Coach Mike Pettine said at the team's minicamp Tuesday that he just didn't want the distractions that the show brings.
"It was something that I felt in my gut that I didn't want to be part of the first year," Pettine said. "I saw the positives of it, but I think there's some negatives of it as well. Just not having a good feel for the roster, the chemistry, the personalities, that's kind of agreeing to go into some uncharted territory right out of the gate."
Teams with first-year coaches have the right to refuse to appear on the show. In 2010, Pettine was defensive coordinator with the Jets when New York was featured on "Hard Knocks," which brings cameras behind the scenes with one team during training camp. He said he gets that there can be positives but added there also can be distractions.
"I just always felt that if there's anything that causes us to think for one second about something other than preparing our football team for the opener, then that's probably not a good thing," Pettine said.
Receiver Andrew Hawkins was a part of last year's "Hard Knocks" broadcast with the Bengals.
"It does get a little distracting," Hawkins said. "There's just so much other stuff going on. Guys are in there worrying about football and learning plays. Guys are trying to make the team. What I noticed in Cincinnati was guys kind of playing to the cameras. They're setting up stories. They're too naive to even see that it's kind of taking away focus for them.
"I think it was a great decision for Coach to turn that down."
Pettine said he did not know if HBO circled back to the Browns to gauge their interest after the draft.
"It wouldn't shock me if we were asked about it again," he said. "We weren't going to stray from our initial answer."
Pettine had earlier told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the show was something the team may do in the future.
"It's not something I would say we'd never do, partly because the league can make us do it," he told the newspaper.