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HBO, NFL talked to Browns about doing 'Hard Knocks' for second season in a row.

By Jimmy Traina
August 02, 2019

1. We are just a few days away from the season debut of HBO's Hard Knocks featuring the Raiders. Will Oakland be able to give us as entertaining a season as the Browns did last year?

From Bob Wylie's anti-stretching lecture to Carl Nassib talking about Taylor Swift and dropping financial advice to Jarvis Landry being Jarvis Landry, Cleveland gave us one of the best seaons ever of Hard Knocks, so Oakland has its work cut out.

Did HBO ever think about featuring the Browns for back-to-back seasons before locking in the Raiders? The man in charge of the show, Ken Rodgers, joined the latest episode of the SI Media Podcast and revealed that Hard Knocks did consider Cleveland for an unprecedented second season in a row. Here's what Rodgers said when I asked if there was any chance the show would've even thought about going with the Browns again:

"It was very much a consideration. Something we talked about internally and externally a lot. And what it would mean for the franchise to repeat a team twice in a row—not just the Cleveland Browns franchise, but the Hard Knocks franchise. We've always felt like changing it up has really allowed the show to be on the air for 18 years now. The reason why the show, I think, stays relevant is that we change every year. That being said if we were ever gonna repeat a team, it might have been this year with the Cleveland Browns.

"There certainly was enough change. The coaching staff has changed. Bob Wylie isn't there anymore so who's taking over the offensive line? Obviously, Odell [Beckham] coming in would be a big storyline. It was a top consideration. No doubt. At the end of the day, we felt like the Raiders were equal in terms of storylines and a bit fresher in terms of some of the characters. We'd be continuing the story, but we'd lack the ability to introduce them. Everyone already saw Baker Mayfield and the RV last year. People heard Jarvis Landry's speech to the wide receivers. Following up certainly would've been great, but we think we had a little more possibility in Oakland to introduce people to a group of players and coaches that they haven't seen yet on the show.

"This audience is a very split audience. There are a lot of hardcore football fans and there are a lot of people who don't watch football at all and are just interested in meeting new people on a documentary program. This is a very large audience of non-football fans who are not involved in the football world. They just like the characters and the introduction of people trying to do their job at the top level on a premium network like HBO.

"These conversations that we've just had, we had for months over the summer. We sit around and look at the rosters, talk to the teams, look at the rosters, talk to the teams. It's a back-and-forth conversation with the teams, with HBO and comes down to a judgment call. Would one of those teams be better? Possibly. But we're pretty confident the Raiders would be great.

"We talked to the Browns about things all the time, so it's not like we didn't have the conversation. The conversation was had. Their level of interest certainly wasn't what it was last year. If they had volunteered, you would've known their level of interest was the same as last year. Was their level of interest the same? Of course not. They were attracted by the same thing. Hey this was a good thing for us last year. We wonder if it would be a good thing. And it turned out that all of us agreed that going in a different direction would be better."

It would be hard to imagine the Raiders with Jon Gruden, Antonio Brown and others won't be entertaining. But it's also hard not to wonder what the show would've been like featuring a team for a second year in a row. Obviously, not having Wylie with the Browns would've been a blow, but I have no doubt Odell would've made up for the loss.

You can listen to the podcast with Ken Rodgers beginning at the 29-minute mark below or on iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.

2. If you bet the Falcons on Thursday night, you already have suffered your first bad beat (Hi, Scott Van Pelt!) of the NFL season. Atlanta was +3 against Denver and leading 10-7 with just 1:28 left in the game. Then this happened. Final score: Broncos 14, Falcons 10.

3. The White Sox are the only team in baseball to install full netting and it paid off in a big way Thursday. Not because anyone's life was saved, but because we had this awesome visual of Mets outfielder Jeff McNeil looking like Spider-Man as he dove into the stands to make a nice catch.

4. I actually got a tinge of anxiety watching this video. I don't want to give spoilers, so just click play.

5. I did not hear this interview, but I seriously hope Clay Matthews said this sarcastically.

UPDATE: My good friend, Andrew Perloff, got cute with us.

6. Just a reminder for my fellow Yankees fans: This week's podcast not only features the discussion about Hard Knocks, but I have an interview with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman to kick off the episode. Hear what they think about their critics, their popularity with fans, how they feel about the "Ma and Pa Pinstripe" nickname and much more. So check it out.

7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: Stone Cold Steve Austin will be appearing on next week's SI Media Podcast, so we're going to feature him in Traina Thoughts for a few days leading up to the interview. Today's video features one of the loudest pops in WWE history at the 55-second mark.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

IN CLOSING: Dear LeBron, please save your "ether" for Monday when web traffic is high. Don't waste the "ether" on a summer weekend when we won't get as much traffic from said "ether." Thank you.

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