Nobody wants to be part of Hard Knocks, the annual HBO documentary that covers the trials and tribulations of an NFL team as it gets ready for the upcoming regular season.
And when I say nobody wants to be part of it, I'm not just talking about coaches who have never met a camera or reporter they really wanted in their face. I'm talking about everyone. Yes, even the fans, people who otherwise can't seem to get enough football, often object to the idea of the true story of 80 or 90 people picked to live in a dorm and have their lives taped, etc, etc.
Honestly, what's the big deal?
Coaches hate it because they think it creates a distraction, but coaches are in no position to judge such things because, to reiterate, they can't seem to grasp the fact that the media will always be a part of their environment. And that will never change, no matter how much disdain they show for reporters and other members of the media, and no matter how much they try to dodge questions about the team.
As a team that hasn't made the playoffs for the past two seasons, the Steelers are eligible to be picked for the next installment of Hard Knocks, and I, for one, would love to see it happen--and I don't even have HBO.
It would be cool to see what goes on behind the scenes, such as the pressures that a rookie faces in his first training camp, and how the veterans treat and accept him.
It would be interesting to see how Todd Haley, the media and fan lightning rod of an offensive coordinator, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, often depicted as the oil to his OC's water, get along in the more casual moments.
With cameras around, would any good will on display be genuine? I don't know, but I highly doubt it would cause the offense to gain one less yard during the regular season.
I'd like to see head coach Mike Tomlin, who has never had a warm and fuzzy relationship with the media (at least judging by his weekly press conferences), depicted in a light where he's not so "coach-like." Tomlin is charismatic, personable and funny when he wants to be, but anytime he's around a reporter, he acts like he's in the company of a family member he really doesn't get along with.
After facing so much criticism for his sideline fiasco last year in the game against the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, wouldn't it be nice to hear Tomlin joke about it, or see his players rib him about the incident?
Coaches worry so much about distractions and getting their players ready, but how would a documentary crew really hinder the operation?
And the fans who are worried about it, do they really think the Steelers would win or lose any more games in 2014, based on dealing with producers and camera crews during training camp?
Network play-by-play announcers often speak about the production meetings they had with the more high-profile individuals of each team, such as the head coaches and quarterbacks, in the week before the game; how would Hard Knocks be much different?
And, again, it's not like it would be during the regular season, or even the Super Bowl. Speaking of which, you might say TVTV pioneered the whole notion of following a football team around, when it produced a documentary of the Steelers and Cowboys in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl X, back in January of 1976.
Neither Pittsburgh nor Dallas seemed very distracted with the camera crew and producers, considering the two teams went on to play the most exciting Super Bowl up to that point in the game's history.
In Their Life's Work, the great Steelers book that chronicles the years before, during and after the Super Bowl dynasty of the 1970s, there's a chapter devoted to the sauna at old Three Rivers Stadium, a place where the players went after a game to bond, unwind and, well, let off steam.
It would be fascinating to perhaps witness how contemporary Steeler players unwind and relax.
To sum it all up, I don't think it would be the end of the world if the Steelers were the team picked for Hard Knocks.
Could there be distractions? Perhaps.
Could there be embarrassment for the franchise brought on by a player saying something unsavory? Perhaps.
But in today's day and age of social media, an athlete doesn't need a camera crew to embarrass himself. All he needs is a cell phone and a twitter account.
The Steelers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs each of the last two years, and HBO wasn't around to cause any distractions.