Buccaneers gearing up for "Hard Knocks" life
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By FRED GOODALL
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Coming off their first winning season in nearly a decade, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" sports reality series during training camp - an opportunity coaches and players are embracing but hardly sought.
The team was selected from among eight clubs meeting NFL criteria for consideration for the popular five-episode series that takes viewers behind the scenes of a club's preparation for the regular season.
Coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht said Wednesday they don't think the constant presence of a 30-person film crew - on or off the field - will become a distraction for one of the youngest teams in the league.
Tampa Bay, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2007, finished 9-7 a year ago in its first season under Koetter.
"I like watching the show. I wish I wasn't on it. But that's me, personally," said Koetter, offensive coordinator in Atlanta when the Falcons appeared on "Hard Knocks" three years ago.
Nevertheless, the coach also said he'll encourage players to be themselves around cameras that'll have unlimited access to practice fields, training rooms, meeting rooms and even the homes of some of them.
"I think the main thing is we're not trying to hide anything. I think there's some great stories to tell. I think the players have some great causes that they're behind outside the building, so I think that's a thing you try not to do," Koetter said.
"I think the thing that's corny is if guys are faking it," the coach added. "We'll probably go with the no faking rule."
Tampa Bay joins the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets as clubs that have participated in the series.
League guidelines exempt teams with first-year coaches, as well as clubs that made the playoffs the previous two seasons or have appeared on the show in the last 10 years.
Tennessee, Cleveland, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Chicago and New Orleans were the other team's eligible for selection this year.
Jameis Winston was asked earlier this week about the prospect of being picked. The third-year quarterback said he'd embrace the selection.
"The whole world gets to see how great of an organization this is and see the great people that we have within the organization," Winston said.
"But our job is to play football. They add the glitz and the glamour and all that comes with it," Winston added. "It's an amazing show, but we've got to play football. We're out there doing it for the fans, we're out there doing it for the city, and `Hard Knocks' - they'll just show the whole world."
And while Koetter would just as soon remain out of the spotlight, he reiterated doesn't have any concerns about the experience having a negative impact.
"It's the NFL. There are bright lights. ... I look at it as just part of the deal," Koetter said. "I think we'll be fine. It's a TV show. The real TV shows are Sunday in the fall. That's the ones I'm worried about."
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Updated April 19, 2017