HBO and the NFL Films this summer will produce an unprecedented version of their long-running reality television series “Hard Knocks” by featuring both the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
The popular series, entering its 15th edition, will chronicle the preseason preparations of two NFL teams simultaneously for the first time. The Rams and Chargers set to share SoFi Stadium, the $5bn stadium and surrounding entertainment district being completed this summer in Inglewood, California.
The five-episode series, premiering August 11, will in part chronicle the teams’ handling of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, while production crews will also adhere to adjusted health and safety protocols themselves.
“We are following the advice of medical experts at the league and NFL Players Association level,” said Ken Rodgers, “Hard Knocks” senior coordinating producer. “We as a production are following right along with camp, so if any changes happen in any way, ‘Hard Knocks’ will adjust.”
“The protocols, practice schedule, how teams use practice and locker rooms, we’ll have to adjust to that. When you consider some of the player are going to be meeting their coaches for the first time and then going through the protocols, it is going to be an empathetic process for the audience to watch,” Rodgers said.
Rams head coach Sean McVay, however, questioned the wisdom of proceeding with all normal football activities amid the pandemic.
“I mean, is this crazy, Coach Lynn?,” McVay said to Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. “We’re talking about some of this stuff, and we’re playing football? I mean, we’re going to social distance, but we play football? This is really hard for me to understand all this. I don’t want to be – I don’t get it. I really don’t.”
The National Football League is aiming to proceed with its 2020 season as scheduled, but final decisions have not been made about attending fans. In the meantime, teams have been directed to holding training camps at their main practice facilities.
The Rams and Chargers also both enter the 2020 season with new uniforms and brand identities. While the Chargers’ new look was very well received by fans and critics, the Rams received more of mixed reviews, though the Rams uniforms will likely point the way to eventual on-uniform advertising for the NFL.