Rams eligible but unlikely for 'Hard Knocks'


EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams are one of the teams eligible to be selected by HBO to participate in the documentary series "Hard Knocks" again this season. The show follows a team through training camp, focusing on interesting position battles, long shots to make the roster and how the team handles its business day to day.

But just because the Rams are eligible doesn't mean they'll be appearing on the show. Under the league's guidelines, there are two criteria a team can meet for HBO to have the ability to select it. Teams that have first-year coaches, have made the playoffs in the past two seasons or have appeared on the show in the past decade are exempt from the show.

The Rams are eligible because coach Jeff Fisher is entering his fourth season, the team hasn't been to the playoffs since 2004 and has never appeared on the show.

In theory, HBO and the league can "force" the team to participate if another team doesn't volunteer, but it's been clear that none of the parties would want to put a team on the show that is uncomfortable doing it.

The Rams have been in position to be selected before, but have repeatedly made it clear that they have no desire to do so. In fact, last year seemed like perhaps the ideal time to appear because the team looked to be ascending and had the story of Michael Sam attempting to make the roster. They not only made it known they didn't want to appear, but the team also turned down Sam's attempts to have a documentary about him on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

At the time, Fisher told the Associated Press that any outside distraction wasn't welcome.

"Not good for the locker room," Fisher told the AP. "Nor Mike to get involved at this point."

Given the Rams' current situation with a possible relocation hanging over their head, a change at quarterback and an emerging defense, they might make an interesting subject for the series. However, one could argue with the possible distraction of a move hanging over their head, adding television cameras to the mix might only exacerbate the issue.

Fisher has long made it clear that he doesn't like the idea of anything coming around his camp that he could view as a distraction, so it stands to reason that he'll once again hope to avoid Hard Knocks.

The other eight teams eligible to be asked to do the show are the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

The Atlanta Falcons did the show last year, with an announcement made on June 11. It's likely word will come around the same time this year.