The New York Jets were the team picked to do HBO’s Hard Knocks series this summer and that will be interesting to watch with Aaron Rodgers now the team’s new quarterback. The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to be on the long-running HBO training camp docuseries and I bet the top of the organization is happy about that. That said, the Steelers could be eligible for Hard Knocks in 2024 if they fail to make the playoffs in 2023.
During his most-recent episode of the ‘Not Just Football’ podcast, Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward had quarterback Kenny Pickett on as a guest and during that interview he asked the second-year signal-caller his thoughts on possibly being on Hard Knocks in the future.
“I wouldn’t love it either because you know how guys are when cameras are around,” Pickett told Heyward. “All of a sudden, everyone’s a much louder human being or they’re doing stuff that they wouldn’t do just because they see cameras. And it’s just kind of human nature, if they see cameras, people do little different things. But I think guys would kind of lose focus a little bit on what we’re actually there to do. But it is what it is.”
I like that honest answer from Pickett and especially the part about some guys possibly losing a little focus if the television cameras were around. Should, however, the Steelers wind up on Hard Knocks, Pickett thinks he knows who would be a fan-favorite of the players currently on the team. The teammate he chose was none other than safety Damontae Kazee.
“The fan favorite for sure would be [Damontae] Kazee, I think,” Pickett said. “Kazee is probably the funniest teammate I’ve ever had. I think he would be a fan favorite for sure.”
Heyward then asked Pickett if he thought younger brother Connor Heyward would be a fan of the Steelers doing Hard Knocks.
“He would hate it,” Pickett said of the younger Heyward. “He would hide. He hates cameras, dude. We were talking about that today. I forgot what we were talking about, but he’s like, ‘Yeah, just kinda like sit in the back.’ He wouldn’t want it.”
The Steelers obviously can avoid all the 2024 Hard Knocks talk by making the playoffs this coming season.
Even if the Steelers fail to make the playoffs in 2023, I’m sure team president Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin would do everything in their power to avoid being on Hard Knocks. Both have indicated in the past that they were not interested in ever being on the reality football show, even though the ratings for it would probably be through the roof. On the other side of the coin, you can bet the NFL higher-ups would love to finally get the Steelers on the HBO series.
Where do I come down on the Steelers being on Hard Knocks? Well, I would watch every episode four times if they were ever picked for it. With that said, I can see Pickett’s viewpoint on it quite clearly in that I wonder how big of a disruption it would be to the team when it comes to prepping for the regular season.
In closing, here’s to the Steelers making the playoffs in 2023 so Hard Knocks won’t even be a discussion come the end of January.
In the meantime, Pickett is working hard to get ready for a Hard Knocks-less training camp this summer.
“You gotta train, man,” Pickett told Heyward. “You gotta get ready to go. Yeah, these past couple weeks I have been training hard and I just want to be in condition. You know, physical conditioning precedes everything else, as you know Coach Tomlin’s saying. So, I’ll be ready to go when July 26th comes around.”