In light of the NFL owners installing rules that will guarantee we’ll get to watch HBO’s “Hard Knocks” every season, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked about his thoughts on the program today.
I’m not sure if anyone has ever broached the subject with Harbaugh before, but the general assumption was that Harbaugh wouldn’t want to allow the world to see what happens during training camp in Santa Clara. He’s been known to be secretive whenever confronted with questions about injuries (“He’s working through something.”), scheme (“I don’t talk about scheme.”) or internal discussions (“I don’t talk about any kind of private conversations.”).
The best glimpses we get into what Harbaugh’s like with his players come when the postgame locker room speeches are released on the 49ers’ website after wins. You can check out the latest here from after the win over the Texans, with game balls going to Tramaine Brock, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Vernon Davis. Watching Harbaugh direct the players for the team photo during the Super Bowl also showed a little more about how the team acts behind closed doors than we see during games or even the relatively few practices made available to the media during the offseason.
But today Harbaugh sounded like he’d be happy to be on the NFL reality show … as long as each year’s invite was based on a team’s win/loss record.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had some strong words when he was asked about being on Hard Knocks, being compelled to be on Hard Knocks. What would be your take on being told that you have to appear on that television show?
“If that’s something we were in position to do, then we’d certainly do it. I think it’d be good if there was a, kind of a criteria. You knew because of where you finished. A team from the AFC, a team from the NFC was the Hard Knocks team that year. Similar to how staffs do the Senior Bowl based on their finish or coach the Pro Bowl based on their finish or coach the Super Bowl based on their finish. Maybe there could be something like that. A criteria. I think they have one or are discussing one. So, I think that would be something everybody would know going in. It would be fair, so it wouldn’t be arbitrarily assigned.”
So you’re saying that maybe the last place team gets to be on Hard Knocks the next year?
“No. Maybe you have the Super Bowl team and you have the team that played in the Championship Game, the team that had the bye. Maybe the team that had the third best record in the regular season was the Hard Knocks team next year. Just as an example, so it’s set. Similarly how they dot the Pro Bowl and Senior Bowl. Just a thought, just thinking out loud.”
But, the fact that they have cameras in meeting rooms, cameras in the GMs office, that seems to run counter to how you guys have operated. That wouldn’t bother you to have that scenario?
“Like I said, if there was a criteria where everybody knew going in that that was the team that would be assigned. There’s going to be teams that are going to be on Hard Knocks and that seems like a popular thing and something people want to see. So, I don’t see it going away. You could stamp your feet and say I don’t want to do it, but I don’t know how productive that is for anybody concerned. You might have people a year from now, some team that’s on Hard Knocks wins the Super Bowl and then everybody’s going to be, ‘why can’t we be on Hard Knocks, it’s an advantage to be on Hard Knocks.’ I don’t know. I’m just, again, thinking out loud. I’ve probably given that a lot more time than it needs to.”
Have you guys been tempted at all in these first three Jim Harbaugh training camps to go on Hard Knocks?
Have you talked about it internally?
“Haven’t been tempted, no.”
“Just haven’t been tempted.”
Have you ever watched it?
“Yes. I find it quite entertaining.”
It’s possible that Harbaugh is being diplomatic about “Hard Knocks” for the same reason he generally avoids complaining about officials — he doesn’t want to receive a call from the NFL. The rules discussed by the owners might have something to do with his comments, too:
The league still will ask for volunteers. If one is not forthcoming, a team will be appointed. All organizations will be eligible with the exception of those that have a first-year head coach; teams that have made the playoffs in at least one of the last two seasons; and teams that have participated in the previous 10 seasons.
Harbaugh probably figures the postseason exemption means he can avoid getting a “Hard Knocks” invite anytime soon, so why worry about it now?
Even though some players consider it an invasion of their workplace privacy (James Harrison comes to mind), it’s too bad we’d have to endure two seasons of poor football to see the 49ers on “Hard Knocks,” one of the better shows on television. Just think of all the Harbaughisms the nation would get to enjoy …