Why “Hard Knocks” Is Succeeding

August 24th, 2017

Made for TV.

This will make eye-RAH! Kaufman squirm in his seat.

The Custodian of Canton, the King of New Port Richey, the sage of NFL writers, prized JoeBucsFan.com columnist Ira Kaufman famously said in a recent airing of his popular “Ira Kaufman Podcast” that the Bucs being featured on Hard Knocks “doesn’t play in Peoria.”

The numbers suggest there are Bucs fans in Peoria, and beyond.

Last’s week’s Episode 2 of “Hard Knocks” with the Bucs pulled in 831,000 viewers, per SportsTVRatings.com. Only one sports-related show last Tuesday got more viewers — barely — and that was “Pardon the Interruption” on BSPN.

Mind you BSPN is on most basic cable packages. HBO is a pay-TV service.

How good are the numbers? It would make the Bucs’ edition of “Hard Knocks” the second-most watched “Hard Knocks” series since 2010, when Capt. Lou Albano and the Jets were featured. The highest rated since the Jets? That would be the 2015 Houston Texans.

Houston is the No. 8 TV market in the country; Tampa Bay is 11th.

So why is “Hard Knocks” succeeding this year? Simple, types Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. It’s all about America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston.


Should anybody be surprised by the report that Jameis Winston’s jersey sales have soared this month?

Winston has been a certified Charisma Machine for three weeks and counting. He loves football, he loves his teammates, and he loves the cameras. Everybody wins. Hard Knocks has also done a great job illustrating how far Winston still has to go from a development standpoint.

Winston is the center of the Bucs’ universe, but he’s also a genuine work in progress. It’s been fascinating to see how those two realities play off each other.

Hanzus nailed it, but he also gave three other reasons: practice-hating, kicker-heckling, tree-grinding Swaggy Baker, Riley Bullough and winning Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.

Jameis is the key. NFL Films producers are pros and they know charismatic figures when they see one. Jameis just sweats charisma. His bigger-than-life personality bounces from the TV screen. But there is more to it than just that, which Hanzus touched upon.

Jameis is still growing as an NFL quarterback. He has the resumé, has the skillset, has just about everyone raving about his talent from Koetter to Chucky to Capt. Lou Albano. But Jameis isn’t quite there yet.

“Hard Knocks” is as much about Jameis’ journey from prodigy to star as anything else. We watch his superior, off-the-charts leadership and his asinine throw. And viewers are along for the ride.

Joe is trying to think of a star quarterback who had a Hollywood-central-casting personality like Jameis — honest-to-goodness made-for-TV swag.

Maybe not since Joe Namath. Cam Newton, Dan Marino or Terry Bradshaw, perhaps?

30 Responses to “Why “Hard Knocks” Is Succeeding”

  1. BoJim Says:

    Yeah. Seems like America pretty much forgot about the Bucs after Gruden left. Now they get to see why the Bucs are back.

  2. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Sure Let’s focus on Jameis as “non bucs fans”

    but all bucs fans love everything else…..

    last week’s episode was the first one that I thought wasn’t boring…it was really edited and put together very well.

  3. IowaBucFan Says:

    It’s playing on my TV 90 miles west of Peoria… I got HBO just to watch it. Loving every minute of it!

  4. Dreambig Says:

    After all the bad press on Jameis coming out of college, his reputation was completely trashed, deserved or not. Every time the country gets to see Jameis with kids, or Jameis smiling and showing his passion for his team mates, it gives people a chance to see who he really is and gives them permission to let go of some of that media generated hatred of a teenage college student.

  5. Fsuking Says:

    I still deal with people who think Jameis is a dumb rapist. It’s terrible how they framed him coming out of college! We are so lucky to have Jameis, he might actually be my favorite living person

  6. SCBucsFan Says:

    I think the success is due to the 3 seconds of hearing the stick carriers chanting. Ira called it.

  7. ChanEpic Says:

    Jameis’ ascent to media stardom was almost a given. I think our Head Coach Mr. Koetter has shown himself to be another star, in his field and on screen.
    Episode 3 was one of my fav episodes in this series. It was FILLED with comedy and drama the whole episode. Jameis’ staring into space eating a twinkie(?) after being chewed out by Koetter was so great. The young buck CB playing on a shredded knee, making the game saving play and STILL getting cut… This episode had it all.

  8. mark2001 Says:

    Sorry man…. The Bears play in Peoria, among the suffering few. The Packers are the darling, as winners always have a plethora of bandwagon fans. And there is a smattering of other fans of mostly winning teams. That being said, I’ve never met another Bucs fan when visiting the old stomping grounds….but I suppose a few years of playoffs and hopefully a future SB victory will change all that. Heck man, with the Cat world headquarters moving, Cat doesn’t even play in Peoria like it used to.

  9. shouldhavedraftedeifert Says:

    I don’t think that 831,000 is correct.


  10. SCBucsFan Says:

    mark2001; as a Nationals fan you never saw the curly W (outside of walgreens lol) when out of that area; soon as they became a contender I see them all over the place now. Winning and being respectable has a way of making your team popular outside the hometown fanbase for sure.

