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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Hate to admit it but the Bucs would be perfect for Hard Knocks

Jameis Winston could be ratings gold. He drips charisma, Rick Stroud writes.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Jameis Winston could be ratings gold. He drips charisma, Rick Stroud writes.

20

February

Jameis Winston could be ratings gold. He drips charisma. Cut to Winston driving in the dark to One Buc Place. Interacting with coaches and teammates. Oh, the motivational moments. (“We some dogs, we ain’t no puppies!’)

Mike Evans is a budding superstar, but not shy about speaking his mind. Kwon Alexander and Robert Ayers might require some bleeps. Gerald McCoy is constantly counting his blessings. Coach Dirk Koetter is a heck of a lot more intense than anybody outside of One Buc Place realizes.

The Bucs are among the eight potential teams that can be mandated by the NFL to appear on the HBO series Hard Knocks for 2017. It’s hard to imagine the franchise will ever lobby to become part of the weekly preseason program. But there is an upside to marketing your product, especially if the arrow is pointing up.

The Bucs are coming off a 9-7 season where they narrowly missed the playoffs. It’s an important year and tension is good television for the NFL Films production.

Because of the Bucs' penchant for firing and hiring head coaches, they’ve managed to duck selection. Because of a dwindling list of volunteers, the NFL can require a team to participate in the show unless it meets one of three conditions for taking a rain check. They include if a team has hired a head coach this off-season, made the playoffs in either of the past two years or appeared on the show in the past decade.

That leaves the Bucs among seven other candidates, in no particular order: The Browns, Bears, Ravens, Saints, Eagles, Titans and Colts. The people dreading the intrusion of HBO cameras more than NFL teams are the reporters who cover them. The teams ultimately have editorial license. They can declare a meeting or areas off-limits.

But more often than not, you learn what goes on behind the scenes, particularly with the decision-making involving personnel. Who wouldn’t want to see how Jason Licht operates? You get to see the human side of the NFL, and while sometimes it’s a lot like learning how sausage is made, you can’t look away.

Dreams die, others are realized. But the production quality is outstanding. The music, the spiraling footballs in slow motion, adds to the drama.
The biggest downside is exactly the reason it’s compelling – it’s incredibly intrusive. Imagine inviting a big television crew, with its boom microphones, into your workplace. As former Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards can tell you, players start trying to attract the camera. Others can become jealous of a player’s exposure.

That aside, you can see why the Bucs would have to be a legitimate target for the show and an announcement is expected sometime next month.
There are bigger markets and ratings is king in television. But the Chicago Bears are boring and they may be ready to move on from dour quarterback Jay Cutler. The Eagles (Carson Wentz) and Titans (Marcus Mariota) also have young, ascending quarterbacks. The Saints can market civic icon Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton. The Colts and Browns have dysfunctional drama. As for the Ravens? Meh. Joe Flacco and the wrong coach Harbaugh.

In many ways, the Bucs are a perfect choice for the NFL’s top reality show. And as Winston always says, ‘Real recognizes real.’

[Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2017 12:44pm]

    

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