Teams I want to see on HBO's 'Hard Knocks'

Patrick Semansky/AP
Rex Ryan certainly made his presence felt on "Hard Knocks" the first time around. How about an encore performance?

News that the Jets would be interested if HBO's "Hard Knocks" came calling again is only slightly less surprising than finding out Derek Jeter's dating a hot new actress.

Television is a two-way street: To be a successful show, you have to present viewers with something you think is pretty cool, while at the same time having something that satisfies a craving for what people like to see. You can't just throw out something you think has enough of the cool factor without taking into account general interests. You won't survive (see: "Pan Am"). And you can't just be a show that you think fills a niche, or you'll get cancelled quickly ("Charlie's Angels"). See what I did there? Sort of Six Degrees of Minka Kelly.

Taking those principles into account, I've come up with a list of teams I'd like to see the most on this summer on "Hard Knocks." Many squads want to be on the show because they think it's cool, and that's fine. But only one thing really matters: Do they provide the storylines we want to see?

1) New York Jets: I don't need to give any reasons why they'd be the best, but how about this potential scene starring Rex Ryan ...


Jets meeting room, night time. Ryan stands in front of his players, who are seated in chairs, dressed in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.

Ryan: "OK guys shut up for a minute. [Players slowly stop talking.] Look, some (bleep) is gonna hit the fan because Revis played (bleeping) 'Password' on 'SportsCenter' last week. Anyway, this is not going to distract this (bleeping) team. And yes, Tim, I'm putting a fifty in the swear jar right after this meeting. Also, no one answer any more questions about our quarterbacks. Sanchez got ripped on TMZ, which usually loves him, so enough is enough. Santonio, if you're having trouble breathing during practice with that duct tape over your mouth, just suck it up. It'll help your stamina. Got it? Now let's go eat a ... [Pause as Ryan looks at Tebow.] ... gosh-dolly snack."


2) Dallas Cowboys: I know "Hard Knocks" is a reality show, but it isn't produced like its non-sports brethren. With the Cowboys, you'd have to really shoot it like a shameless reality show. Have confessionals (most involving Tony Romo after interceptions). Pit player against player in heated contests (DeMarco Murray vs. Felix Jones). Offer roster exemptions for spectacular achievements (on this squad, any DB who breaks up a pass). End every show with Jerry Jones giving a "Deadwood"-style soliloquy about whose roster spot may not be safe as he smokes a cigar in the dark of his office and cackles as the screen fades to black. And when all else fails, just take a camera and follow Dez Bryant to a mall.

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3) San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers would be like one of those old nighttime soap operas like (appropriately) "Dynasty." The heads (Yorks) of a huge oil corporation (49ers) have a son (Alex Smith) they've invested a lot of time and money in to eventually take over the company, even though he's been somewhat of a disappointment. Then a popular outsider (Jim Harbaugh) emerges, seemingly taking the son under his wing. But he's really just using him to get a superstar oil man (Peyton Manning) to join the business. That falls through, and now the son thinks everyone is out to get him, including the mysterious-but-never-seen Freddie P. Soft, and he doesn't know who is on his side. We watch this drama play out under the green fields of summer, and we wonder if the son has enough support to make it, or if he'll eventually be cast aside for a future young go-getter (to be played next season by Matt Barkley).

4) Denver Broncos: This is like the TV show that has a big movie star in the lead role because networks figure that's what everyone wants to see. But it's dicey. Sometimes it can work ("New Girl") and sometimes it doesn't ("Emily's Reasons Why Not"). So, would Peyton Manning be Zooey Deschanel or Heather Graham? I think it would be interesting for a little while, because just seeing Peyton in a Broncos jersey is going to draw people in. But eventually, when there's no controversy and it's just a good team getting better and gelling, viewership will drop off geometrically. By the final week, HBO will spread a rumor that the Broncos are trying to reacquire Tebow just to spark ratings, but it'll be too late.

Now, let's say none of the above teams can do it. I would go for any of the following teams IF they follow the formula I put forth. (I had to get a little outside the box, but remember, I have to sell the public on these teams.)

Cleveland Browns: The Browns would be terrific in a low-budget horror movie kind of way. You know, an ensemble cast featuring actors nobody has ever heard of. And slowly, they get picked off, one by one, by some maniac in a Dawg Pound mask whose weapon of choice is a big bone? That would be cool.

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Cincinnati Bengals: I'd like to see Cincy again, but only if you call it "Bengals Hard Knocks: Road House" and it takes place in a bar where Andy Dalton is the lead bouncer (Dalton!). He gets the girl and closes the movie by ripping out the heart of the bad guy (Ochocinco? T.O.? Mike Brown?).

Miami Dolphins: The Fins can be on "Hard Knocks," but Stephen Ross must be the star. It will be like "Contagion," except instead of spreading a virus, Ross just alienates everyone he comes in contact with. Eventually, players and coaches are all wearing surgical masks and gloves as they run away from Ross. In the end, it's just him, J. Lo, Gloria Estefan and Jimmy Buffett at a board room table discussing a plan to merge with the Buccaneers.

Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks that you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.



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