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Why a “Hard Knocks” life for the Steelers in Latrobe needs to happen in 2020

The Steelers are eligible to be featured on the HBO reality/documentary series. BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo verbally slug it out on whether or not this is a good idea.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Steeler Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis have differing viewpoints on the following subject. Join them as they slug it out in text below.

A “Hard Knocks” life for the Steelers in Latrobe needs to happen

Bryan Anthony Davis’ Point

Our Steelers have missed the playoffs two years in a row, but still are a very compelling team that piques many an interest among football fans of all ages. However, one of the side effects of not making the postseason in two consecutive seasons in the NFL is the eligibility to have your teams players and operations exposed on a reality show during training camp. The very thought of this is unsettling to Art Rooney II and Mike Tomlin. But to me, it’s glorious.

“Hard Knocks” is entering a 15th season since debuting in 2001 following the Baltimore Ravens after their first Super Bowl victory in 2001. The cameras follow every aspect of training camp and offer an inside look at the team while featuring individual players. There are three stipulations to inclusion and eligibility. The team couldn’t be on the show in the past ten seasons, be in the playoffs the previous two years and can’t have a first-year head coach. That leaves only five teams to be considered in 2020. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and, of course, the Steelers are on the list. Of the five, the Steelers offer the most storylines to viewers. To the NFL and HBO, that equals $$$$$$$. To Steelers management, that equals #$&@*%. In a press conference on New Years Eve, Mike Tomlin was asked whether the Steelers would be on the show if they were asked? ”Asked?” Tomlin replied. Art II elaborated last week when asked about the show by saying, “No word yet. Seems like it’s getting a lot of attention here. It’s one of those things that, if we have to do it, we’ll grin and bear it. I think if they ask us, ‘Are you volunteering for this?’, we’ll say no. It’s not necessarily a volunteer kind of situation anymore, as you know.”

I know a lot of you all are thinking. Absolutely not!!! You are worried about drama. The drama that this show highlights is an inside look in on the team that we as fans would love to see. You are worried about the distraction. These guys are used to media surrounding them and HBO does their best to minimize those and not interfere with practice. You were worried about the show showing secrets and things that you don’t want anyone else to see. HBO allowed Jin Gruden last say in the editing room the Steelers would have that as well.

As a fan, this would be amazing and I’m hoping it happens. As far as jeopardizing the season, the show will be a far memory for the players once the season begins.

Tony Defeo’s Counterpoint

Bryan Anthony Davis, perhaps it’s fitting that “BAD” is now your BTSC identity, because when it comes to the Steelers possibly appearing on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer, that’s a decidedly “BAD” opinion you just threw out there.

I wish I had the specific technical know-how, because if I did, I’d be like one of our readers and write out your title and put a line through the word “needs" or at least figure out a way to take the s off and put "does not" in front of "need." In other words, there is no way Hard Knocks “needs” to happen to or around our Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers need to be on Hard Knocks like Antonio Brown needs to live stream another embarrassing moment. Wait a minute, why am I talking about Antonio Brown when he’s no longer a Steeler? Wasn’t he the guy that brought so much drama to the organization in his final years before being shipped off to Oakland for draft picks in the third and fifth rounds? That’s right, he was. Did you notice that there was very little in the way of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers all throughout the 2019 training camp, preseason and regular season? Wasn’t that refreshing? Sure, Pittsburgh missed the playoffs for a second year in a row, but that was due more to the injury bug—specifically the one that infected quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s right elbow—than any sort of drama.

Why would you want to create an atmosphere that would surely be ripe for new drama? JuJu Smith-Schuster, and his omnipresent social media activity, is still relatively cute. But did you notice how I placed the word “relatively” before “cute”? Another year, and his constant mugging for the camera might start to turn some fans against him, a movement that may be hastened if Smith-Schuster spends next training camp trying to further his “brand” in front of a bunch of HBO cameras and producers who would do nothing but encourage him. Do you want that, or do you want JuJu focusing on catching the football, something he did just 42 times last year? Sure, this may have had a lot to do with the absence of Big Ben, as well as the knee injury that limited his playing-time, but maybe if he wasn’t off dancing and partying with college students at every turn, he may have had more time to heal his knee and get back into the lineup quicker. JuJu on Hard Knocks would be the equivalent of JuJu on social media steroids. No way anything good comes from that.

And what about the controversies that may arise between player and coach and player and player? What if head coach Mike Tomlin gets angry at one of his guys during training camp and yells at him? What if two players get into a fight during a scrimmage? Would HBO do the right thing and edit these confrontations out, or would that network, the same one that is responsible for so much of the naked smut that’s ruining the lives of youngsters, expose the ugliness to the entire world?

If anything like that got out, I would be embarrassed.

I would also be concerned about the possible distraction this would cause, considering all the questions a coach or player would have to answer following such a confrontation. I’m dead-set against any sort of distraction that forces a player to think about anything other than football; that’s why I chose to delete the damning footage I captured on my smartphone of an unnamed Steelers player throwing Hunt’s ketchup into his cart at one of the Giant Eagles on McKnight Road two years ago. Nobody knew about this controversy. No player had to answer questions. Why? Because I care about my Steelers and the focus that’s required to get ready for a football game or season.

And what about bulletin board material? Do we really need another incident, such as the Facebook Live fiasco that occurred after that playoff victory over the Chiefs? In case your memory is fuzzy, Bryan, AB captured locker room audio of Tomlin telling his players that he wanted them to defeat the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, a quote that fired up a team that may have otherwise not been quite as motivated to get to the Super Bowl.

Speaking of New England, what about the cheating angle nobody seems to consider when this Hard Knocks nonsense is brought up? Do we really need camera crews filming the Steelers as they’re formulating game-plans for an entire season? You might say no X’s and O’s would ever be revealed to the public, but this is Bill Belichick we’re talking about, a man who will do whatever it takes to win. My buddy’s brother’s girlfriend’s best friend rents a place down by the SouthSide Works, just a few blocks away from the Steelers practice facilities on the South Side. She said that, anytime the Steelers are scheduled to play the Patriots, a mysterious person just shows up at the apartment right across the street from the practice field that same week. For some reason, this person seems to love to sit on his balcony and “read a magazine” whenever the Steelers are practicing. This “pastime” goes on for a few days and ends shortly after the Friday walk-through, whereupon the “tenant” in question gets into an Uber but not before throwing a bunch of “luggage” into the trunk. Suspicious, yes?

What happens if Belichick finds a way to access a month’s worth of unedited training camp practice footage?

Finally, the idea of the Steelers appearing on Hard Knocks is blasphemous, and I can’t believe any die-hard fan in his or her right mind would ever endorse such a thing.

To echo my fellow Steelers fans, not just no, HELL NO!!!!!!!!

So...what are your thoughts? Which one of us gets to bask in the glory of being right this week? State your case in the comments section and be sure to vote in the poll. Tony is now 3-12 on the season, while BAD is still in firm control of a meaningless honor. Can Tony get another streak going or will BAD continue his inexplicable record of being least objectionable? Vote and state your case in the comments.


Do you agree more with Tony Defeo or Bryan Anthony Davis on how Steeler Fans would receive the Steelers on HBO’s Hard Knocks?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    BAD is right: The Steelers on HBO would be awesome.
    (125 votes)
  • 67%
    Tony is right: It’s a horrible idea.
    (259 votes)
384 votes total Vote Now