectively for all Hard Knocks featured teams.
The NFL also tends to want to spotlight teams with some extra drama or juice to the story, which also means there’s some internal turmoil or a shaky foundation to begin with.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the additional access into the locker room and brief behind the scenes looks for Colts fans—and I’m also happy to see more exposure for the Horseshoe at a national level (especially for a franchise that has significantly [and unfairly] been deprived of primetime games historically as of late).
However, I’m also hoping it doesn’t become a distraction for the 2021 Colts.
The team already has had to deal with a myriad of injuries and still presumably has one of the lowest team vaccination rates in the league for COVID-19—which is problematic.
Not to mention, a new starting quarterback, who’s hoping to rejuvenate his once promising career, despite limited offseason practice time with his new teammates.
Maybe Hard Knocks won’t become a factor on the field, and I can certainly appreciate the entertainment value of it all, but at the end of the day, I just want to see the Colts win football games in 2021.
If that comes with the additional ‘bells and whistles’, great, as who doesn’t want to see behind the Oz curtain—as long as Dorothy still gets home to Kansas.