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Rich Shertenlieb: ‘Aaron Rodgers Has to Be Featured on Hard Knocks’

While Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry stole the show at the American Century Championship thanks to his hole-in-one shot and eventual tournament win, comments made by New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers have snagged the headlines. The NFL veteran expressed how the team’s appearance on the HBO and NFL Films documentary series, Hard Knocks, was effectively forced upon them. The Jets were one of four teams eligible to participate in the docuseries this season after meeting all of the relevant criteria, and many affirmed the franchise had the most interesting storyline. Now, the team will be prominently featured before and during the season – in which “Gang Green” is televised for the maximum six prime-time games – as it tries to snap a 12-year playoff drought.

There has been plenty of commentary from those in the New York metropolitan area about the implications the series could have on the team. A deluge of young players, led by reigning offensive and defensive rookies of the year Garrett Wilson and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, are trying to take the next steps in their careers surrounded by a veteran quarterback and bonafide Hall of Famer. On top of that, head coach Robert Saleh faces pressure to win in his third year in the position while former first-round draft pick Zach Wilson serves as a full-time backup quarterback after struggling as a starter.

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“This is going to be the first time that you’re going to have to watch Hard Knocks,” Rich Shertenlieb said Monday on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “Not just like us, but if you’re an NFL fan, this is the story of the offseason. How often does Hard Knocks have a superstar on it – because it’s usually these lesser teams that don’t have to do it.”

The fact that Rodgers is at the center of the franchise this season following a darkness retreat and comments on psychedelics should augment the entertainment value of the series. In addition, the fact that the Jets organization made public comments against participating on Hard Knocks could change the aurora of the show and add a backdrop of frustration to the proceedings.

“I can’t think of a better scenario to have Hard Knocks,” Shertenlieb said. “I know that there’s been some teams where you’ve seen people ham it up and stuff – there’s going to be none of that this year. It’s just going to be, ‘Get out of my way,’ and anger. I know that they say, ‘Well, the team gets director’s cut,’ but if everything that’s being recorded is, ‘We don’t want to be here,’ you’re going to get some good stuff.”

Both hosts worry about the team having a strategy to provide Hard Knocks with as little content as possible, meaning they will intentionally restrain themselves when the cameras are on. The team’s ownership, coaching staff and public relations department could work against the best interests of the docuseries to prevent the fomentation of narratives; however, it helps the National Football League when it is genuinely candid. Even so, Shertenlieb believes that some of the roster will be enthusiastic and accommodating on the series, potentially breaking away from the franchise’s overarching attitude of displeasure.

“I am saying that you’re going to want to watch it, but I am telling you that it might cause strife because the team might not want them to,” Toucher said. “There are young, excitable players that don’t hold their tongues on this team.”

Because of the lack of notice regarding the selected team, Hard Knocks has a considerably short timeline to create content for the first episode, which is set to air on Aug. 8. Usually, the series follows select players during portions of their offseason, including on vacation or individual training sessions. Out of all the players and personnel associated with the Jets though, Rodgers is going to be the center of attention – whether he likes it or not.

“Aaron Rodgers is going to want to be on it as little as possible, but the HBO people know he has to be on it a lot,” Shertenlieb added. “They’re going to follow him around – they’re going to probably do a whole thing on his psychedelics, which is going to be hysterical.”

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