HBO, NFL Films to present 'Hard Knocks in Season: The Arizona Cardinals' coming this fall

Bob McManaman
Arizona Republic
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The Cardinals have played the Lions 17 times since 2001 and although the two teams won’t meet this season, they’re tied to each other yet again — both will be featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”

In March, it was announced the Lions would be showcased by HBO Sports and NFL Films for an unfiltered, all-access look at what it takes to make it in the NFL with “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Detroit Lions.”

On Monday, it was announced the Cardinals will join them when the sports reality series debuts the second presentation of its multi-episode, in-season edition with the introduction of “Hard Knocks in Season: The Arizona Cardinals.”

It will mark the Cardinals’ first appearance on the “Hard Knocks” series, which originally launched in 2001, but it’s not the first time the franchise has been spotlighted in such a way. In 2016, the Cardinals were featured on the premier season of the Amazon Original Series “All or Nothing,” which chronicled the team throughout the 2015 season and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary.

The “Hard Knocks” franchise has garnered 18 Sports Emmys during its acclaimed run and it is sure to draw more attention by following the Cardinals as they navigate through the 2022 season amid hopes of returning to the playoffs for a second straight year. The series will be available on HBO and be streamed on HBO Max during the 2022 season beginning in November.

The Arizona Cardinals will be featured in HBO's Hard Knocks in Season during the 2022 season.

“Hard Knocks in Season” debuted last fall with the engaging and eventful drama of the Colts’ 2021 regular-season journey.

“Last season Hard Knocks made an unprecedented leap, documenting an NFL regular season in real-time for the first time ever with the Indianapolis Colts,” said Keith Cossrow, NFL Films vice president and senior coordinating producer. “It was a vivid and illuminating look at the life of an NFL team.

“This season, we are eager to build on that success and go even further with one of the most exciting teams in the NFL. We can’t wait to get to work in Arizona and we thank (Owner) Michael Bidwill, (General Manager) Steve Keim, coach (Kliff) Kingsbury and the entire organization for this opportunity.”

NFL head coaches typically get a little leery about a crowd of cameras infiltrating the practice fields, locker room and meeting rooms. Kingsbury, though, said he welcomes the armada of folks from NFL Films that will be invading the Cardinals’ Tempe training facility and State Farm Stadium during the fall.   

“I think it’s exciting,” Kingsbury said Monday after the first day of the team’s three-day OTA session. “Obviously, any time you get a chance to highlight some of the great people we have in this building, not just players, but coaches, staff, to kind of tell their stories and see a different side of them, I think it’ll be really good TV.

“Talking with (Colts GM) Chris Ballard when they went through it last year, there were some positives and negatives but they were 3-5 when the show came and they won six out of seven and felt like it was kind of a shot in the arm, I think, to have them come in. We’ll see, but it should be a pretty cool experience.”

Here’s a look at the teams that have appeared on Hard Knocks throughout the years: Ravens (2001), Cowboys (2002), Chiefs (2007), Cowboys (2008), Bengals (2009), Jets (2010), Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Falcons (2014), Texans (2015), Rams (2016), Buccaneers (2017), Browns (2018), Raiders (2019), Rams and Chargers (2020), Cowboys (2021) and Colts (2021).

“We’re excited to feature the Arizona Cardinals on Hard Knocks during the NFL regular season in the upcoming installment of Hard Knocks in Season,” said Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller, co-heads of HBO Documentary and Family Programming. “We couldn’t be happier to continue to expand our tremendously successful partnership with the NFL and grow the Hard Knocks experience for our viewers. We’re thrilled that the Cardinals will be joining the roster of teams that have graciously invited our audiences into their world.”

Cardinals safety Budda Baker said he’s looking forward to letting viewers get a deeper, unplugged look at what the Cardinals are all about and said he’s been a fan of the “Hard Knocks” series.

“I’ve watched them before,” Baker said. “Usually, I just watch film on my IPad so I’m not really watching a lot of football on TV, but yeah, I’ve definitely watched it and it’s definitely cool to just see how different guys are in the league and how their personalities are different and what guys like outside of football is also cool.”

Asked which player they think might possibly become a star during the “Hard Knocks in Season” series, Baker suggested defensive end J.J. Watt, the former three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and wide receiver Antoine Wesley mentioned second-year wideout Rondale Moore.

“He’s a little bit quiet,” Wesley said of Brown, “but once you get to know him more, there’s a lot of, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that about you.’ ”

Kingsbury had a different answer.

“If they can go film Hop while he’s suspended, that would be the best TV,” Kingsbury said referring to receiver DeAndre Hopkins. “But I don’t think they can.”

The five-episode, preseason edition of “Hard Knocks” featuring the Lions is set to debut on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch. 

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