Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
HBO’s Hard Knocks is approaching sooner than most realize, and the New Orleans Saints would be the perfect fit for the reality show’s latest edition.
Think about it—Fresh off of the Bountygate scandal with head coach Sean Payton finally back from his suspension, the Saints have all of the drama, characters and intrigue to make for some darn good television. Not to mention, fans would simply watch because they love football.
Perhaps having the Saints on Hard Knocks would actually be a great thing for the NFL, rather than something to avoid because of the scandal. Regular fans will turn in regardless, but individuals who aren’t a fan of the sport may tune in just because they are familiar with the term Bountygate. It also helps the Saints are one of the most recognizable franchises in the sporting world.
For Saints fans, having the team on the show could be a dream come true. Payton usually takes a tight-lipped Bill Belichick approach to the media, but this could be a chance for him to clear the air around the organization and allow fans an intimate look at the team and its players.
The NFL is now forcing each team, including the secretive Payton, to install cameras in its locker room to display in stadiums (per NOLA.com). It’s just one barrier being torn down between the Saints organization and its fans, so taking another step with Hard Knocks doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.
There’s plenty of interesting things unfolding in New Orleans that don’t deal with the franchise’s past issues. Drew Brees is one of the world’s most popular athletes, but still doesn’t have a left tackle to protect him thanks to the departure of Jermon Bushrod.
Oh, and there’s also a guy named Rob Ryan, who happens to be taking over as the defensive coordinator. He’s an electric, albeit cocky character who will make for some absolutely amazing television as he interacts with players and media during practices and in the film room.
Let’s not forget that Ryan is also tasked with transitioning the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in the span of one offseason, which means new personnel being integrated into the roster, as well as old faces having to adapt and prove they can play in the new scheme or they may end up riding the pine, if making the roster at all.
It may not be the most popular opinion among Saints fans for the negative attention it can bring, but the Saints could wind up as the team on the 2013 edition of Hard Knocks. Some of the players even wanted to appear on the show last season:
Payton has turned down HBO several times in the past, but a little persistence can go a long way. The Saints were one of the teams in the running up until the last moment last year before HBO picked the Miami Dolphins. According to CBS, the Saints and other teams are still weary of the show because of Bountygate—One errant recording of Gregg Williams cost the Saints dearly. However, that fear is unfounded as HBO has more than proven to be friendly and not get NFL teams in trouble, and it’s equally unfounded because the Saints better have nothing to hide this time around with the league still having them under the microscope.
We haven’t heard official word on which teams HBO is considering for its 2013 season of Hard Knocks, but you can bet the Saints will be a primary target for the company for a multitude of reasons.