The Browns vs. the Hard Knocks curse this summer

Cleveland Browns, NFL News, NFL Offseason

The Cleveland Browns are set as the featured team on this summer’s season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Why the ‘Hard Knocks Curse’ shouldn’t scare Browns fans and the rest of the NFL can be excited about this season too.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, HBO’s upcoming season of Hard Knocks is set to feature the Cleveland Browns. The official announcement can be expected later today.

Over 12 seasons, the NFL Films and HBO collaboration has become one of the most successful reality/sports documentary productions ever. Along with ratings, it’s been racking up nominations and awards for its in-depth access and top-notch production quality. Over that time, NFL fans have grown to love the show itself as well as what it signals. Hard Knocks is essentially the light house or seagull, the first sign of football on the horizon after a long and difficult offseasons.

In spite of the show’s success with critics and fans, it hasn’t spelled success for the teams its featured in their seasons that follow. In fact, the opposite. Jeff Fisher adamantly declared that he “wasn’t going 7-9, or 9-7, or 10-6 for that matter” in 2016 as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He was right, since the team went 4-12, and that quote has been a pretty accurate encapsulation of how the 12 seasons have gone for teams after appearances of Hard Knocks. The combined records of the teams featured so far has been 91-101.

The Hard Knocks Curse isn’t quite the Madden Curse, but it hasn’t spelled success at any point over 12 years and only once seen a team improve from the season before (the 2010 Jets won more regular-season games after appearing but still advanced no further in the playoffs).

In spite of the history, fans of the Browns have every reason to be excited about the show’s upcoming 13th season. They’ve won only one game the past two seasons and coming off of an 0-16 year, there’s no way to regress or disappoint in 2018. If anything, maybe Hard Knocks‘ history of teams producing the opposite of expectations is a good sign for the Browns.

There is also no chance of the “how the sausage is made” concept backfiring either. Some people may think twice about eating their favorite food after watching a documentary on factory farming or seeing the inside of the factory that makes ingredients. But if a decade of food poisoning hasn’t impacted Browns fans, a behind the scenes look at the team sure won’t curb any appetites. Maybe it will even bring in some new fans.

For those outside Cleveland, this season of Hard Knocks has as many elements of intrigue and compelling story lines as any to date. First-overall pick Baker Mayfield, last year’s top pick, Myles Garrett, how coach Hue Jackson and owner Jimmy Haslam have won only one game in two seasons, the return of veteran wide receiver Josh Gordon after battling substance abuse, and new players like Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry — all make for a very interesting season.

As a “reality/documentary” series, there are two directions this season can go. It could be an eye-opening look at the questionable practices and dark underbelly of an organization like Blackfish/Sea World in 2013. Or it could show the kind of dysfunctional insanity that endears viewers to the cast like the Jersey Shore has since 2009.

Either way, I can’t wait.

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