NFL Pundits are becoming more confident that the owners and the players are working out their differences and heading towards an agreement. Ultimately the game has never been healthier, so it seems like both sides are motivated to keep the momentum going and potentially even make inroads with the NBA diehards who may be without a sport to follow this winter.
So if training camp is really going to be starting in less than a month it's a bit worrisome that HBO hasn't been able to finalize a deal with a team for a 2011 season of Hard Knocks. There hasn't even been any rumblings of late on that front which has me worried given my affinity for the show.
In previous years, HBO has made the announcement of which team they'll feature for the upcoming season anytime from March to late May. While it's not certain if and when training camp will begin, HBO has been pursuing a new featured team for months. Per various reports HBO has been turned down by the Broncos, Lions, and Bucs. Most of those reports came in that March-May time frame.
The Carolina Panthers were the last rumored team to be in play to appear on the show with Cam Newton taking a starring role. Those rumors were debunked shortly after and it's been eerily silent since.
PFT, SBJ, ESPN, or any other media outlets who have covered HBO's Hard Knocks in the past have been silent on the subject.
There are some reports from earlier in the year that the Cowboys and maybe even Jets would do it again and that the Seahawks and 49ers would be candidates, but most of those reports were flimsy at best and mostly conjecture.
Given there are a lot of contractual, logistical, and production issues in play in securing all access to training camp, I'd imagine we're fast approaching a deadline to get a deal done if the show is actually going to cover the beginning of training camp. If the NFL announces a deal in the next 10 days and HBO remains quiet on the future of Hard Knocks in the 72 hours after a new CBA is announced, I'd be very pessimistic of a new season airing.
So what's really going on behind the scenes? Given HBO seems to have some former teams interested, I'd imagine there are a handful of scenarios that are playing out...