Hard Knocks (TV series)

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Hard Knocks
Genre Sports
Reality television
Documentary series
Created by Marty Callner
Developed by HBO Sports
NFL Films
Starring Baltimore Ravens (2001)
Dallas Cowboys (2002)
Kansas City Chiefs (2007)
Dallas Cowboys (2008)
Cincinnati Bengals (2009)
New York Jets (2010)
Miami Dolphins (2012)
Cincinnati Bengals (2013)
Atlanta Falcons (2014)
Narrated by Liev Schreiber (2001-2002 & 2008-present)
Paul Rudd (2007)
Composer(s) Dave Robidoux
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 37
(6 in 2001 and 2002, 5 in each season from 2007 on)
Executive producer(s) Steve Sabol
Rick Bernstein
Ross Greenburg
Marty Callner
Producer(s) Ken Rodgers
Keith Cossrow
Location(s) Varies
Running time ~55 minutes (commercial-free)
Original channel HBO
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Dolby Digital 5.1
Original run 2001 (2001) – present
External links

Hard Knocks is a reality sports documentary television series produced by NFL Films and HBO.[1] The show was first broadcast in 2001, and the current 2014 season is the ninth. Each season, it follows a National Football League (NFL) team through its training camp and covers the team's preparation for the upcoming football season.

The series shows the personal and professional lives of the players, coaches and staff, including their family life, position battles, and even inside jokes and pranks. It particularly focuses on rookies' adjustments to playing in the NFL, usually with emphasis on the team's most recent top draft pick. It usually also chooses to focus on undrafted and journeyman players who are attempting to make the team such as Cameron Fegreus (free agent from Woodhaven, MI).

The NFL and HBO have called Hard Knocks "the first sports-based reality series" in television history.[2][3]


The series was created by Marty Callner in 2001.

The series has been narrated by Liev Schreiber since 2001, with the only exception being the 2007 season which was narrated by Paul Rudd, a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.[4]

The San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, and Washington Redskins each declined to be the show's featured team for the 2013 season, while the Cincinnati Bengals accepted, marking their second appearance on the show. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell subsequently said that he wanted more teams to be featured on the series, on "some kind of formal rotation."[5][6]

Despite the difficulty each year in finding a team willing to participate, NFL Films announced on July 18, 2013, that it had signed a "multiyear" contract extension with HBO to continue producing the show.[7]

On October 8, 2013, the NFL announced that one team each year will be required to participate in Hard Knocks. Teams may still volunteer to be on the show. Teams with new coaches, teams that have been in the playoffs at least once in the past 2 years, or teams that have done the show once in the past 10 years are exempt from being forced into appearing on the show. [8]

On June 12, 2014 it was announced that the Atlanta Falcons will be the team featured on this season's edition of Hard Knocks.


Hard Knocks narrator Liev Schreiber

Baltimore Ravens (2001)[edit]

Some of the issues covered in the 2001 Ravens season include:

Dallas Cowboys (2002)[edit]

Some of the issues covered in the 2002 Cowboys season include:

Jacksonville Jaguars (2004)[edit]

Kansas City Chiefs (2007)[edit]

Actor and Chiefs fan Paul Rudd narrated the 2007 season of Hard Knocks

The series returned on August 8, 2007, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and their preparations for the 2007 season.[9] It is the only season of the series not narrated by Liev Schreiber; instead, actor and Chiefs fan Paul Rudd was the narrator.[10]

Some of the issues covered in the 2007 Chiefs season include:

Dallas Cowboys (2008)[edit]

The Dallas Cowboys were chronicled for the second time on the television series' fourth season, which premiered on August 6, 2008.

Some of the issues covered in the 2008 Cowboys season include:

Cincinnati Bengals (2009)[edit]

The Cincinnati Bengals season premiered on August 12, 2009.[11] Its ratings were higher than any previous season of Hard Knocks,[12] and it won two Sports Emmy Awards: one for Outstanding Edited Sports Series or Anthology, and one for Outstanding Post Produced Audio / Sound.[13]

Some of the issues covered in the 2009 Bengals season include:

New York Jets (2010)[edit]

The New York Jets were chronicled in the series' sixth season. An official announcement was made on March 25, 2010,[16] and HBO began airing it on August 11, 2010. It won the series' second consecutive Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Series or Anthology.[17] The Jets declined another opportunity to appear in the series in 2011.[18]

Some of the issues covered in the 2010 Jets season include:


At the end of July 2011, NFL Films announced it would not be producing Hard Knocks for the 2011 season.[22] No team wanted to commit to the series due to uncertainty with the NFL's labor situation. A retrospective on the series titled Hard Knocks: A Decade Of NFL Training Camps was made featuring clips from every episode made to that point, and including comments looking back on the series from Brian Billick, Shannon Sharpe, Mike Westhoff, and others.

