When it comes to the National Football League, it’s the secrets of what goes on behind the scenes that has always been intriguing. It’s kind of like Hollywood in that way. But Hollywood doesn’t bring you inside meeting rooms and locker rooms for an up-close and personal look at how an NFL franchise operates.
Whether it’s Amazon’s All or Nothing series, which follows a team for an entire season, or the show that started it all, Hard Knocks, which chronicles a team throughout its training camp, there’s nothing like getting to see something you shouldn’t be seeing. It’s part of the allure. It’s why I sit through them all — even the ones with teams I despise, like the Dallas Cowboys. But there’s something so appealing about seeing what goes on behind closed doors. To quote Hamilton: “I wanna be in the room where it happens.” So the next best thing? Hard Knocks.
The Oakland Raiders will be featured on Hard Knocks’ 14th season, and there are plenty of intriguing storylines to start thinking about. Whether it’s the Jon Gruden show or Antonio Brown or that Gruden/Derek Carr dynamic, there’s plenty to be watching for.
Here are 5 storylines we’re excited to see play out:
1. The Jon Gruden Show
Jon Gruden is a walking reality show. Seriously, the man belongs in front of a camera. Which makes the Raiders the perfect fit for Hard Knocks. There’s no doubt that Gruden will be the scene-stealer in this show — from his dealings with players and behind the scenes and his overall personality. Hard Knocks always has that star. And you don’t need to look further than Gruden for that star.
2. Antonio Brown Drama
Antonio Brown has become the focal point of chaos with the Raiders this offseason. From the drama he caused while still a Pittsburgh Steeler to the feud he caused with former teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, the camera follows Brown wherever he goes. There’s no doubt those feuds are going to be front and center when it comes to Brown. As well as the fact that he was brought in here to return the Raiders to relevance.
3. Derek Carr & Jon Gruden Dynamic
If there’s one thing I’m personally intrigued to see a camera shined on during Hard Knocks, it’s the dynamic between Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr. Carr, who is entering his sixth season, has underwhelmed thus far in his NFL career. Uniting him with Gruden was supposed to take Carr’s game to the next level. Only, that wasn’t necessarily the case in 2018. In fact, there was a lot of sideline drama between the two. I’m curious to see the day-to-day dynamic between head coach and quarterback, which is one of the most important in football.
4. The Impending Move
What better farewell to Oakland from the Raiders than with Hard Knocks? As the Raiders prepare for their big move to Las Vegas in 2020, there’s sure to be a ton of focus on the move. Think the Rams’ move from St. Louis to Los Angeles from three years ago. Only the Raiders aren’t actually moving this season. There’s sure to be plenty of internal drama, as well as plenty of drama from fans that are adamant about the Raiders remaining in Oakland. Sorry, it’s not going to happen.
5. Khalil Mack talk
As a Chicago Bears fan, I remain forever grateful to Jon Gruden for their stupid decision to trade one of, if not the best defensive players in his prime to my Bears. Gruden took a lot of heat, and rightfully so, for the decision. And while it’s now a season removed, you know for a fact that there’s going to be at least a mention of the Mack trade. How could there not? And I’m all here for it!
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Oakland Raiders premieres August 6 at 10pm on HBO.