Ready or not, the Cleveland Browns are getting their closeup.
Coming off a historic, dismal, 0-16 season, the Browns have been chosen to appear on HBO's popular “Hard Knocks” series, which gives NFL fans a behind-the-scenes look at training camp.
The Browns have turned down previous opportunities to be on the award-winning series. But with renewed optimism around Cleveland following the recent draft, including the selection of quarterback Baker Mayfield, the team is granting HBO unlimited access to its upcoming camp.
Cleveland is the 13th franchise to participate in “Hard Knocks,” which began in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were featured last summer.
Although they've won only one game the past two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, the Browns see the show as a possibility to highlight some of their younger players and put a positive spin on their rebuild.
And for HBO, Mayfield's quest to win the starting job is just one of several juicy story lines.
“NFL Films has always been exceptional at bringing fans closer to the game and they do an outstanding job with every show they produce, including HBO's ‘Hard Knocks,’” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. “We have been asked multiple times about being featured on ‘Hard Knocks,’ and we really felt like it was our turn this year and the timing was right. We want to be great partners in this league, and we also recognize ‘Hard Knocks’ gives fans a special opportunity to learn more about our team and players.”
HBO's cameras are certain to focus on Mayfield, the brash Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma the Browns chose over other quarterbacks. Mayfield is expected to back up Tyrod Taylor this season, but their competition could make for the kind compelling TV that has made the series a must-watch for football junkies.
A 30-person film crew will be at the team's training facility in Berea, Ohio, to record more than 2,000 hours of footage for the five-segment series, which will debut Aug. 7.
The Browns have some good young players who are not well known outside Cleveland. But “Hard Knocks” will give national exposure to budding stars like defensive end Myles Garrett, Mayfield and safety Jabrill Peppers and give the network a chance to tell the well-documented story of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has missed most of the past three seasons because of drug suspensions.