George McCaskey

Bears talk “Hard Knocks” eligibility at NFL owners meetings

The Bears are one of three teams who meet the criteria to be chosen for the HBO show if no team volunteers

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears remain uninterested in hosting “Hard Knocks.” Team chairman George McCaskey met with the media at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Tuesday and made it clear the Bears still want no part of the HBO production.

“We’re told there is some interest in other teams being on the program and we welcome that interest,” McCaskey said.

“Hard Knocks” follows an NFL team through training camp each year, highlighting star players and guys fighting for roster spots alike. The Bears have said many times throughout the years that they want no part of it. If push comes to shove, however, they could be forced into participating.

If no teams volunteer to have HBO’s cameras follow them around for the summer, the league can pick a team as long as they meet these criteria:

1) they do not have a new head coach

2) they have not made the playoffs in the previous two seasons

3) they haven’t been on “Hard Knocks” in the past 10 years

The Bears, Broncos and Saints are the only three teams to fit the bill. Among the three it’s easy to make an argument that they’ll have the most compelling preseason storyline to follow. Keenan Allen, D’Andre Swift and Gerald Everett are all newcomers tasked with jumpstarting the offense. Jaylon Johnson is coming off the contract extension he’s wanted since last spring. Oh, and presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams is all but assured to be taking over for Justin Fields.

But if a team raises its hand and says it’s ok starring in “Hard Knocks” this summer as McCaskey indicated the Bears could be off the hook.

In addition to the preseason edition of “Hard Knocks” there is an in-season edition of the show. It used to follow just one team, but multiple reports say the league will switch to a new format that will follow all four teams in a single division for this year’s in-season show. It’s unclear what the criteria will be to select an in-season division to follow– if there’s criteria at all.

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