Miami Dolphins (2012)[edit]

On May 29, 2012, Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin announced that the team would participate in the 2012 season of Hard Knocks.[23] The first episode of the 2012 season is currently freely available to stream in the U.S. on HBO's website.[24]

Some of the issues covered in the 2012 Dolphins season include:

Cincinnati Bengals (2013)[edit]

The Cincinnati Bengals were featured in the 2013 season, which was the team's second appearance on the show. The first episode of the season premiered on August 6, 2013.[32]

Some of the issues covered in the 2013 Bengals season include:

Hard Knocks filming crew with Jermaine Gresham, 2013

Atlanta Falcons (2014)[edit]

Hard Knocks film crew at Atlanta Falcons training camp, 2014

On June 12, 2014, the Atlanta Falcons announced that the team would participate in the 2014 season of Hard Knocks premiering on August 5, 2014.[33]

Some of the issues covered in the 2014 Falcons season include:

  • The Falcons attempt to build more toughness into the team after a disappointing 2013 season.
  • Veteran Kroy Biermann's attempt to return from a major injury and switch positions.
  • Rookies Tyler Starr and Jaques Smith's attempt to make the team.[34]

Similar productions[edit]

Inside Training Camp: Jaguars Summer[edit]

In 2004, NFL Films produced a training camp documentary series, similar to Hard Knocks, that featured the Jacksonville Jaguars. Called Inside Training Camp: Jaguars Summer,[35] it aired on the NFL Network, not HBO, and was narrated by frequent NFL Films narrator Robb Webb.[36]

Some of the issues covered in this 2004 series include:


  1. ^ "Conflicting Reports on New York Giants Being Finalist for HBO’s Hard Knocks". 
  2. ^ HBO Sports, NFL Films and Miami Dolphins join forces for “Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Miami Dolphins” debuting August 7 - NFL Communications
  3. ^ HBO: Hard Knocks: About the Show
  4. ^ "Famous Kansas Citians: Actor Paul Rudd". VisitKC.com. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Roger Goodell talks "formal rotation" for Hard Knocks - NFL.com
  6. ^ Goodell brings safety message to town - Bengals.com
  7. ^ NFL Films, HBO sign multiyear Hard Knocks extension - NFL.com
  8. ^ http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000259014/article/owners-pass-hard-knocks-rule-at-nfl-fall-meeting
  9. ^ Chiefs to be featured in HBO's "Hard Knocks" this summer KCChiefs.com, June 2, 2007.
  10. ^ Famous Kansas Citians: Actor Paul Rudd - VisitKC.com
  11. ^ Bengals home on HBO
  12. ^ Sabol: Best "Hard Knocks" Ever by Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com, September 9, 2009.
  13. ^ "Hard Knocks" earns two Emmys
  14. ^ Hard Knocks: Reggie Kelly's injury - NFL.com Video
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Hard Knocks" revisited: Best of NFL's summer drama - NFL.com
  16. ^ Jets Sign On to Star in HBO's "Hard Knocks"
  17. ^ The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Announces Winners of 32nd Annual Sports Emmy Awards
  18. ^ Bigger Threat to the New England Patriots in the AFC East: New York Jets or Buffalo Bills?
  19. ^ Hard Knocks: Let's go eat a snack - NFL.com Video
  20. ^ Hard Knocks: The Darrelle Revis meeting - NFL.com Video
  21. ^ Hard Knocks: Antonio Cromartie's kids - NFL.com Video
  22. ^ No NFL team taking "Hard Knocks" - ESPN.com
  23. ^ Miami Dolphins will be on HBO's "Hard Knocks"
  24. ^ "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Miami Dolphins" - Episode 1
  25. ^ Ryan Tannehill named Dolphins' starting quarterback
  26. ^ David Garrard's absence clears up Dolphins' QB race
  27. ^ David Garrard released by Miami Dolphins
  28. ^ Farrar, Doug (August 15, 2012). "Chad Johnson’s Dolphins release makes for tough, emotional "Hard Knocks"". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  29. ^ Hard Knocks: Chad Johnson gets released - NFL.com Video
  30. ^ Dolphins trade Vontae Davis to Colts for draft picks
  31. ^ Hard Knocks: Vontae Davis traded to Colts - NFL.com Video
  32. ^ "Cincinnati Bengals again will headline Hard Knocks". NFL.com. June 17, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Atlanta Falcons to be featured on HBO's 'Hard Knocks'". NFL.com. June 12, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  34. ^ http://backgrinder.com/2014/08/06/hard-knocks-atlanta-meet-falcons/
  35. ^ Jacksonville Jaguars 2004 Season Preview by Mike Cowan, September 4, 2004.
  36. ^ "NFL Canada > NFL Network: On-air talent". Retrieved August 29, 2012. Inside Training Camp: Jaguars Summer > Rob [sic] Webb: Narrator 

External links[edit]