NY Jets head coach Robert Saleh made it very clear that his team did not want to appear on HBO's "Hard Knocks" when speaking to the media earlier this month. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it's going to matter.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported on Monday that "the Jets are bracing for the preseason Hard Knocks assignment." This is despite the Jets making it known publically and privately that they have no desire to appear on the show.
The Jets, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, and Washington Commanders are the four teams the NFL could force to be on the show as they meet the required criteria.
None of the four teams have a first-year head coach, none of them made the playoffs in the last two seasons, and none have appeared on the show within the last 10 years.
Florio notes that while the Jets, Saints and Bears have opposed the idea, the Commanders would accept it "if assigned." However, the NFL would prefer to wait until Washington's sale is finalized, which likely takes them out of the running.
With no other team willing to step up, the NFL is expected to force the Jets against their best wishes.
The NY Jets are expected to be on 'Hard Knocks' this summer
The NFL generally doesn't like forcing teams to appear on the shoe against their will, but they have done it in the past. In 2019, the then-Oakland Raiders vehemently opposed the idea of being selected for "Hard Knocks," but that didn't stop the NFL from choosing them anyway.
The league reportedly reached out to the Detroit Lions, last year's "Hard Knocks" team, to see if they wanted to appear on the show for a second year in a row. They declined the offer. That leaves the Jets, the NFL's preferred pick, as the obvious choice.
The Jets last appeared on "Hard Knocks" in the summer of 2010 in what is widely seen as one of the best seasons in the show's history. From Rex Ryan's antics to Antonio Cromartie's inability to recall his children's names, there were plenty of memorable moments.
Teams typically see "Hard Knocks" as a potentially unnecessary distraction, although it should be noted that the 2010 Jets did reach the AFC Championship Game. The HBO show seemed to have no impact on their success that season.
Still, no "Hard Knocks" team has ever gone on to win the Super Bowl. The Jets, currently with odds 20-1 to win Super Bowl 58, would be hoping to buck that trend.
The other complication is that the Jets already have their own documentary series, "One Jets Drive." The Jets are able to curate the show and dictate how they're portrayed to a wider audience. That ability is not available for teams doing "Hard Knocks."
It's easy to see why the NFL wants the Jets. Aaron Rodgers would be the primary focus of the show, but the Quinnen Williams contract situation, Breece Hall's return from injury, Mekhi Becton's road to redemption, and a number of engaging personalities on the roster would make the show must-watch television.
The Jets may not like it, but it seems inevitable that they will be forced to appear on "Hard Knocks" this summer. Get your popcorn ready folks.