HBO announced Thursday that the Cleveland Browns will be the next team to appear on its award-winning docuseries Hard Knocks.
Whether this is good or bad news for Browns fans is unclear. On one hand, a behind-the-scenes look at their team will provide a thrilling set up for next season. On the other hand, there's the Hard Knocks curse. USA Today explains:
Two of the last four head coaches (Mike Smith, Jeff Fisher) featured on Hard Knocks were fired by season’s end, while only five of the 12 teams that have appeared on the series made the playoffs.
Neither of the last two playoff teams, the 2013 Cincinnati Bengals and 2015 Houston Texans, made it out of the wild-card round. None of the last three teams (Texans, Rams and Bucs) improved upon their previous season’s record — though that's a low bar for the winless Browns.
Those last two words get at why the Browns and their fans shouldn't be worried about a curse. They didn't win a single game last year! How could a winless team get worse?
It's nearly impossible to imagine Hard Knocks hurting the Browns in 2018 given how bad they were in 2017, but it's not so difficult for some people to think of how the show could harm the team longterm. And it's got everything to do with incoming quarterback and number one overall draft pick Baker Mayfield.
The Heisman winner is a big personality, which explains why HBO wanted the Browns for Hard Knocks, but it could also do real damage to have that personality exposed on national TV, Nancy Armour writes.
Mayfield’s competitiveness and his desire to prove himself will surely lead to some drama.
No doubt he’ll rub a veteran the wrong way, whether it’s Taylor, his offensive line or linebacker Christian Kirksey. He’ll show someone up, get under somebody’s skin and, eventually, there will be payback.
Similar scenarios will occur at the other 31 training camps, but only Mayfield’s miscues will be laid bare in the hot glare of the Hard Knocks cameras. By the time the season opens, the public will have made up its mind about Mayfield, and he’ll spend the rest of his career trying to undo the damage.
There's a reason that, just last month, Browns general manager. "I don't think there's anything good that comes out of Hard Knocks," he said.
For any other NFL team, he might have a point. But for the hapless Browns, who are young, interesting and have no where to go but up, this is probably the best time to be on Hard Knocks.