The offseason is going to an interesting enough for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the NFL could make things even more interesting for Mike Tomlin and company by forcing an unwanted distraction on them.
The NFL has had trouble in recent seasons getting teams to willingly volunteer to participate in HBO’s Hard Knocks documentary series, but it reportedly has the power to force eight teams to take part in the 2014 edition of the show.
NFL owners passed a rule in October that gives the league the ability to force certain teams into participating, a source told Ian Rapaport, per NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling.
Basically, if no team volunteers, the league can choose any team it wants, as long as it doesn’t meet the following criteria.
Teams that have a first-year head coach, made the playoffs in one of the last two seasons, or have participated in Hard Knocks within the previous 10 seasons are excluded, leaving just eight teams that the NFL could force to do the show.
You guessed it, the Steelers are one of those eight.
In addition to the Steelers, the NFL could also force the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams into participating.
After back-to-back 8-8 seasons, that is a distraction the Steelers don’t need and one Tomlin would absolutely hate. Perhaps no coach in the NFL is as closely guarded about his team as Tomlin and having cameras around every day may force him to blow a gasket.
Hopefully for the Steelers’ sake a team like the Jaguars, who have problems selling out their stadium, might be willing to do it for some added exposure.
Otherwise the Steelers need Hard Knocks as about as much as I need a hole in my head.