The Oakland Raiders are slated to be the subject of this season of HBO's Hard Knocks series. With a host of new faces, including a few who are no stranger to controversy, the HBO reality series couldn't help but cover the Raiders in their final season in Oakland.
NBC Sports Bay Area's Scott Bair covered the breaking story on Tuesday:
Hours before the announcement, Gruden appeared to know something the rest of the world didn't when he was asked Tuesday how top Raiders rookies are integrating into his team.
The Raiders head coach gushed about first-round picks Clelin Ferrell, Johnathan Abram and Josh Jacobs, their progress through the offseason program and what’s coming up for them in training camp.
'Who knows, maybe Hard Knocks will come and cover that,' Gruden said. 'That’d be awesome, wouldn’t it?'
Two of the team's current employees — defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and linebacker Vontaze Burfict — have experience with the HBO docu-series from when they both were members of the Cincinnati Bengals organization.
When asked about his experience with Hard Knocks, Guenther replied, "They [Hard Knocks crew] do a really good job of staying out of your way." He went on to add, "Because really after the third day, you don't notice, you're so used to having them around that you just go about your business."
It is hardly a surprise that the Oakland Raiders would be selected from the pool of five possible teams – including the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, and Washington Redskins – to be featured on Hard Knocks. The team added such high-profile talents as WR Antonio Brown, LB Vontaze Burfict, and OL Richie Incognito. Each of whom happen to be brimming with personality and have had their fair share of conflict, scandal, and intrigue.
There are other reasons, of course, for HBO to choose the Silver and Black, as they are playing their final season in the city of Oakland. Their new Las Vegas stadium should be completed before the 2020 season, though, there have been some headache-producing setbacks. Quarterback Derek Carr has had his abilities and starting-spot questioned quite a bit, recently, and should be looking to "light up" opposing secondaries with his revamped offensive weapons.
In an attempt to rebuild the defensive line in the post-Khalil Mack era, GM Mike Mayock and coach Gruden decided to draft Clemson's Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick, though, the edge rusher was expected to remain undrafted until late in the opening round by most experts. Ferrell's play will thus be put under the microscope for analysts to dissect and critique, which should make for an interesting storyline.
As the Oakland Raiders have long been considered the "bad boys" of the NFL, HBO will finally get to show the world some more in-depth and behind-the-scenes looks at the team and organization. Perhaps, after this next season of Hard Knocks, the Raiders franchise will finally be able to shed some of the negative aura they always appear to exude.