Denver Broncos avoid appearing on ‘Hard Knocks,’ NFL picks Browns

Broncos - Browns. Credit: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports.

The Denver Broncos just dodged a bullet.

The NFL has just announced the Cleveland Browns will be featured on the league’s amazing documentary series Hard Knocks, the 10th team to be used since HBO’s inception of the series in 2001.

Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, Hue Jackson going into his third year, and the Browns as the laughing stock of the NFL after going 1-31 the last two years; there are plenty of storylines to cover in Cleveland.

The Browns were picked this year after also being eligible last year, and there were six total teams eligible, including: the San Francisco 49ers, LA Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and Broncos.

Due to the NFL’s wanting to document every team, Denver was eligible because they didn’t meet any of the three exemptions which are:

1. They have a first-year head coach in place
2. They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons
3. They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years

Last year, Vance Joseph’s first, they weren’t eligible. So, depending on if the Broncos can make the playoffs this year or not, they may be eligible again in 2019. Or, they may have a new coach next year with another playoff-less season.

Appearing on Hard Knocks is a double-edged sword for NFL teams and their fans.

For the fans, it can be an amazing, behind-the-scenes look into how their favorite team prepares in the dog days of summer before the season. There documentary series is wonderfully well-done, giving first-hand perspectives of some of the NFL’s biggest stars as well as up-and-coming names.

With all the desire for censorship on the main networks, we rarely get to hear what NFL players say on the field. Hard Knocks again gives us a glimpse into what they say to one another, their demeanor, and it’s all uncensored on HBO. For teams, it’s a chance to highlight their facilities, their front offices and how the conduct business; a perfect way to shed light on the individual franchises.

On the flip side, all that attention can create some distractions for the players in training camp, while also adding unneeded, additional pressure on the teams to perform. Plus, some say there’s a Hard Knocks “curse.”

Only six of 12 teams featured in the history of the show have made the playoffs, four of them won their divisions. The 2007 Kansas City Chiefs went from 9-7 to 4-12 after appearing on the show, and the Dallas Cowboys went from 13-3 to 9-7 and out of the postseason in 2008. In 2014, Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith were fired by the Atlanta Falcons after appearing on Hard Knocks in the preseason, and last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from postseason favorite to 5-11 including an injury to star quarterback Jameis Winston.

Curse or not, added attention on the Broncos from a national perspective isn’t needed this season. Denver has a ton of questions to answer in their uphill journey back to the postseason for the first time in three years. Have they finally figured out the offensive line? Will Case Keenum be a star or a game manager? How will the “No Fly Zone” perform without Aqib Talib? And will the special teams ever be special again?

Luckily, for the Broncos, they have three months to prepare before the preseason begins, and they’ve already been working out, in the rookie minicamp last week and then the veterans joined on Monday.