Even before the Cleveland Browns acquired superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr., they were one of America’s most interesting teams.
Last year, the Browns were featured on the HBO series “Hard Knocks” where fans all over the world got a peek inside Cleveland’s Training Camp. Personalities such as Jarvis Landry, Carl Nassib, Brogan Roback and Devon Cajuste helped make for one of the most interesting seasons in the show’s history.
“Hard Knocks” kicked off on Tuesday night featuring Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders, but the show’s producers strongly considered making another trip to Berea to highlight the Browns for the second consecutive year.
“It was very much a consideration and something we talked about internally and externally a lot,” Hard Knocks executive producer Ken Rogers told the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast last week. “What it would mean for the franchise to repeat a team twice in a row — not just the Cleveland Browns franchise, but the ‘Hard Knocks’ franchise.
“We’ve always felt like changing it up has allowed the show to be on the air for 18 years now. The reason why I think the show stays relevant is that we change every year. That being said, if we were ever going to repeat a team, it might have been this year with the Cleveland Browns repeating from last year.”
The Browns are still one of the most interesting teams in the NFL, especially after acquiring Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon from the Giants and signing Kareem Hunt. Not to mention, last year’s season featuring the Browns was nominated for three Emmy awards.
“Obviously Odell coming in would be a big storyline,” Rogers said. “It was a top consideration, no doubt.”
There’s certainly never a shortage of storylines with the Browns, either. Bob Wylie, a star of last season, isn’t a coach of the Browns anymore and made a handful of negative comments towards Freddie Kitchens and the team on ESPN earlier this week.
It remains unclear if the Browns ever remotely reciprocated interest in returning to HBO. Being featured on the show last year, and hiring a new head coach, the Browns had plenty of exemptions that would have allowed them to refuse being featured on the show once again.
Ultimately, HBO chose the Raiders. Rogers admitted that the level of interest surrounding the Browns wasn’t the same this season as it was after the team went winless.
“At the end of the day, we felt like the Raiders were equal in terms of storylines and a bit fresher in terms of some of the characters. We’d be continuing a story [with the Browns], but we’d lack the ability to introduce them.”