Four Reasons The Rams are Perfect for HBO's Hard Knocks
Fisher's concern over "distractions" halted the Michael Sam documentary series on Oprah's TV network, but "distractions" is usually a word NFL coaches use when they simply don't want to deal with the media. There's little reason to believe that adding an outside camera crew to the mix would hurt the Rams' chances on the field. Over the past eight seasons of Hard Knocks, four of the subject teams made it to the playoffs during the ensuing season.
Indeed, NFL teams are increasingly isolating and managing its players. Press conferences and interviews are stilted, soundbite-filled affairs from athletes who are taught to distrust reporters. In reality, If Fisher wants to whip his men into shape, cameras won't stop him. If a player hates the cameras, like the Bengals' James Harrison did last year, that's great too. It's just another human side of football we'd never get to see outside of Hard Knocks.
Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I'm using every once of this to achieve greatness!! pic.twitter.com/QESdOJVzsw— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) May 10, 2014
4. Michael Sam.
Of course, the "distraction" Fisher is most concerned about is rookie defensive end Michael Sam, whose sexual orientation brought heavy scrutiny, hand-wringing and homophobic tweets to the team's doorstep. That scrutiny doesn't appear to be weakening anytime soon.
Which is why the NFL should let the cameras in. Drafting Sam wasn't a knee-jerk decision from Fisher or Rams owner Stan Kroenke; they picked Sam for his football value. But players such as Sam -- raw but talented, filled with potential -- are exactly the kind of players Hard Knocks excels at profiling. Each of the show's seasons are filled with guys similar to Mizzou's favorite son: Sixth and seventh round picks and undrafted free agents who are simply trying to prove they belong on a team, let alone starting a game.
To be blunt, it's very possible Sam won't make the Rams' active roster, and even if he does he'll likely wind up on special-teams duty or the practice squad. So instead of letting his journey play out behind the overly managed facade of the Rams' media handlers, why not let the public in? Why not let Sam the football player show us what he's got on the field?
Hard Knocks grants the NFL an opportunity to show us a side of football that's above macho aphorisms or fantasy-sports statistics, and we want to see that side of the Rams. As for Sam, the league's first openly gay player doesn't need any more protection or hiding. He's ready.