Browns to be 2018 team for ‘Hard Knocks’

The Sports Xchange

May 17, 2018 at 11:26 am.

The Cleveland Browns will appear on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” training camp documentary series for the 2018 season, the network announced in conjunction with NFL Films on Thursday.

The appearance on the show will be the first for the Browns, who finished 0-16 last season under coach Hue Jackson and hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002.

“Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns” kicks off its five-episode season in the summer in Berea, Ohio.

“‘Hard Knocks’ returns with 91 football players determined to fulfill their NFL dreams, yet only 53 will succeed,” says Peter Nelson, executive vice president of HBO Sports. “The standard set by this landmark program is for fans to witness the truth as it unfolds: no staging, no second takes, no varnish. We are grateful to the Browns organization for allowing us to spend the summer with the team in what promises to be an intriguing training camp experience.”

NFL rules stipulate that a team is eligible to be selected if it hasn’t appeared on the show in the last 10 years, hasn’t reached the postseason the last two seasons, or didn’t just hire a new coach.

While the Browns meet those stipulations, it should also be noted that the sudden interest in the team could revolve around its use of the top overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. The Oklahoma quarterback will be in training camp alongside offseason acquisition Tyrod Taylor.

“The storylines in Cleveland are compelling, which make the Browns an ideal partner on Hard Knocks,” NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover said. “We’re looking forward to showing NFL fans around the world what the Haslams (owners), John Dorsey (general manager), Hue Jackson and the coaching staff are doing to rebuild the team and reboot one of the most iconic franchises in sports.”

The 28-year-old Taylor was among a series of moves made by Cleveland in the offseason, acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills in March.

Taylor guided Buffalo to the postseason for the first time since 1999 last season and already has drawn rave reviews from teammates along with an endorsement from Jackson.

Mayfield’s stock improved dramatically leading up to the draft. NFLDraftScout.com’s senior analyst Rob Rang initially projected Mayfield as the fourth quarterback to be taken, but moved him up to No. 1 in his final mock draft.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge learning curve for Mayfield, who passed for 4,627 yards and accounted for 48 touchdowns with just six interceptions while leading the Sooners to the College Football Playoff last season.

“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. Organizationally, we are confident about where we are headed, but we have a lot of work to do in order for this franchise to earn the respect of our fans on the field. We understand winning is ultimately most important to our fans. We’re looking forward to partnering with HBO and NFL Films to show how our team is working hard at training camp to prepare for the 2018 season.”

Jackson has been on “Hard Knocks” as an assistant coach.

“I’ve been a part of ‘Hard Knocks’ and when you experience it first hand, you come to appreciate the inside look it really gives fans,” Jackson said. “We are excited about what we are building within our organization and feel good about the progress we have made this offseason.

“Being able to bring our fans in so they can get to know our players and our organization in a different way will be a huge positive for us. I want people to see how much our players and coaches care, how hard they work and how badly they want to win for Cleveland. This will be a great opportunity for our team.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the team of choice in last season’s rendition of “Hard Knocks,” which began in 2001.