The NFL didn’t consider the Dolphins worth prime time, scheduling them for one night game this season. HBO, needing a team for Hard Knocks, felt differently.
The Dolphins will be the featured team for the seventh season of HBO’s annual behind-an-NFL-training-camp-scenes show. The first episode will air Aug. 7, and each episode will air for the first time Tuesdays at 10 p.m. and be rerun the next night at 11 p.m. The season finale will be Sept. 4.
Three of South Florida’s teams find themselves operating in extra spotlight. Showtime’s baseball answer to Hard Knocks, The Franchise: A Season With The Miami Marlins, showcases South Florida’s MLB team. Meanwhile, ESPN has assigned several reporters to cover the Heat the past two seasons.
Hard Knocks, which featured the Jets, Cowboys, Ravens, Bengals and Chiefs in previous seasons, reportedly pursued several other teams. Even in March, at the owner’s meetings, first-year Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin dismissed the idea with a laughing, “I’m built for radio, not TV.”
But Tuesday …
“I’m personally very excited about it,” Philbin said. “First and foremost, it’s a football show. It’s a show that’s going to showcase our players, a great group of men that we’ve assembled in Miami as we go through training camp. Second, I think it’s a great opportunity to connect with our fans, for the people who aren’t going to be able to come out here daily in 110-degree heat-index weather and watch our guys participate in training camp.
“The third thing is it’s a chance to show the new direction and identity of this football team, where we’re headed, at the same time, connect with our past, the great tradition, heritage we have here in Miami.”
As if expecting the assumption that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross ordered the change of heart, Philbin insisted the decision to allow the 24-camera crew to follow the Dolphins wasn’t mandated.
“[Ross] really wanted to stay out of it for the most part and make it a football decision,” Philbin said. “He in no way influenced this decision. He was probably more worried: ‘Joe this is your first year as head coach and there’s pressure and this and that.’ Myself, I think it’s a better time to do this as opposed to year two or year three or year four.”
Ross used the word “transparency” earlier this offseason in discussing with fans and media how the team would like to handle things in the future. Hard Knocks is something that clearly wouldn’t have been considered under the watch of secretive former executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells and former head coach Tony Sparano.