As early as April 2009, the Cincinnati Bengals were being considered for Hard Knocks -- HBO's documentary that follows an NFL team during training camp. In fact, consideration has gone back for years; it was only then that Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown accepted. Despite lacking confirmation at the time, it became a foregone conclusion, finally settled when the Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed the news (some reactions at the time).
The announcement featured Lewis and NFL Films president, the late (and great) Steve Sabol.
"I think I have a good sensitivity about what can be shown and what can't," said Sabol during the announcement in 2009. "I would never show anything that would affect the competitive phase, give away terminology. I will say if something comes up, if there is a question in my mind, I will talk to Marvin. But that's something that has been left up to us. I want to sleep at night. Wednesday morning or Tuesday night if we have something in I say, 'Gee i don't know the background,' I certainly don't want to embarrass anyone. ... Maybe something in a coaching meeting, terminology that is very sensitive, we take that out. The bottom line is affecting the competitive phase. ... We wouldn't be here even talking about (a show) if there wasn't a trust factor."
At the time, Lewis was comfortable about the team's maturity level.
"I think our football team is beyond that point," Lewis said. "I think we've got a mature group of guys that are fighting for jobs. They won't notice the cameras. We know there'll be special things that guys will be a part of; I think that way we're mature enough. Steve has approached me before and we didn't come to the same conclusion. This time I did because I think we're in a different step in the team's maturity and where we are. I think it's great for our fans. I felt like we could handle this."
Remember, as a site, we've been around for a long time. We clearly remember the experience, highlighting and reviewing episodes. The first was an introduction of sorts, with mid-show highlights about Reggie Kelly's Achilles injury and the preparation of several training camp competitions.
The first episode of Hard Knocks was fun. Through the first ten minutes, the show put things into gear, focusing on the team's OTAs where players were separated into two teams competing through a variety of competitions; such as bench press, three-point contest, punt catch, football toss, the sledge-push relay and tug of war.
Fast forward to the day before training camp, which shows, what Marvin Lewis called a "tail gate" party of Bengals personnel (front office, coaches, etc) playing cornhole, eating and drinking. We saw Andrew Whitworth eating (healthy foods?) with his wife, packing and getting ready. Chris Pressley walked with his son on the field of Georgetown College. Carson Palmer and Chad were seen driving into Georgetown, stopped by the attendant asking for ID. Both were shocked. It was funny.
The second episode gained momentum, highlighting the full back, safety position battles and Chase Coffman being reamed by tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes.
You got a better understanding with Tight Ends coach Jonathan Hayes relationship with Chase Coffman; Hayes played with Paul Coffman for two seasons in Kansas City in 1986 and 1987. Hayes has known Chase since he was a child. During one coaches meeting, Marvin said to Hayes that Chase gets beat around a bit; to which the old family friend and tight end coach told Lewis Chase's nickname: Crash Dummy.
You can read further highlights for Episode III, IV and V.
We'll be doing the same thing this year, doing a post-show recap, probably an analysis with a corresponding open thread during each episode.