The Rams are ready for their close-up.
They are this summer’s “Hard Knocks” team, the centerpiece of a critically acclaimed HBO series that provides an all-access look at training camp through the lens of NFL Films.
“It’s clear both in Southern California and nationwide there’s significant interest in the return of the Rams to Los Angeles, and it seemed like a very good year to give people a look at our franchise and our players,” said Kevin Demoff, the team’s chief operating officer.
“We have one of the youngest teams, a lot of talented players — back-to-back rookies of the year — that we want people to start to get exposure to. What better way to do that than ‘Hard Knocks’?”
Also coming out of the annual NFL owners meetings Wednesday was a decision to make the Rams the home team for a 2018 regular-season game in China.
The hourlong “Hard Knocks” is in its 11th season and kicks off its five-episode season Aug. 9 at 10 p.m. The show airs each subsequent Tuesday, culminating with the Sept. 6 finale.
The drama and characters of training camp will be a major focus of this summer’s show, as always, but so will the team’s relocation. In fact, footage already is being shot.
“This was the perfect team at the perfect time,” said Ken Rodgers, an NFL Films coordinating producer and the show’s supervising producer. “It’s such a historic moment in NFL history, and one that NFL Films hasn’t really documented in the past.
“Previous teams that have moved, it wasn’t something that we had covered fully like we’re going to cover the Rams. What we try to do on the show is find a team that’s going on a mission, that’s going somewhere. Having a team that’s not only trying to get somewhere but is also physically moving just adds to the drama of training camp.”
At Rams training camp will be a 30-person NFL Films crew that will shoot more than 1,500 hours of footage that ultimately will be pared down to five hours of programming. “Hard Knocks” has won 12 Sports Emmys.
As for whether it will be a distraction, the Rams can point to this: The last six “Hard Knocks” teams have matched or improved their win-loss record from the previous season, and the Cincinnati Bengals (2009, 2013), New York Jets (2010) and Houston Texans (2015) all made the playoffs in the season they were featured.
“Everybody we’ve talked to that’s gone through the process has found it to be enjoyable,” Demoff said. “That’s one of the reasons we volunteered to be part of ‘Hard Knocks.’ We really thought this could help our franchise get off to a successful start.”
Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said he’s not concerned that being a “Hard Knocks” subject will put his team at a competitive disadvantage.
“The thing that I think people don’t realize is you actually have final say in what’s aired,” he said. “So if there’s something that’s sensitive or there’s something competitive or there’s some terminology on the board, no, they’re not going to use it. They’re really good to work with from that standpoint.”
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