The season premiere of Hard Knocks HBOs critically acclaimed reality TV show that explores the exhausting, intense world of NFL training camps is Tuesday night, and Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is a bit nervous.
But not for the reasons you would expect.
Philbin isnt particularly concerned that the show, with its focus this year on Miamis pro football team, will expose some great secret or flaw that will give his opponents a leg up. Instead, he is worried about grossing out the programs millions of viewers.
Over the summer, Philbin sat down for a one-on-one shortly after treatment for skin cancer (non-life-threatening, to be clear) that left his face red and swollen.
Am I scared? Yeah, Im scared of me on TV, Philbin said with a chuckle last week. Im not scared about the information leakage. Im not even worried about that one bit.
Like it or not, HBO and NFL Films, which produces the five-episode documentary is about to make Philbin a star.
For the first time in the series seven seasons, Hard Knocks features a team with a first-time head coach. Philbins journey from a largely anonymous coordinator in Green Bay to the face of one of the NFLs legacy franchises is a natural major story line, said Rob Gehring, the shows director.
Its certainly been illuminating to see what he goes through, said Gehring, whose show will air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. He now has to worry about things like fencing and signage, as opposed to just coaching.
Theres a lot more demands on his time, which he is getting used to. Its neat for me to see.
Same goes for Dolphins fans and reporters who still are just getting to know Philbin, the eighth coach in team history. The show, which condenses some 300 hours of footage each week into a glossy, 52-minute product, will give them that chance.
Philbin is more professorial than fire-breathing and certainly is a change of pace from the last coach featured on Hard Knocks. That was the Jets colorful general, Rex Ryan, whose signature moment in the 2010 season was berating his team with a string of naughty words during a meeting, then signing off by screaming, Lets go get a [expletive] snack!
Meanwhile, Gehring, whose crew is allowed unprecedented access, hasnt heard Philbin utter a single curse word yet, although he has raised his voice when warranted. Philbin will come across as stern but trusting of his lieutenants to do their jobs without micromanagement, Gehring added.
Thats not to say the show will lack for characters.
Any team with Chad Johnson, Miamis say-anything wide receiver who last week joked with reporters about his illicit partying with Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, will be entertaining.
Gehring acknowledged what many assumed that Johnson will be a central player in the series. Hard Knocks will also focus on the teams three-way quarterback battle, which Gehring said is as close behind closed doors as the team represents publicly.
Ive personally never viewed this as a reality show, Gehring said. Its a documentary series. Were trying to document what were seeing here. They understand youre not trying to be salacious or gratuitous.