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Friday, May 11, 2012
Jets make a smart call: No 'Hard Knocks'

By Rich Cimini

It probably pained their management types to walk away, but the New York Jets made a smart move by saying no to HBO's "Hard Knocks."

Owner Woody Johnson wisely listened to Rex Ryan and his football people, deciding that no amount of free publicity was worth the distraction of having NFL Films cameras imbedded in their training camp for the second time in three summers.

The Jets need to be about football, about healing the locker-room fractures from last season, about doing everything possible for Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow to co-exist and about trying to master Tony Sparano's offense.

Sparano is from the Parcells school of clandestine operations, and you can bet he didn't want a TV camera inside his meeting room. This is a man who, in a conference call with reporters last week, refused to acknowledge they're planning to run the Wildcat with Tebow. You think he wanted his Tebow package on display in living rooms across America?

Yes, the Jets are reality show waiting to happen, but that doesn't mean Joe Coach Potato in Des Moines, Iowa, needs a front-row seat to their inner sanctum. Ryan and his staff deserve the chance to prepare for the 2012 season without having to be concerned with omnipresent TV cameras, and now they will have that opportunity.

Training camp will be a circus, of course, because the Jets signed up for the circus as soon as they traded for Tebow. But it will be in a controlled environment in Cortland, N.Y., their summer home. That wouldn't have been the case with "Hard Knocks."

More than anything, it would've sent a bad message. After last season's disappointment, the Jets must sell "re-dedication" to their fans, not show biz and glitz. When they did "Hard Knocks" in 2010, they were a feel-good story, coming off a successful first year under Ryan. The exposure actually helped the team raise its national profile.

But that was then. Johnson probably could've used the show to sell a few more PSLs and club seats, but he'll find them harder to move if his team sinks to the level of mediocrity. There's a time for "Hard Knocks," but this wasn't the right time.

But here's a guarantee: The Jets will be hard knocking in 2013.