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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

It’s the Hard Knock Jets, for Us


Coming this summer to a theater near you… – or more accurately, to your living room on HBO – the New York Jets make their second appearance on the popular NFL-based TV show Hard Knocks, their first since 2010. This year’s edition has a different feel to it, as the show will dive into a rejuvenated Jets team that looks to make a legitimate Super Bowl run with their newly acquired, future Hall of Fame Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. 

The long-running television series first aired in 2001, and was introduced as a reality sports documentary that follows NFL teams through preseason and explores their preparation for the upcoming season. It wasn’t until 2021 that the series included an in-season version of their show, making an even more compelling story. The Jets will be taking part in the preseason edition of Hard Knocks this year, one that may increase in viewership as the 4x MVP and 1x Super Bowl Champ, Rodgers, leads the way. 

As exciting as this may seem for the team and its fans, the Jets initially conveyed their distaste for their appearance on the show. Prior to the announcement, Head Coach Robert Saleh made his thoughts clear on the matter: “I know there’s several teams that would love for ‘Hard Knocks’ to be in their building, but we’re just not one of them.” 

Heading into his third season as the Jets Head Coach, Saleh wants to avoid any possible distractions that the documentary may bring. The new signal-caller had a similar reaction when New York was officially chosen. “There’s a lot of eyes on me, a lot of eyes on our team, a lot of expectations for our squad, so they forced it down our throats and we’ve got to deal with it,” Rodgers stated. 

However, some fans seem to disagree with their star quarterback and head coach. 

“I don’t think it’s a distraction,” says Joe Iavaroni, a former Jets season-ticket holder from Commack. “Rex Ryan was the star of the show last time. Saleh and Rodgers are a little more reserved in their approach, so this time will be different. But a guy like Sauce Gardner, who has really embraced social media, will flourish on Hard Knocks.” 

Fans like Iavaroni are thrilled to see their favorite team go to work this summer, as the show will focus on the many exciting players that the Jets have to offer. 

The fact of the matter is, “Gang Green” ultimately has no choice, as they fit the requirements for a team that must be forced into appearing on the show. The “Hard Knocks” formula states that a team can decline the show if the following rules apply to them: The team made the playoffs in the past two seasons, they have a first-year head coach, or they have appeared on the show in the past decade. 

Unfortunately for the Jets, none of these rules apply to them, especially the playoff rule. As most fans know, the Jets have had a 12- year playoff drought, making their last appearance in 2010, coincidentally the same year as their first Hard Knocks appearance. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come as they seemed poised to reach the playoffs and be serious Super Bowl contenders going into the 2023 season. 

Amidst all the controversy, the Jets seem to have finally come to terms with their feature on Hard Knocks; whether or not it was willingly, is up for debate. 

However, it comes with one condition. New York has stated that they won’t let film crews show players being cut, which is normally included in the series. Saleh recently appeared at the first news conference of training camp wearing a “I Love HK” shirt, demonstrating the Jets will work together with the the team at Hard Knocks to produce a quality show while also focusing on their primary task at hand. 

Could they break the “Hard Knocks Curse,” and be the first team to win the Super Bowl after appearing on the show? Only time will tell, but keep an eye on these Jets as they look to bring the Lombardi trophy back home for the first time since 1969.

James Haupt
James Haupt
James Haupt is The Messenger Papers' weekly Sports Reporter and Staff Writer, covering everything from local little leagues to professional sports teams. James is also a full-time college student at Villanova University majoring in Journalism.