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HBO Cancels ‘Hard Knocks’ Due to Lockout, Lack of Team Interest

HBO Cancels ‘Hard Knocks’ Following Lockout
Last year’s "Hard Knocks" series, which featured the Jets, showed coach Rex Ryan curse more than 20 times in its opening episode. Photographer: Al Bello/Getty Images

“Hard Knocks,” the Home Box Office Inc. reality show where New York Jets coach Rex Ryan swore so much he apologized to his mother and was reprimanded by a former National Football League coach, won’t be done this year.

The five-episode series that documents NFL training camps won’t air due to the four-month lockout and football’s shortened offseason, HBO Sports and NFL Films said today in a joint e-mailed release. Last year’s series, which featured the Jets, showed Ryan curse more than 20 times in its opening episode.

“The uncertainty of the NFL’s summer schedule and the incredibly expedited timetable this month made it impractical for a team to commit,” the two parties said in the release.

The announcement comes four days after the NFL and its players ended a four-month lockout with agreement on a 10-year labor accord. Under the agreement, teams have begun to negotiate free-agent signings, make trades and sign rookies.

A 24-man NFL Films crew lived at the Jets’ training camp last season, and shot more than 1,000 hours of video in meetings, training sessions, dormitories and on the practice field. On the show, Ryan, 48, said the Jets would win the Super Bowl.

Ryan was chastised by former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an NBC analyst, during a radio show for cursing too much. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, when asked whether he watched the Jets on “Hard Knocks,” said, “I hate the Jets.” He also said he never watched it.

Ryan said his mother was disappointed by his cursing on the show, and she told the New York Post that the coach called her to apologize because he “knew in his heart that I was not happy with it.”

Teams Refuse

On May 16, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced on their Twitter page that they had declined HBO’s invitation to host the series, because “the team wants to keep the focus on the field in 2011.”

Four days later, Denver Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano announced that the team had also declined HBO’s request because of the lack of privacy. He said that the team might do a similar version of the show internally, using its own staff and video crew.

“Remember, this is why we have doors on bathrooms, and on bathroom stalls,” Saccomano said on the team website. “It is clear that HBO tries to be as unobtrusive as possible. But ’they’ still are not ‘us.’”

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said yesterday on Twitter that his team was asked to do “Hard Knocks” and declined because it “didn’t feel like it’d help us.” NFL Network also reported in May that the Atlanta Falcons discussed holding the show at their camp before deciding against it.

Special Edition

A 90-minute edition of “Hard Knocks,” produced from footage from past seasons, will premiere on Aug. 31. The special will feature previously unaired interviews and outtakes.

“We know football fans are hungry for compelling NFL programming and we think they’ll love the 10th anniversary special,” HBO Sports Executive Producer Rick Bernstein said in the release.

The series, which began in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens and has featured five different teams, will resume for 2012 training camp, according to the release.

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