The NFL is set to insure that HBO's hit docudrama Hard Knocks will always have a team to film. The league is going to force teams into participating in the show, granted there are any number of exemptions. The show is a hit, and fans love to watch it but should the league itself force franchises into participating in it? If the answer to that question is yes why not have each team do it n a rotating basis. Since an AFC north team did it for 2013 maybe in 2014 force one of teh NFC north teams to participate, and so on and so on.
Instead the NFL came up with a lost of exceptions that will only guarantee the team that have already done it (in the last 10 years), and the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals have already done it twice, as well as teams that made the playoffs (in the last two years). That makes little sense as half the teams in the league make the playoffs and Roger Goodell would like to expand that. This means that any likely future team will be team in the middle of rebuilding. That might not matter to Hard Knocks viewers but how interesting would it have been this year if it featured the Jacksonville Jaguars for example.
The one exemption that makes good football sense is teams who have hired new head coach. New head coaches are trying to change cultures and turn around programs and do not need the distraction of cameras in their locker room and training facility.
With 32 franchises is seems that one owner will want to see his team on this show each year. However, in 2011 given the unstable labor situations no team was willing to step up and the show was not filmed. However many NFL owners are not as keen to the new media environment their teams play in and it is hard to see a guy William Clay Ford Sr., owner of the Detroit Lions since 1964, ever agreeing to his team being a participant in this show.
The show is valuable to the NFL, and it could help any team build a national audience or brand. While the NFL owners have been more forward thinking that their baseball counterparts, there are still some old school members who have barely figured out things like these new fangled interwebs.