The New England Patriots have never appeared on HBO’s training camp reality series Hard Knocks. And the best way for them to maintain that streak is to keep winning.
Growing reticence among teams about doing the show caused the NFL to pass a rule saying they could force any of the teams to do Hard Knocks.
But there are three ways to become exempt from having to do the show:
1. Have a new head coach.
2. Be a team that’s done the show in the preceding 10 years.
3. Qualify for the playoffs in either of the two preceding seasons.
The Patriots, then, are off the hook this year and next. But if they don’t make the playoffs this year or in 2015, HBO and the NFL could come calling in 2016.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about the Hard Knocks resistance in a conference with the Associated Press Sports Editors this week.
“That’s one of the reasons why we passed the policy that we did, is to get every team the opportunity to do this,” said Goodell. “We understand that it’s an additional responsibility, that it’s an additional thing to film out around your [training] camp and some clubs prefer not to have it.”
The last time the Patriots failed to qualify for the playoffs in consecutive seasons? That was 1999 and 2000, back in Pete Carroll's last year and Belichick's first.