Four years after the Cincinnati Bengals were featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” show, coach Marvin Lewis still hears about his profane tirade to his team after a poor preseason game.
The Bengals are ready to get the NFL talking about them again.
NFL Films crews started shooting video on Thursday for the first episode of the show, which follows a team through training camp. The Bengals are the second team to be featured twice during the show’s eight seasons — the Dallas Cowboys also made a second appearance.
Cincinnati had quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Chad Johnson — then going by the last name of Ochocinco — when it was on the 2009 show. “Hard Knocks” won two Emmy Awards that year for editing and production.
Ross Ketover, an executive producer for the show, presented Lewis with one of the show’s Emmys on Thursday.
“It’s not really the trophy that we’re actually striving for,” Lewis said, laughing, “but we’ve got some accomplishments to do along the way. But that’s awesome.”
Many teams refuse to do “Hard Knocks” because it shows interactions between players, coaches and front-office managers in otherwise private moments. The Bengals had a few such moments during the 2009 show.
One of the lasting lines was delivered by Lewis in the locker room after a preseason loss. Unhappy with a ragged performance, Lewis berated his team as the cameras rolled and screamed at the players to “reach down inside and be a (profanity) pro.”
Lewis regretted that the moment was shown on television. He said on Thursday that he still gets comments about it.
“I got one yesterday,” he said. “If you took the time to think about it, it’s probably something you would have done in the confines of your own group, but that’s something that just happens in the moment.”
Numerous teams shy away from the show for that reason. The Bengals think another appearance will be popular with their fans. Lewis said he was fine with whatever owner Mike Brown decided.
“People have asked ‘why?’ and it’s a couple of things,” Lewis said. “No. 1, from the standpoint of our fans, the comments people have made to me talking about what a great opportunity it was for them to get to know the Cincinnati Bengals players when we did it a few years ago in 2009.
“And from the standpoint of me as the coach: We have to go win football games, regardless of who is watching.”
The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, a streak of futility that ties for seventh-longest in league history. The Bengals are 0-4 in the playoffs under Lewis, losing in the opening round at Houston each of the last two seasons.
They’re trying to reach the playoffs for a third straight season, which would be a first for the franchise.
It’s a much different team from 2009. The flashy Johnson got a lot of the attention in training camp that year, and not always in a positive way. Palmer and an assistant coach were caught saying that the receiver didn’t try hard every play in camp.
Last year, “Hard Knocks” featured the Miami Dolphins, who released Johnson during training camp after his arrest in a domestic battery case.
NFL Films will have five camera crews at Paul Brown Stadium and eight remote-controlled cameras set up in team meeting rooms. Fans got an inside look at how the front office operated in 2009 after two tight ends got hurt during camp and Brown suggested a “wild thought” of moving a defensive end to the tight end spot. Nobody offered a contrary opinion, the move was made and it didn’t work out.
There are several intriguing story lines heading into camp. Quarterback Andy Dalton is in the spotlight after two poor showings in the playoffs. Linebacker James Harrison came to Cincinnati as a free agent after the Steelers let him go. Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones is scheduled for trial Aug. 19 on an assault charge. Right tackle Andre Smith missed all of the voluntary off-season workouts and a mandatory minicamp.
Plus, the Bengals will be in Atlanta for four days, practicing against the Falcons before playing them in a preseason game Aug. 8.
The focus this camp is mostly about Cincinnati’s young stars and how they develop.
“The quality is just as good (as 2009) and it’s a totally new roster,” Ketover said. “For us, that summer, I think, took the series to a new level. So we’re thrilled to be back here.”