Hard Knox is about to finally see a hardball.
The NFL revealed Thursday night that the hugely popular Emmy-winning docuseries, which has traditionally followed one team through training camp since the show premiered in 2001, will finally track a team through the regular season.
“Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts” will appear on Wednesday, November 17, on HBO and HBO Max, three days after the Colts hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars in their tenth week. Qualifiers if the ponies qualify.
“We couldn’t be happier to bring Hard Knocks and the incredible behind-the-scenes access it provides for the entirety of the NFL season,” said Ross Kitover, chief executive officer of NFL Films.
“Thanks to HBO, along with an amazing collaboration from Colts, we’re able to offer a groundbreaking new edition of the series.”
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Perhaps a new approach to “Hard Knocks” could not have come at a better time. Shrinking the pre-season schedule has drained some of the drama from this summer’s latest release, which featured the Dallas Cowboys. Regular season NFL teams have been documented before — Amazon’s All or Nothing tracked a club every season from 2015 to 2019 — but viewers couldn’t get past that pigskin rope until months later.
Given this new opportunity to get a near-real-time overview of the 2021 Colts, here are six things we’d like NFL Films to track:
Carson, Colts and COVID-19
New Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz is among the most notable non-immune NFL players, and close contact cost him a week of pre-season training while trying to come back from foot surgery. The Colts have collectively fallen behind other teams in terms of their willingness to take shots, and All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard is among the standout players even as coach Frank Rich and general manager Chris Ballard urged players to get vaccinated.
Wentz said there is no way of knowing how things will develop now over the coming weeks He did not rule out vaccinating him after returning to the team Nor how the delta variable will shape the conversation about the epidemic after two months. And certainly no one wants to see the Colts or any team suffer a viral hack.
But given how the NFL wants to continue to educate players and the inherent machinations of the quarterback — and his teammates — resist that effort, it would be great to see the stricter protocols that Wentz and Co. Dealing with it during the work week…not to mention hearing more from him and other players (vaccinated or not) and whether their views are evolving.
Production of “Hard Knocks” during the season will dramatically change the show’s familiar camp tempo. Although we are unlikely to get much, if any, from exposure to the X and O and the rulebook, hopefully this iteration will at least provide insight into the overall level of Indy Games setup and goals and the subsequent understanding of how well they (or weren’t) t ) verification. Some measure of Monday’s postmortem, especially in serial form, is the kind of quick access any NFL fan craves.
It’s rare to get a real appreciation of what many NFL players endure just to step onto the field. Four-time Pro Bowl wideout TY Hilton is currently in that bucket, relegated to injured reserve while recovering from neck surgery. If he doesn’t come back until mid-November, glancing at his daily regimen while he’s trying to come back might be interesting to many casual fans.
behind the scenes
We’ll get at least nine installments of Colts content…but NFL Films won’t be able to count on the good stories of marginal players – or even those who don’t make it – to fill in the time. There is no better opportunity to plunge deeper into the routines of equipment managers, coaching staff, support staff and others who often provide the unspoken lifeblood of the football establishment.
Behind the scenes of farewell week
The Colts will be shutting down in Week 14, but it looks like the show will continue. Be kind to see how NFL players really live with a week away instead of a random August day off. You can bet that Wentz is going to go fishing somewhere. But it looks like All-Pro guard Quinton Nelson will be a fun person to follow, while junior defensive end Kwity Paye might provide some heartwarming moments given how far he and his family have come from war-torn Liberia.
It wouldn’t just be a “hard hit” without some sort of offbeat subplot. Enter sophomore Rodrigo Blankenship, who has a penchant for LEGO – especially “Star Wars” minifigs. What better way to spend a Tuesday, usually an NFL day off, than watching the bespectacled sniper parade the latest clone soldiers?
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