Hard Knocks in Store for Lions

Success usually doesn't follow the TV cameras

The Detroit Lions are the 15th team to be featured on the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” spending this summer in training camp with the cameras of NFL Films and a national television audience.

Personalities will emerge and story lines will develop. It can be entertaining…but the franchise shouldn’t count on the experience becoming rewarding.

“Hard Knocks” has been around since 2001 featuring 18 teams in the 17 summers NFL Films has been a training-camp guest. Not a one of the 18 teams went on to play in the Super Bowl that season. One reached a conference championship game and only four won division titles. Seven qualified for the playoffs – but their combined post-season record   was 4-7.

The 2010 New York Jets reached the playoffs as a wile card with a 10-6 record, then claimed two of the four “Hard Knocks” playoff victories on the way to the AFC championship game.

The Dallas Cowboys appeared three times on “Hard Knocks” and the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams twice apiece. The Bengals went on to win a division title in both of the seasons they were featured on “Hard Knocks” and the Cowboys captured one division title – and that came last season when they claimed the NFC East with a 12-5 mark.

The 2015 Houston Texans also overcame the “Hard Knocks” jinx to win an AFC South title – but all four of those division champions went winless in the post-season.

The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were the first team featured on “Hard Knocks” in 2001. The Ravens went 10-6 to claim an AFC wild-card spot and then won a playoff game before departing from the post-season. The 2020 Rams were the only other “Hard Knocks” graduate to win a playoff game after a 10-6 wild-card season.

The 12 victories by the 2021 Cowboys were the high-water mark for a “Hard Knocks” team. At the other end of the spectrum, the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs and 2016 Rams both finished 4-12 and the 2002 Cowboys and 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers both went 5-11. The Cowboys fired Dave Campo after that season – one of two “Hard Knocks” coaches to get the axe. The 2014 Atlanta Falcons also fired Mike Smith after a 6-10 season.

“Hard Knocks” did not follow any teams in the summers of 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2011. In one summer, two teams from the same city were featured, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Rams, in 2020.

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