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The Cleveland Browns had appeared to be the primary target for the next series of HBO's "Hard Knocks," but according to sources, the Browns balked at the idea, in part due to quarterback Johnny Manziel's rehab treatment.

With Cleveland out of the running, four teams -- the Bills, Texans, Giants and Redskins -- are the rumored favorites to be featured on the hit show.

With all of them boasting the requisite star power and affable personalities to captivate audiences -- unlike last season's Falcons -- we assess the entertainment value of each rumored "Hard Knocks" finalist:

Houston Texans

• Pretty much everything J.J. Watt does ends up on a highlight reel, or trending somewhere, such as his faux breaking news, attending the NCAA basketball tournament with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, and especially when his thigh injury resembles the meat Rocky sparred with. If the NFL All-Pro and all-around showman is involved, trust us, people will tune in.
• The Texans don't have a sexy quarterback camp battle, but it remains sports' most glamorous position, and the competition between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett should be a fierce one.
• Texas is BBQ country, so here's hoping jovial big man Vince Wilfork cranks up the old grill for more of this:

A video posted by Bianca Wilfork (@mrs75) on

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Buffalo Bills

"Let's go get a god damn snack!" is an iconic Rex Ryan quote that resides near the top of the pantheon of "Hard Knocks" quotables. With the bombastic coach now calling Buffalo home, fans would certainly welcome some fresh Rexims.
• Chip Kelly canceled the LeSean McCoy show in Philly, but the running back's silky smooth game and penchant for expressing whatever's on his mind makes his Buffalo reboot must-see TV.
• A cameo from Buffalo legend Jim Kelly will display the human element of football, as his battle to overcome cancer was truly inspiring to the team and fans across the world.

Note: A Bills source told's Mike Rodak that the team is not interested in the show, but we can still dream, can't we?

Rex RyanAP Photo/Bill Wippert

New York Giants

• Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. just exudes swagger and is in the midst of an NFL takeover that has seen him reel in the catch of the year and land the "Madden 16" cover. Next, America gets an inside look at his meteoric ascent and all the insane grabs previously not privy to cameras.
• How red can Tom Coughlin's face get? We're sure to find out as rookies bungle drills and draw the ire of the fiery coach.
• Manning face! Manning face! And more Manning face!
Odell Beckham Jr.Jordan Strauss/Invision for NFL/AP Images

Washington Redskins

• Think Shady had some heat for his former coach? Wait until DeSean Jackson, who was released by Kelly, gets miked up.
• Jon Gruden has a knack for saying something that will leave you scratching your head. Here's hoping his brother Jay shares that enigmatic factor and continues the NFL's version of the "Odd Couple" with his co-star and starting QB -- for now.
• This may be Robert Griffin III's final shot at re-capturing the hearts of fans in the nation's capital? We're not sure how he'll look in camp, but an appearance by his adorable new baby girl, Reese Ann, will surely help his cause:

Note: A high-ranking Redskins official told's John Keim that the team is not a possibility to appear on the show, but again, we can dream, right?

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Darrelle Revis AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

Darrelle Revis might have won a Super Bowl ring with New England Patriots, but that doesn't mean he's displaying undying devotion to his now-former team (he's back with the their archrivals, the New York Jets, after a two-season hiatus, one spent with the Patriots).

Specifically, he has no sympathy for Tom Brady. Revis spoke to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, suggesting the franchise's history of rule-breaking likely played a part in Brady's punishment:

"Everybody's blowing it [Deflategate] up because it is Tom Brady. I understand that. But if [the NFL] feels he did the crime or he did something and they want to penalize them, then that's that. [The Patriots] have a history of doing stuff. You can't hide that. ... Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past. ... Stuff repeatedly happened through the years. You got Spygate, you got this and that and everything else."

Spoken like a true Jet (or at least someone who has wiped his hands of his former team). Revis certainly has no responsibility to defend the Patriots, but it does make us anticipate the two matchups between the storied foes this coming season even more than usual.

(H/T New York Daily News)

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The punishment is here. For the Deflategate scandal, the NFL is suspending Tom Brady four games, while fining the New England Patriots $1 million and docking them two draft picks (a first-rounder in 2016, a fourth-rounder in 2017).

Naturally, NFL players current and former had some thoughts.

His teammates were not happy:

Patrick Chung@PatrickChung23/Twitter

Others reacted with a mixture of surprise and outrage:

While some felt it was the right call, or at least the cost of doing business:

Our own Damien Woody? Fresh off a debate on our airwaves with former teammate and ESPN colleague Tedy Bruschi, the ex-Patriot simply posted this:

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Philadelphia is notorious for its pretzels; the city also is notorious for its avid sports fandom.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week -- no, let's take that back, even people under rocks have heard the news -- you know that in another one of Chip Kelly's interesting offseason moves, Tim Tebow has been signed to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tebow joins the Eagles contingent of misfit quarterbacks assembled by Kelly (including Tebow's former Jets teammate, Mark Sanchez). Needless to say, the people of Philadelphia took action to properly acknowledge his arrival:

Yes, thanks to the good folks over at the Philly Pretzel Factory, you can now enjoy chomping down on a "Tebowing" Tim Tebow treat whenever you please, for only $1 (as advertised on Twitter).

Naturally, this token of Tebow affection couldn't go unanswered by the haters. Those in Philadelphia who are A.T. (anti-Tebow) acted quickly to counter the sweet gesture by the pretzel factory. This is where the "No Tebow" pretzel comes into play. We wonder what it would be like to have a pretzel invented with the sole purpose of trolling you. Is that when you know you've made it?

Simply because the Internet is a cruel place, someone was inspired by all the Tebow pretzels, and thus decided to introduce the "Sam Bradford" pretzel, in reference to the Eagles' other new QB. We're just going to leave this here. ...

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The Eagles made the signing of Tim Tebow official Monday.

Rival Washington? It -- or at least its social media department -- wasn't about to stay quiet:


Or was it? If you're well-versed in Twitter memes, you'll know that Kermit sipping tea is the traditional background photo for the "none of my business" trend, the Internet equivalent to "I'm just sayin'." This typically includes a damning statement on top or in the Twitter text (e.g. "Tim Tebow has a total QBR of 33.4 since 2010"), then the boilerplate fake-shrug at the bottom ("but that's none of my business").

But this picture has none of that!

Now, one might argue that everyone on Twitter knows the Kermit thing by now, and everyone on Twitter at the moment knew the Tebow signing had just become official. Also, not adding any text gives the team plausible deniability: "Tebow who? We just thought it was a funny photo!"

But lack of wording could leave some people confused. Also, trolling a team with a much better recent history -- and with no indication as to what was none of its business -- left Washington open to counter-trolling.

Like so:


Still, we don't want to hit Washington too hard for this. Good-natured, sports-related trolling is almost as fun as the games. (Plus it would be way too easy for someone to fire back with, say, "the writer of this post has less than 700 followers ... but that's none of my business.")

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