HBO on Wednesday called Hard Knocks "the groundbreaking gold standard of sports reality TV."
But just how real is it? How much control over the content will the Buccaneers have?
At the official Hard Knocks announcement in Tampa, NFL Films director and producer Matt Dissinger cited the trust level his company has built with teams since it was founded 55 years ago. If there's sensitive material, NFL Films and the Bucs are going to talk about it, he said.
"Really what we're looking for is to not let any competitive advantage out," Dissinger said. "I think that over the years we've done a good job of developing the show to the point where we're really not interested in those things. I don't think our audience wants to hear what plays are being installed, and therefore, we really shy away from shooting that kind of stuff."
What about content that doesn't affect competitive balance and is just plain embarrassing? What if the team and NFL Films disagree?
That seldom happens, and if a conflict did arise, NFL Films wants to preserve its relationship with the team, Dissinger said.
"The (NFL) shield is on our paycheck," he said. "We're not TMZ."
Dissinger cited an example from last season's Hard Knocks, which filmed the Rams during training camp. On the first episode, we learned that quarterback Jared Goff didn't know where the sun rises and sets. The team didn't ask NFL Films to cut the scene to protect their No. 1 draft pick, and Goff "himself thought it was hilarious," Dissinger said.
As much as the Bucs and NFL Films talked about trust Wednesday, count on coach Dirk Koetter, or someone on his staff, watching the episodes before they air, just as defensive coordinator Mike Smith did in 2014, when he was coach of the Falcons.
"We have total confidence in HBO, NFL Films, guys that have been doing it a long time, but yeah, (the opportunity to screen episodes in advance) is one thing they provide," Koetter said.
In other words, what you see this August might be entertaining, but it's not necessarily real. And the Bucs are, at a minimum, tolerating it.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.