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Field of Links: Hurting for ‘Hard Knocks’ in the Bay Area

Aug 8, 2013, 9:41 AM PDT

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HBO’s show “Hard Knocks is easily one of the most captivating shows on television. It’s hard to believe they couldn’t produce the documentary series in 2011 when no NFL team wanted anything to do with it.

The series that delivers unprecedented access to one NFL team during training camp per season had it’s premier on Tuesday and it seems to keep getting better. Each episode really has a way of making you laugh, cry, and genuinely care about a franchise in which you’d otherwise have zero interest.

This season, the Cincinnati Bengals are being featured for a second time. That’s interesting because most NFL teams avoid the show like it’s the plague. For all the good some national exposure can bring to an NFL franchise and its players, coaches see the cameras and crew as a distraction and a threat to their team’s secrets.

The access and views provided by the show are entirely too fascinating. You can see a 300-pound defensive tackle’s tears and raw emotion as he sits on the training table after breaking his leg. You can watch the players harass the starting quarterback about his rubber wedding ring. You can experience the sheer terror and intimidation of James Harrison, easily one of the baddest men on the planet.

It makes one wonder why other teams wouldn’t embrace it, or at least imitate it. The 49ers and Raiders, for example, only let cameras shoot the first 15 minutes of practice. After that, all cameras are removed from the sidelines. Cameras aren’t allowed in the locker rooms during training camp. Instead, both teams have their public relations staff bring players outside. Forget about even seeing a player in the trainer’s room, or hearing what the coaches or G.M. are talking about in their offices.

Both teams have done a better job over the years of granting fans access to the team’s practices. Fans can sit on bleachers alongside the 49ers practice fields in Santa Clara, and the same can be said for the Raiders in Napa.  It’s a great fan experience, but it’s just not the same. Each team has their own production company that gets special access, but even they can’t deliver like HBO can.

From a news and information standpoint, no one has the NFL covered like Comcast SportsNet. It’s as close as you are going to get to “Hard Knocks with the Bay Area teams. But until they warm up to the idea of letting cameras shoot more at training camp, you’ll have to settle for access to information rather than images.

Does “Hard Knocks hurt a team?

2001 – Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

2002 – Dallas Cowboys (5-11)

2007 – Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

2008 – Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

2009 – Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

2010 – NY Jets (11-5)

2012 – Miami Dolphins (7-9)

2013 – Cincinnati Bengals (TBD)

Without further ado, it’s time for some hard links.

Field of Links:

Mad Bum is… mad. Says the Giants mentally checked out.

MLB tried to pay All-Star Game employees in free hats and shirts.

— Down goes the ball dude.

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Tummy trouble topples Bartolo.

Everth Cabrera becomes first suspended PED user to handle his punishment with class and respect for his teammates.

Clearly, all of the planets must have aligned for this to happen

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Of all the millions of Skip Schumaker fans out there, somehow this Skip Schumaker fan caught his foul ball.

For some reason we care that B-Weez pitched in a single-A game.

The Kansas City Royals are celebrating relevance like neon disco kings.

OMG. NO ONE IS SAFE ANYMORE!!!111! BEARS. ON. FRIGGIN’. JET SKIS. It’s SharkNado all over again, people.

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Graham Morrison photo / Alaska Dispatch

  — Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro is as tough as a bear on a Sea Doo.

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It’s not safe in the water anymore (and it isn’t because of bears on Sea Doos) Hint: It’s about pee.

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