Detroit Lions to be showcased on ‘Hard Knocks’

The Detroit Lions will be on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer, the league announced Monday.

The five-episode season debuts on August 9 with additional hour-long episodes debuting subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, culminating in the September 6 season finale. The first sports-based reality series, and one of the fastest-turnaround programs on TV, will debut on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max.

This will mark the 17th edition of the 18-time Sports Emmy®-winning series and the most acclaimed serialized sports series on television.

“We are excited about the opportunity to showcase the City of Detroit and the amazing culture we are building at the Lions,” said Detroit Lions Team President and CEO, Rod Wood. “HBO Sports and NFL Films are the best of the best and we know they will be excellent partners in sharing our story with football fans around the world.”

Camera crews will head to the Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, Michigan in the next few months to begin filming, with the action heating up in August when the cinema verité show focuses on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE DETROIT LIONS will chronicle head coach Dan Campbell entering his second season leading the team and an intriguing mix of young emerging stars, established veterans, free agent additions and highly regarded rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE DETROIT LIONS will be narrated by Liev Schreiber, marking his 16th season with the show.

A 30-person NFL Films crew will be at Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.

Winner of 18 Sports Emmy® Awards to date, HARD KNOCKS launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, and resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, subsequently spotlighting the Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014), Houston Texans (2015) and Los Angeles Rams (2016). The 2017 edition chronicled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and captured the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Serialized Documentary.

The widely acclaimed 2018 series with the Cleveland Browns earned two Sports Emmy® Awards for production excellence. The 2019 series spotlighted the Oakland Raiders as they played their final season in the Bay area before moving the franchise to Las Vegas. In an unprecedented programming move, the 2020 edition of the venerable series spotlighted both Los Angeles NFL teams: The Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams. Last year featured “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys, marking their third appearance on the series.

Giants’ Gettleman, Abrams talk free agency

NFL free agency has evolved into a mix of blind dates and musical chairs. 

 Teams often commit millions of dollars to players without meeting face to face – a practice conducted even before the pandemic – at the risk of being the last one standing. The Giants, however, did it differently this year. Their relatively long courtship of free agents like Kenny Golladay, regarded as the top wide receiver on the market, was well-documented as they wined, dined, and ultimately signed.

“We had them in here and it was an old-school free agency,” general manager Dave Gettleman said Tuesday. “We got to talk, a chance to visit with them, they went out to dinner with various people in the organization, they were here a couple of nights, our doctors were able to put their hands on them. It was an old-fashioned free agency.”

 “It wasn’t just our decision, the players wanted to come in as well,” vice president of football operations and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams said. “Both parties wanted to have the visit.”

The result was a free-agent class that surprised everyone but the people in the building. 

“We got a pretty good understanding of what they’re about and that, to me, was a big advantage,” team president and chief executive officer John Mara said a few weeks ago when the dust settled after the first wave of free agency. “It’s much more difficult to do this when you can’t get the guys in the building and you have to make a commitment to a large amount of money without getting a chance to eye them up and talk to them and get a feel for them. I was happy that we were able to do that this year. It made it easier to give the final okay to say, ‘Yeah, go ahead, get the thing signed.’”

Mara described the approach as “thorough” in the recruiting cycle, stemming from the philosophy that fit supersedes skill when building a team. There was also a tangible reason to bring prospective players in for a visit: medical examination.

In 2020, Golladay missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain.

“Well, you bring him in because you want to get a physical on him,” Gettleman said. “That was the biggest reason, get a physical on him. But it was nice for a change to get to know a guy and have that opportunity to do that. Like I said, it was like the old days. The biggest reason was the physical.”

Meanwhile, a medical check of Kyle Rudolph, who signed with the Giants after a decade in Minnesota, revealed the need for the two-time Pro Bowl tight end to undergo a procedure to repair a foot injury stemming from last season.

Despite the discovery coming after he had agreed to terms, the Giants felt confident to follow through with the signing. “Once he went through all the medical evaluations, we didn’t think that it was necessary [to adjust the contract],” Abrams said.

 “We are the Giants, we’re going to do everything with class,” Gettleman said. “We had an agreement, [head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Barnes] signed off on it, [head team physician] Doc [Scott] Rodeo signed off on it, so we were fine.”

While people like to count the dollars spent, how does the front office quantify how much they improved in free agency?

 “From my opinion, and I think Dave would agree, I think our roster is a lot better now than it was at the end of the season,” Abrams said. “And the offseason is not over yet, so we’ll still have more opportunities to add players. So, I think we feel good with what we’ve done. I think we’re a deeper, more talented team.”

“You know, you can’t quantify it,” Gettleman said. “It’s not going to be quantified until the fall and we start playing in September. But we feel very good about what we’ve done, we feel very good about the direction the team is taking with getting Kenny signed and Kyle Rudolph and Devontae Booker and Adoree’ Jackson and Leo. We feel really great about that and we really feel we’re building a solid football team that the fans can be proud of.”

And they’re not done yet. The Giants hold six picks in next week’s draft, starting with the No. 11 overall selection.

Courtesy: Dan Salomone/Giants

Giants’ Golladay: ‘This team is going to get a competitor’

The New York Giants got their number one receiver on Saturday when the team announced they signed free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a four-year deal worth $72 million deal with a max of $76 million with $40 million guaranteed.

The 27-year-old Golladay spent the first four seasons of his career with the Detroit Lions. In 2020, Golladay missed Week 2-3 games with a hamstring injury and the final nine games with a hip flexor strain, but in 2018 and 2019, Golladay totaled 135 receptions, 2,253 yards – exceeding 1,000 yards in each season – and 16 touchdowns. He led the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions in 2019.

Golladay had 20 receptions for 338 yards and two scores in his injury-shortened 2020 season.

When asked what made the Giants an ideal destination for him, Golladay said the following:

“Just the pieces on offense,” he said. “Those guys actually kind of reached out to me, and I liked the vision that [Head] Coach Joe Judge had and [Offensive Coordinator] Jason Garrett, as far as the offense, and I was all the way in.”

Obviously, when you give a player the type of money New York gave Golladay, you’re going to expect a lot in return, and according to Golladay, the Giants are getting a playmaker.

“I know just as far as me, this team is going to get a competitor, a guy who’s going to come in, work, he’s going to try to push other guys and have fun with it,” he said. “I want to have fun while I’m doing this; that’s what I’m doing it for. Just a playmaker.”

The Giants are trying to give their quarterback Daniel Jones everything he needs to succeed, and adding a big-time wideout like Golladay will help him immensely. Now, let’s see if Jones has what it takes to be the team’s franchise quarterback.

Watch as Golladay meets the media: