‘Hard Knocks: Los Angeles’ – Training camp in extraordinary times
In a normal year, HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation, planning for as many possibilities as one can and then rolling with the blows when the unexpected happens. But as we all know, 2020 is no ordinary year.
No, in the new five-episode round of the documentary series titled “Hard Knocks: Los Angeles,” which premieres Tuesday, Aug. 11, the focus is on two teams, the Rams and the Chargers, as they go through training camp in preparation for the upcoming season and take up residence in their new home, the state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
And then of course, there is the pandemic, which not only changes how the teams go about their business and how games are presented but also how NFL Films, which makes the series, covers the two squads.
“Our show this year is really going to be a real-time documentary about America trying to get back to work in uncertain circumstances,” explains Ken Rodgers, vice president and senior coordinating producer for NFL Films. “And football will always be present but in many ways this will be the ultimate workplace drama for 2020. I think it will serve as a great historical record for the return to normalcy that we’re all hoping for.
“At what stage it ends up being in the grand scheme of history, I don’t know,” he continues. “But I think our challenges are going to be right alongside the teams’ challenges and there’s no doubt those challenges will come. But that’s going to be part of the story because quite frankly that’s the challenge of our entire country right now.”
As usual, there are the on-field stories as well. Head coach Sean McVay and the Rams are a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance and looking to get back there after finishing out of the postseason in 2019 with a disappointing 9-7 record.
The Chargers, meanwhile, are picking themselves up after an injury-plagued 5-11 campaign last year, the final one in blue and gold for their longtime stalwart at quarterback, Philip Rivers. So 2020 stands as a transition year for head coach Anthony Lynn and the Bolts, who hope their top draft pick, Justin Herbert, can develop under center while other players step forward as veteran voices.
It’ll be an interesting year for both teams, not only in how their seasons play out, but also in how the NFL conducts a season with no fans in the stands.