- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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We may all still be waiting on the draft to start, but here's your reminder that training camp is less than three months away.
The clock is ticking on the NFL and HBO to announce which team will be featured on its annual "Hard Knocks" series this August. The Buffalo Bills are one of eight teams that the NFL can force to be on the show, as they haven't made the playoffs at least once in the past two seasons, they have a returning head coach, and they haven't appeared on the show in the last 10 years.
The Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the St. Louis Rams are the other teams that the league can compel to appear if no other team volunteers.
The Bills' odds of being featured seem slim. If the NFL were to force a team to appear, the Steelers, Giants or Bears would be the most likely choices. It's the same problem the Bills face in having the NFL's longest "Monday Night Football" drought -- they just don't have national appeal.
With that said, anything can happen. The Bills haven't given any indication that they would volunteer for the show, but if they did, there are some personalities in the locker room -- center Eric Wood and linebacker Brandon Spikes come to mind -- that might cater to television. The Bills also have a busy training camp schedule that includes trips to Canton, Ohio, for the Hall of Fame game, as well as joint practices in Latrobe, Pa., which could add another dynamic to the production.
Would it be good for the Bills, though? I think the classic tensions about the series would apply here: the business side of the Bills might look at it as a way for unique national exposure, while the football side might see it as an unnecessary distraction as the team tries to take a step forward.
What do you think?