Drama, controversy and possibility. Three ingredients for television success and three ingredients the Cincinnati Bengals are all too familiar with. So when HBO’s Hard Knocks, a television series that follows NFL teams through their preseason regiments, had to select a team to feature for the upcoming season, it would have been hard-pressed to find a team more fitting than the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the choice may have been an obvious one for NFL Films and HBO, the Cincinnati Bengals’ decision to participate was more of a gamble. The last few seasons have been turbulent to say the least, as a team riddled with arrests, trades and injuries had fought to salvage any scrap of positive image it may have had left. But the franchise believes its offseason moves may have the team in a position in which it can finally begin its swing back towards success, both on and off the field. Letting NFL Films be a fly on the wall in the locker room will certainly be the ultimate test.
While Bengals fans are well aware of the risks that come along with being a part of such a project, the past couple of months have been promising for the organization and it would be beneficial for the positives to shine through in the series. Chad Ochocinco has somehow harnessed an ultra-positive attitude about both himself and the team’s potential this season. He has even gone as far as show up for voluntary work outs — an act that has been a rarity in past seasons. Not only has he been positive, but he has been back to his playful antics, most recently stirring the pot by promising to tweet during games, threatening to fight ESPN NFL analyst Mike Golic and, my personal favorite, tweeting that he would be running to McDonald’s and asking a fan to pick him up. Ochocinco allegedly rewarded the fan who gave him a ride home with a pair of season tickets.
Along with Ochocinco’s antics, it will be interesting to see how the new players such as Laveranues Coles, Andre Smith and Rey Maualuga learn the system and how they develop over time.
What Bengals fans should be most excited about, however, is that Hard Knocks will hold Mike Brown accountable for his actions. Fans will be given the opportunity to see whether or not he is earning his general manager’s bonus. Brown will no longer be in a position to play puppet master, as NFL Film’s Steve Sabol has final cut on the series. If Mike Brown missteps, we can all watch it happen on HBO in mid-August.
Drama, controversy and possibility. The question now becomes, can the Bengals shake the drama and the controversy and embrace possibility?
Image: If you're not following Ochocinco on Twitter, you're missing out. You can watch him tweet on TV when HBO comes to town, though, if you're into that sort of thing.