They won't, but they should.
The New York Giants won't volunteer to be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks because they have every right not to. But they should, because it would give the franchise a chance to lift the veil in order to honor and thank one of the largest and most committed fanbases in North American professional sports.
They won't participate in the series because Tom Coughlin is an old-school head coach and they're an old-school organization. But they should, because they're clearly attempting, at least in certain ways, to prove that they're evolving as a team.
They won't because they've basically said so. "I don't think it brings anything to the team," co-owner Steve Tisch told TMZ in August. "It's so not about who we are. I don't think it's in the players' best interest." But they should, because the way things have gone four of the last five years, they've got little to lose.
Ultimately, it's even possible they won't have a choice. If nobody volunteers to take part in the popular yet somewhat controversial series this upcoming summer, the NFL—per a new rule—can force teams that meet certain criteria to allow NFL Films/HBO cameras into their locker rooms.
And as Deadspin's Barry Petchesky points out, the Giants qualify as one of eight teams that could be thrown into the lion's den this year.
|Who can be forced to do Hard Knocks, ranked by appeal|
|Team||Why they'd be appealing|
|1. New York Giants||A notoriously private franchise goes public.|
|2. Pittsburgh Steelers||Big personalities and a large fan base.|
|3. Chicago Bears||Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.|
|4. Arizona Cardinals||Strong young team with plenty of rising stars.|
|5. Jacksonville Jaguars||Could help them gain a following.|
|6. Buffalo Bills||Another team nobody really talks about.|
|7. Oakland Raiders||Would have been cooler a decade ago.|
|8. St. Louis Rams||No appeal whatsoever.|
Would Hard Knocks want the Giants anyway? They probably wouldn't be their first choice, but few teams are willing to take part each year, so they can't get too picky. No, the G-Men don't usually bring a lot of controversy to the table, but that changed a bit this past season with some drama surrounding embattled wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Plus, as we learned when NFL Films gained unprecedented access to Bill Belichick for the first-ever edition of A Football Life, dull-yet-mysterious figures can provide quite a lot of fascinating moments. Getting to know Coughlin and Eli Manning, who aren't outgoing dudes, would be something their many hardcore fans—who indirectly pay their salaries—would certainly appreciate.
But alas, they won't—at least not voluntarily—unless Tisch and his partner, John Mara, have really turned corners. In 2010, when the rival Jets were featured on the program, Mara told the New York Daily News' Mike Lupica that the Giants would announce their desire to be on Hard Knocks "when I'm next to my father in Gates of Heaven cemetery."
So, they won't, but they should.
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