Imagining Tomlin on Hard Knocks, a Revenue Idea, and a Plea for More Creative and Well-Packaged Access to the NFL

LATROBE, PA - JULY 29: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks around during training camp on July 29, 2011 at St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

When it was announced on Friday that HBO Sports and NFL Fil;lms would not be producing another installment of the popular show 'Hard Knocks', I spent a few minutes thinking about the show itself, the pros and cons of participating, how good a job the producers must do at not airing footage that would violate the trust of an NFL team, etc. I didn't really even think about how cool it might be to see the Steelers featured simply because it seemed like such an impossibility that it wasn't even worth the time or certain disappointment of it never happening.

Imagine though if it did. I'm thinking just about all the 'Tomlinisms'. Endless entertainment and inspiration. Also, I give Tomlin credit for he handles the media, but to our detriment, we rarely get a real good glimpse in at his thoughts or the many dimensions of his personality and leadership style. The intensity level in his voice and words may rise at times, but he's awfully good at keeping to the message of 'no excuses, no distractions, we're busy preparing for only what lies immediately ahead.'

It'd be interesting to see more than just a few seconds of him interacting with this unique collection of Steelers, a group chock full of both young guys and veteran stalwarts that aren't that much younger than he is. Would be fascinating to watch, and I'd pay good money for the pleasure.

Actually made me think of a business plan for all 32 'struggling' NFL teams. Why not produce your own version of Hard Knocks and sell subscription packages for a pretty penny? You can control the message more so than when you cede substantial control to HBO's producers. With few exceptions, Steelers season ticket holders either live in or around Pittsburgh, somewhere within 2-5 hours driving range, or somewhere along the eastern seaboard where eight airline flights per year to Pittsburgh are nothing.

What about the millions of other Steelers fans who would make a similar kind of financial investment in 'experiencing' the Steelers beyond just television broadcasts, the internet and one or two games per year at most? Pretty sure others would be with me and pay good money for a much more comprehensive behind the scenes look at what kind of psychology and people management skills go into running an NFL football team. I suppose there might be issues of leaked information that could conceivably put them at a competitive disadvantage, but something tells me that the concern is less about that than it is about minimizing the risk of individuals tarnishing the 'brand' of the organization. Obviously that approach has worked very well in the NFL -- it's more about the team than the star players like in the NBA. Nevertheless, for our loyalty as fans, we should be rewarded with at least the opportunity to pay for more really creative access and content far beyond what we are currently offered.

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