Steelers Favorites to Host HBO's Hard Knocks

Noah Strackbein

PITTSBURGH -- In an offseason filled with question marks and the constant apologies of their former wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers could find themselves in a bigger spotlight this summer in training camp than they could've imagined. 

At the end of the 2019 season, head coach Mike Tomlin laughed at the thought of HBO's Hard Knocks coming to Pittsburgh. Admitting the television show didn't cross his mind at the time, Tomlin acknowledged he doesn't have much of a say in the matter. 

As one of five teams that meet the criteria for the show - no first-year head coach, missed the playoffs back-to-back years, and haven't appeared on Hard Knocks in the last 10 years - Pittsburgh seems to be the front-runner for HBO's options. 

According to NFL.com, out of the five eligible teams, the Steelers are at the top of the list. 

They're the heavy Vegas favorite for a reason. The Steelers are NFL blue blood royalty and come fully loaded with one of the most passionate fan bases in the sport. Let's face it: Franchises of the Steelers' quality don't show up very often on Hard Knocks. If you apply the current inclusion rules to the entire run of the show (which dates back to 2001), Pittsburgh would have been an option for mandatory inclusion just once before 2020. So NFL Films and HBO have a window here, and it might not stay open long. Throw in Ben Roethlisberger's return from a major elbow injury, engrossing human interest stories around guys like Ryan Shazier and James Conner, and the completely inevitable Wiz Khalifa camp visit, and Pittsburgh is a slam dunk No. 1 choice.

With a Hall of Fame quarterback returning from reconstructive surgery, a young and talented defense and personalities like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Zach Banner, HBO knows why the city of Pittsburgh is a good place to call home this summer. 

The Steelers are now in the minority holding training camp away from home and the old-time camp feel at Latrobe, Pa., will certainly make for a compelling backdrop for a compelling team..

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