Tim Benz: Will Raiders on ‘Hard Knocks’ live up to the hype? | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz: Will Raiders on ‘Hard Knocks’ live up to the hype?

Tim Benz
Ben Margot
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, center, holds his jersey beside coach Jon Gruden, left, and general manager Mike Mayock during an NFL football news conference Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Most football fans have been rooting for it.

I’ve made it a mission to advance the cause.

And now it’s official.

HBO’s all-access training camp show, “Hard Knocks,” will be covering the Oakland Raiders.

This isn’t just the “Hard Knocks” season we wanted. This is the “Hard Knocks” season we deserve.

As the Raiders’ own website described last week, “A 30-person NFL Films crew will be in Raiders’ training camp in Napa Valley, shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.”

Only 30 people? That’s it? Is that gonna be enough for this motley crew in Silver and Black?

Heck, Antonio Brown is going to demand the attention of 29 crew members on his own. And if he doesn’t get it, he’s going to get ticked.

Beyond the volatile former Steelers wide receiver, the Raiders boast a cast featuring suspension-prone linebacker Vontaze Burfict, erratic offensive lineman Richie Incognito, super-sensitive quarterback Derek Carr and peacocking head coach Jon Gruden.

In a post-“Game of Thrones” world, “Chernobyl” can only carry HBO on its own so long. The network needs characters like this for the show. The Raiders were an obvious choice.

Brown seemed to embrace the news on social media.

Why wouldn’t Mr. Big Chest bask in this kind of exposure? More cameras on him more often? That sounds like his idea of heaven.

For as much positive buzz as last year’s Cleveland edition of “Hard Knocks” got, this sequel has the potential to be even better.

Like, “The Godfather: Part II” kind of sequel potential.

The only difference is, going into last year’s Browns’ show, we didn’t know what we were getting. We knew the Browns were dysfunctional. But we didn’t know it was that bad.

We couldn’t quite grasp how clueless Hue Jackson was until we saw behind the curtain with our own eyes. We didn’t know how destabilizing Todd Haley and Gregg Williams were going to be.

And we had no idea that jabbering receiver Jarvis Landry, defensive end-turned-economic advisor Carl Nassib, hippie tight end Devin Cajuste and “Hut Gut” offensive line coach Bob Wylie would become sleeper superstars.

This year, with the assembled clown car in Napa Valley, we have expectations. And they are massive.

In a way, that worries me as a fan of the program. And, maybe, that should worry the Raiders.

For as much of a carnival as this show could turn out to be for the Raiders, will the likes of Brown, Gruden, Incognito and Burfict really be themselves as we expect?

Or are we just going to see a bunch of bad actors preening for the lens?

I want to see “Chucky” scrunching up his face, A.B. showing up Carr and Incognito and Burfict trying to kill each other every practice.

But I worry that — with so much hype leading up to this event — we will see these guys trying too hard to be on their best behavior. As a result, we could get a watered-down product.

From an organization point of view, training camp was supposed to be a chance for Gruden and his staff to get a feel for how this combustible group of players was going to act behind closed doors.

Now, none of the doors are ever going to be closed. So they might have to learn on the run during the regular season.

Frankly, that may be the biggest practical issue in the midst all of this hype from a franchise perspective.

However, I’m not going to rain on my own parade. I’m following Brown’s advice. And the popcorn is ready to be popped.

Don’t worry, HBO. As a certain wide receiver may say, I expect your business to be boomin’.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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