The NFL and the Arizona Cardinals are leaning into the drama in the desert.
Amid multiple turbulent offseason storylines in Arizona, the NFL announced on Monday that the Cardinals will be featured during the in-season edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in 2022. The Detroit Lions have the honors for the traditional “Hard Knocks” slot that allows NFL Films cameras an inside look at one team’s preseason.
The selection of the Cardinals is an intriguing one after mixed results in recent “Hard Knocks” seasons that failed to capture the storytelling drama of the series at its best. Arizona is facing tumult on multiple fronts, including with its best player, quarterback and head coach.
Quarterback Kyler Murray was among multiple Cardinals veterans who didn’t show up on Monday for the first the first day of OTAs. This on its own isn’t that remarkable as veterans across the league are passing on the offseason workouts officially designated as voluntary. But Murray, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, is entering his fourth NFL season without an extension on his rookie contract.
The 2019 Rookie of the Year and two-time Pro Bowler has made clear via social media pettiness and messaging from his agent that this displeases him. Now Murray’s a no-show at OTAs.
Meanwhile, five-time All-Pro wide receiver Deandre Hopkins will start the season on a six-game suspension thanks to testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance. The news arrived as a shock in May and promises to deliver reverberating consequences on and off the field in Arizona this season.
Before any of the player drama surfaced, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was already under the microscope following three seasons of mixed results and a listless playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams in January. He and Murray will be under pressure to deliver results in 2022.
Some of these issues will be resolved by the time “Hard Knocks” cameras role — to a point, at least. We’ll know by then whether or not Murray got his contract extension. But the storylines should be ample. And the NFL is just fine with that.
Airing dirty laundry can be good for business. Just ask F1, which has seen its popularity explode in the United States thanks largely to Netflix series “Drive to Survive,” which allows cameras and interviewers inside access to drivers, owners and management, warts and all. It makes for compelling drama that leads to increased interest in what’s going on on the track. The sometimes unwelcome exposure is a small price to pay.
“Hard Knocks” operates on a similar blueprint alongside the caveat that NFL Films is in charge of the production. Don’t expect to see anything the league doesn’t want you to. But the Cardinals provide the opportunity for plenty of fodder this year and the chance to breath new life into the franchise.