The Los Angeles Rams announced on Wednesday that they will be featured on the NFL's documentary program Hard Knocks. The five-episode season will premiere Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.
Teams who have appeared in the postseason in the past two years, teams with a new head coach and teams who have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years are exempt and cannot be compelled to appear on the series. This year, the Rams were one of seven eligible teams, including Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints were also eligible. The Rams volunteered to be the subject of this year's NFL-based reality series, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
"This is an exciting time for our franchise," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. "Hard Knocks will be an outstanding way to bring our fans into our training camp and preseason, and give a glimpse of the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches and staff as we prepare for the 2016 season."
The Rams relocated to Los Angeles following the 2015 season after 20 years in St. Louis, and the move adds another element of interest for Hard Knocks viewers. The program will follow the team through training camp and highlight what the experience is like for coaches and players.
Aside from the relocation, the Rams carry a lot of appeal for viewers. Defensive end William Hayes should be fun to watch: Hayes believes mermaids are real, but protests the idea that dinosaurs existed.
Punter Johnny Hekker is no stranger to the world of being a star. Hekker used to host his own radio show, What the Hekk, with Rams reporter Dani Klupenger. Hekker also interacts with fans by encouraging them to ask him anything on Reddit, and he's been known to take fan requests for drawings via Twitter, and the results are delightful.
Jeff Fisher has been known to get a little cranky with the media, and he may provide some interesting moments for viewers on Hard Knocks. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is also a colorful character with a big personality.
The stars of Hard Knocks, however, are almost always the lesser-known players. Texans cornerback Charles James became a fan favorite last season, becoming well known for his flamboyant socks and his Madden battles against New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. James was one of the last players cut by the Texans during the series and signed by the Baltimore Ravens, but ended up back in Houston on the active roster, eventually becoming a starter.
Hard Knocks is produced by NFL Films, and the series has won 12 Sports Emmy Awards since it debuted in 2001 featuring the Baltimore Ravens. The process involves a 30-person crew and over 1,500 hours of footage to sort through with a very quick turnaround. The crew is permitted unfettered access to the team and coaching staff on the practice field, in meeting rooms and in living quarters.
The series is immensely popular with fans of the featured team and fans of football in general. Last year's run, featuring the Houston Texans, boasted 4.4 million viewers per episode.