With the Rams moving to Los Angeles, it only makes sense that the NFL selected them to be placed under the bright lights of the league's popular reality series. The show debuts at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday on HBO.
What lies ahead for the Rams on HBO's "Hard Knocks" is high expectations and drama, if the first 10 seasons are any indication. The series has featured gut-wrenching injuries, quarterback battles and even brawls in chronicling NFL training camps.
The Rams certainly have intriguing storylines, from being the league's first relocated franchise in more than two decades to an unsettled quarterback situation. Where the bar has been raised is memorable personalities. Cameras caught Tony Siragusa locking Ravens tight ends in their meeting room, followed Chad Ochocinco shopping and immortalized Rex Ryan barking out "Let’s go eat a God damn snack!"
Though many teams might view the show as a distraction, it has often served as a launching point for a successful season. The past six teams featured on "Hard Knocks" have equaled or bettered their record from the previous season, and two of the past three (Bengals and Texans) have reached the playoffs.
Here are the most memorable highlights of "Hard Knocks":
Season 1, 2001: Baltimore Ravens
The defending Super Bowl champions dealt with the season-ending knee injury to star running back Jamal Lewis, and cameras captured the moment when coach Brian Billick received the phone call detailing the severity of the injury. The most memorable moment came during the rookie show, when linebacker Tim Johnson did a spot-on impersonation of tight end Shannon Sharpe. Johnson re-enacted the time Sharpe was locked in the meeting room by Siragusa and wanted his "restitution." The shot of Sharpe and Ray Lewis laughing uncontrollably remains one of the series' most light-hearted moments.
Season result: The Ravens went 10-6 and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, where they lost in Pittsburgh.
Season 2, 2002: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were a team in transition with only Emmitt Smith remaining from the Triplets days. After a 5-11 finish in 2001, the Cowboys believed they were on to better things in Dave Campo’s third year. The Cowboys definitely lived up to the made-for-TV moments: Chad Hutchinson, fighting for the starting quarterback job, spent time playing the guitar with receiver Richmond Flowers, Anthony Lucas' gut-wrenching call on Jerry Jones' phone after he tore up his knee for the second year in a row, and George Foreman speaking to the team. The lasting image from this Hard Knocks’ season was Campo in a wet suit during a break in camp at Sea World in San Antonio playing with the dolphins.
Season result: The Cowboys finished 5-11 for the third straight year and Campo was fired and replaced by Bill Parcells.
-- Todd Archer
Season 3, 2007: Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback Casey Printers was incredulous when told by Ray Farmer, the Chiefs’ personnel director, that he would be released. Printers wasn’t good in training camp or the preseason, but he might have played better than any of the other Chiefs’ quarterbacks. "Hard Knocks" made a cult hero of Bobby Sippio, a journeyman wide receiver who joined the Chiefs in the middle of training camp after injuries struck hard at the position.
Season result: The Chiefs, after winning four of their first seven games, lost their final nine to finish at 4-12.
-- Adam Teicher
Season 4, 2008: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys took to Hollywood this season. After going 13-3 in 2007, they were viewed as Super Bowl contenders with Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, and DeMarcus Ware among 13 Pro-Bowlers from the previous season. The Cowboys added Adam Jones and Tank Johnson, who had run afoul of the league for their actions in Tennessee and Chicago, respectively. The Cowboys had memorable practices against the Denver Broncos that featured a back-and-forth between Adams and Brandon Marshall.
Season result: The Cowboys finished 9-7 and were torn apart from within. It didn’t help that Romo missed three games with a broken pinky. The team closed with two losses, including a 44-6 debacle in the finale to Philadelphia. As he walked off the field Johnson said aloud, "I’m a free agent, baby."
-- Todd Archer
Season 5, 2009: Cincinnati Bengals
HBO’s portrayal of the 2009 Bengals earned the team and the network a pair of Emmys. It was during this installment of "Hard Knocks" when football fans were more broadly introduced to Chad (then-Ochocinco) Johnson’s "child, please" and "kiss the baby" catchphrases. They also met Chris Henry, the embattled but up-and-coming receiver whose quiet personality endeared him to team president Mike Brown. In December of that year, Henry died when he fell off the back of a truck. Brown later said he thought "Hard Knocks'" ability to tell personal stories about his players humanized the team, and helped change people’s view of the Bengals.
Season result: Cincinnati went 10-6 before losing in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Jets.
-- Coley Harvey
Season 6, 2010: New York Jets
It’s still the highest-rated "Hard Knocks" in series history. The colorful Rex Ryan stole the show, entertaining many -- and annoying some -- with his R-rated vocabulary and non-stop sense of humor. The highlight was the "Snack" speech. In a team meeting on the eve of a preseason game, the then-portly Ryan punctuated a tirade by barking at his players, "Let’s go eat a god-damned snack!" The season also featured Darrelle Revis' contentious holdout. In the final scene of the final episode, Revis -- after signing a new contract -- walked out to practice and rejoined his teammates, who greeted him with a "Rudy" clap.
Season result: The Jets went 11-5 and lost in the AFC Championship Game.
-- Rich Cimini
Season 7, 2012: Miami Dolphins
The seventh season of "Hard Knocks" was highlighted by the introduction of then-rookie head coach Joe Philbin and the sudden ending to the career of receiver Chad Johnson. Philbin came off as a stickler for minute details in his first year, including one curious instance where he picked up trash off the practice field. Philbin also had a short leash on Johnson, who got into a domestic incident with his former wife. In a memorable scene, Philbin brought Johnson into his office and cut him from the team. It turned out to be Johnson's final shot in the NFL.
Season result: The Dolphins went 7-9 and were mostly competitive in 2012 with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. However, they failed to post a winning season for the fourth straight year. The streak currently sits at seven.
-- James Walker
Season 8, 2013: Cincinnati Bengals
One of the most-asked questions as it relates to the 2013 Bengals is this: Does Giovani Bernard still drive the minivan? Thanks to "Hard Knocks," viewers learned the rookie running back drove a van belonging to his girlfriend’s mother to training camp in Cincinnati as he started getting his bearings in the new city. He no longer drives it. This season also told the story of defensive tackle Larry Black. After a promising start to the summer, the Cincinnati native and rookie undrafted free agent suffered a season-ending ankle injury in a practice. The injury gave a raw glimpse at how quickly dreams can be delayed in the NFL.
Season result: Cincinnati went 11-5 before losing in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Chargers.
Season 9, 2014: Atlanta Falcons
The most memorable moment from a rather dull season of "Hard Knocks" with the Falcons was the number of fights that arose, some of which appeared to be staged. It started immediately with Kroy Biermann getting into it with rookie Jake Matthews. Then-coach Mike Smith was more vocal and demonstrative than normal, particularly when it came to regulating the fighting. Joe Hawley, Ra'Shede Hageman and Jacques Smith all were involved in the fight as well. Hageman was portrayed as an out-of-control, out-of-shape rookie who kept getting frustrated with himself, an aspect he didn’t appreciate when the episodes aired.
Season result: The Falcons finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Season 10, 2015: Houston Texans
Texans coach Bill O'Brien wasn't delighted to be on the show, but wound up one of its biggest personalities. The show documented a set of brawls during joint practices with Washington, and also the Texans' decision to choose Brian Hoyer as the team's starting quarterback over Ryan Mallett. Cornerback Charles James and receiver EZ Nwachukwu became fan favorites who then got released by the Texans when they cut their roster to 53 players. James eventually returned.
Season result: The quarterback drama continued after the Texans stopped being filmed, and they started the season 2-5. They recovered after that to become a 9-7 playoff team, but lost in the first round.