There was an interesting bit of news in my feed this morning to accompany the expected slew of "Patriots offensive woes" articles; it would appear that the NFL Owners have all gotten together and approved a rule that will allow the popular HBO show "Hard Knocks" to air even if there isn't a team interested in being filmed.
Under this new rule, the NFL will first ask for volunteers. If no team steps forward, then one will be appointed by the league. If ever there was an indicator that the NFL is a business first and a sports league second, this new rule is it. "Hard Knocks" is arguably the greatest sports program of all time, and its impact and reach on the sport of professional football is hard to ignore. In this case, privacy and the desire to avoid a camera in the team locker room during the incredibly crucial months of training camp and preseason takes a backseat to promoting the NFL brand and giving the fans more round-the-clock coverage of America's real national pastime.
So what does this mean for the NFL's most secretive franchise? How will this new rule affect the Patriots?
Anybody who thinks that New England will be the absolute first team appointed to do "Hard Knocks" if there aren't any volunteers hasn't seen the show and doesn't know the history. "Hard Knocks" has been chasing the Pats for years, but eventually gave up after a steady string of unrelenting hell noes; there was just no way that Belichick would lower the drawbridge, open the ironclad doors, and un-boobify the booby traps for the cameramen for a reality show. But that doesn't mean that EVERYONE doesn't want to know what goes on in the inner workings of Castle Belichick, and so the Pats on "Hard Knocks" seems like an absolute no-brainer. And while I'm sure it would turn out to be the single most boring season of television ever produced - Belichick would make sure of that - that doesn't mean it wouldn't be the potential distraction and unnecessary annoyance that The Hooded One is so incredibly good at avoiding. A Pats to HBO pairing seems as inevitable as a Peyton Manning playoff loss.
However, there's a caviat to the rule that could keep the Patriots out of harm's way - at least for the near future. According to the rule, HBO cannot target any team with a first year head coach or a team that has made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. So as long as New England keeps making the postseason, they will be immune to TV exposure.
Would I love to see the Patriots on "Hard Knocks?" I want to say no, but of course I would. Do I want them to be on TV all preseason? Absolutely not. If the tradeoff for winning most of the time is that you don't know a damn thing about your organization, I'll take that action every single time. I see this as just another motivator for Bill Belichick to keep his team winning.
The funniest thing is, if you were to ask Belichick if he wants to make the postseason in order to compete for a Lombardi Trophy or to avoid being on television, he'd definitely opt for the former - but I bet he'd have to think about it.