Hard Knocks Hands Steelers Extra Motivation

The Steelers shouldn't be concerned about the distractions of being on Hard Knocks.
Dec 4, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (97) and head coach Mike Tomlin walk to the locker room before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward (97) and head coach Mike Tomlin walk to the locker room before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will be under the microscope during a critical part of the 2024 season. In addition to navigating a roster full of newcomers and multiple competitions for starting positions, they will also have to balance having a film crew around for the final eight weeks of their season.

In a press release, the NFL announced that the Steelers would be one of four teamsparticipating in the 2024 in-season version of the HBO docuseries Hard Knocks. Joining them would be their divisional rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Cleveland Browns.

Every year, teams downplay and dismiss Hard Knocks. While some organizations volunteer, most avoid it like the plague, the Steelers being one of them. But why?

One of the most cited reasons is that the process can be too distracting to the team. It happened last year with the New York Jets and Head Coach Robert Saleh. During team activities last summer, he stated that he had no interest in the team participating in the widely watched program.

"I know there’s several teams that would love for Hard Knocks to be in their building, but we’re just not one of them," he told reporters at the time.

Hard Knocks ended up in their building, and Saleh and the Jets managed just fine. The Jets had a difficult season, but it had nothing to do with the cameras and film crew documenting their process. Sure, it can strain a team's day-to-day operations, but it isn't enough to drastically alter a team's season.

The Steelers might not be the most eager participant, but there is no need to buy into the hype of negativity. The truth is it's not a real issue unless teams make it one. Most coaches and players get used to having the extra people and equipment within a matter of days and business proceeds as usual.

If anything, the Steelers should feel motivated by being selected. Recent history says that being on the show can galvanize a team. The 2023 Jets aside, being the subject of a professional film crew can be positive. The Detroit Lions went 9-8 in 2022 and their head coach endeared himself to a national audience. Heading into 2024, the Lions are gunning for their second straight divisional title under the same coach. The year before the Dallas Cowboys went 12-5, and in 2020 the Los Angeles Rams were 10-6 after being featured.

While the team will be focused on the task at hand, being on Hard Knocks is an excellent opportunity for the Steelers organization. They have some of the most talented players in the NFL and this will give them a huge platform and spotlight. And hopefully, the spotlight is on the Steelers n the middle of a battle for the AFC North title.

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Jacob Punturi

JACOB PUNTURI

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