Skipping 'Hard Knocks' best move for Rams

May, 20, 2014
May 20
11:30
AM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- It's not exactly breaking news that St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher would prefer his team isn't the NFL's choice to star on the HBO series "Hard Knocks" this season.

Fisher long has made it clear that he'd prefer to keep a sense of normalcy around his team during training camp and the season and "Hard Knocks" easily could be viewed as a distraction the team doesn't need.

That's probably true, this year more than ever.

Fisher reiterated his stance to the Associated Press on Monday, saying it's "probably unlikely" the NFL will choose his team to appear on the show, though that decision still rests in the hands of the league.

After the Rams made it clear that the potential Michael Sam docuseries on OWN was not something they wanted going on during camp, it only stands to reason that they wouldn't want "Hard Knocks," either.

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

While the Rams don't really have a choice in the matter, it's also logical the league would consider choosing the Rams for its own docuseries. The league could force the Rams to participate and be the ones who garner the ratings and revenue that go with documenting Sam's pursuit of a roster spot (and any other Rams storylines they'd choose to create).

Of course, choosing the Rams would also come off as a bit hypocritical by the NFL. Late last week, the league denied any previous knowledge of the plans for the Sam documentary and made it known it wasn't on board with that series.

Beyond that, the Rams drafting Sam had to be looked at as a positive for the league as a whole. Going against the wishes of the team to film a TV series wouldn't exactly be rewarding the Rams for making that historic choice.

Taking it further, Fisher long has been loyal to the league, serving on the competition committee for many years. With other options available, that certainly wouldn't hurt the Rams' chances of getting what they want in this situation though some in the organization wouldn't have minded the additional exposure the show would provide.

Ultimately, the Rams' efforts to avoid "Hard Knocks" are probably best for a franchise that needs to take the same approach as Sam and make it all about football. This is an important season for Fisher and the team as they enter their third season together. Although the first two years of the Fisher regime have resulted in improvement in the form of a pair of seven-win seasons, the team has targeted 2014 as a breakout season.

That's not going to be easy in the difficult NFC West division, which makes any possible distraction something this year's Rams clearly don't need.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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