HBO officially announced Monday that its Hard Knocks series will feature the Cincinnati Bengals later this summer with the debut episode airing Aug. 6.
This will be the second time the Emmy Award-winning series will provide viewers with an all-access look at the Bengals after first featuring the team in 2009.
“With playoff appearances three of the past four seasons, the Bengals have built a terrific young team and we are extremely grateful to both Coach Marvin Lewis and the entire organization for agreeing to participate,” HBO Sports President Ken Hershman said in a statement. “The series has become captivating television with appeal far beyond the hardcore football fan.”
NFL Films will send a crew of 24 people to Cincinnati to shoot more than 1,250 hours of footage during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. The camera and sound crews will be given unrestricted access to the players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.
“We’re thrilled to again work with both the Cincinnati Bengals and HBO Sports,” said Howard Katz, COO of NFL Films and NFL Senior Vice President of Broadcasting. “In particular, we want to thank (Bengals president) Mike Brown for the trust he’s shown in NFL Films by allowing us access into Bengals training camp.
“This year’s Bengals squad provides us with a compelling combination of unique storylines: a veteran coaching staff, young superstars, high-profile free agents and an intriguing draft class,” Katz continued. “We can’t wait to see what will take place this year and look forward to collaborating with HBO, which has been the perfect partner for us since Hard Knocks debuted 12 seasons ago.”
The Bengals will be the second franchise to be featured twice on Hard Knocks, joining the Dallas Cowboys (2002 and 2008). The Bengals won the AFC North and went to the playoffs the last time they were on Hard Knocks in 2009.
“I really don’t think that matters or figures much into the decision,” said Lewis, who will be making his third appearance on Hard Knocks after working as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator in 2001 when the series featured the Ravens in its debut.
“Every day, every time is a new experience,” Lewis added. “As coaches and players, we just go into it knowing we have to do our jobs to the utmost. We have a grueling schedule, and expectations are very high, particularly among ourselves. We’ve got to take a workmanlike attitude from the very start.
“Hard Knocks is another element you have to be prepared to deal with,” he continued. “The NFL Films people are totally professional, so that’s not a worry. But it’s not like a normal day. One thing I did see as a positive last time was exposing our players to another group of people who are working hard every day the way we need to work. The diligence and the effort of the people on-site is very impressive.”