  11. Kobe Faker Says:

    while the sportswriters screwed jameis from winning the rookie of the year award by giving it to a 1100 yard rusher

    the Pepsi rookie award where people vote, Jameis won by a landslide

    Kobe is thinking the majority age group that is watching hard knocks is 13-26 years old

    Jameis is probably #1 favorite player in the 13-21 national age group…because jameis is real

    While the Buc Realist grewup with a silver spoon, Kobe Faker grewup from the streets

    “Now look at me now”

    Kobe Faker

  12. Brandon Says:

    “Now look at me now”

    Kobe Faker


    Wow, look at you now. You’re posting on a web site, don’t use capital letters or punctuation. You could be a 3rd grader for all we know.

  13. TampaTown Says:

    I went to opening day 2013, the first game at the new MetLife stadium vs the Jets. I could not believe the number of people wearing Bucs gear. I talked to a few thinking they had made the trip like me but they lived there. Most mentioned our Fab Four of Lynch, Sapp, Brooks & Barber and watching them
    during our SuperBowl era. Some said they liked the logo because we had switched when they were kids. So winning does change hearts and minds. If we can convert those in NY/NJ anything is possible. Of course, being 2013, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a late LVD penalty and then a game winning kick for the Jets by Nick Folk.

  14. Ryan Says:

    I am not too proud to tell you, I hoped for Mariota coming out of college, and I am a Seminoles fan – I was afraid the localness of Famous Jameis was elevating his hype to a point that he would be inconsistent… and while I wasn’t WRONG (as that throw-from-the-ground indicated in the last game), I WAS wrong that Mariota was a better choice. Jameis IS the Bucs team right now, and rightfully so. The kid has got what it takes, and it’s so great to hear the Bucs being discussed on a National level. When I went to Training Camp, I wanted ONE autograph and got it and I cannot wait for the day when I get to hand that football to a grandson and tell him about the year Jameis Winston took us all the way. (Not sure if it’s this year, but one can dream!)

  15. TampaTown Says:

    @ Brandon:
    That was alittle harsh. Kobe Faker is right. Jameis should have been rookie of the year. Such BS and totally political. The NFL wanted to reward and give headlines to the Rams for moving to LA. Jameis got robbed.

  16. NFLNut Says:

    Not since Namath has their been a legit star QB with the charisma of Jameis … Marino and Bradshaw aren’t even close … and Cam is viewed as “fake” by nearly everyone it seems.

    Jameis is the NFL’s Magic Johnson!

  17. SCBucsFan Says:

    WRT Kobe Faker, fans also vote for MLB all stars. How accurate is that?

  18. Joe Says:


    As Joe pointed out, he referenced Episode 2, which was last week.

  19. Lamarcus Says:

    So ppl watch more espn than bucs on hard knocks. 🙁

  20. shouldhavedraftedeifert Says:

    Thanks @Joe, no brain good today.

  21. shouldhavedraftedeifert Says:

    I don’t think Jameis was huge part of those numbers. The kicker drama was more the reason, everyone loves seeing a train wreck and damn did they provide one that episode. This week viewership was half that almost. Good marketing on HBO’s part to create some drama, this week not enough drama. Still one of the best Hard Knocks seasons ever and I’ve seen them all.

  22. Mike Johnson Says:

    Domebody here suggest america forgot about the Bucs after Gruden? Wrong answer. The bucs were forgotten because they failed to win..Period. Nobody follows a loser. Well, maybe in a prison gang! The Bucs showed promise last year and anything less than that effort this year is a Fail..Period! You want more followers? Win. The HBo specials are all for nought unless we win. And we, us, die hard football fans had better hope this Colin K situation does not keep picking up steam. There is now rumblings of a strike by players. And if it gains momentum?… Don’t say it cannot happen because it can.

  23. Wausa Says:

    Ira was obviously wrong on HK.

    One of the things I love about the show is how it reflects what kind of person Jameis Winston is.

    In my opinion reporters that attempted to portray Jameis as a monster deserve the most blame when it comes to the false narrative regarding Jameis.

    Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times was the biggest culprit of them all.
    In a February 26, 2015 article in the Tampa Bay Times Matt Baker compares the story of Jameis Winston to that of convicted Child Molester Jerry Sandusky.

  24. T in Orlando Says:

    Namath’s personality + Montana’s leadership + Manning’s work ethic + Rothlesburger’s ecapability + Favre’s approach to the game = Jameis Winston

    If he could somehow get Elway’s arm strength (Jameis has very strong arm but not elite) and Marino’s release (not even close, but at least he’s improving upon his almost Leftwich-like from when he left FSU) that would be a damn near perfect qb.

  25. Joe Says:


    Thanks @Joe, no brain good today.

    No problem. Happens to Joe too often. 🙂

  26. Pickgrin Says:

    So Baker has already built up a list of pre-mention links. LOL Swaggy is such a “character” – pretty soon that list is going to look like Peter King’s…

    My favorite thing about Hard Knocks – aside from seeing what an amazing leader Winston is every minute of the day – has been getting an inside look at how coach Koetter handles this team. Coach is very no-nonsense when need be and won’t hesitate to tear into any player when they make a major mental error. I like seeing that.

  27. buc15 Says:

    Those numbers are actually quite impressive if you consider how many people are watching it on hacked fire sticks or roku devices

  28. Maze Says:

    Cam Newton??? No way dude

  29. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Def was a koetter supporter as HC… but didnt realize how much of a great no bs HC… its refreshing and awesome, when he told kwon you fn held and cost us or mfd jameis on his throw but also said how great he was doing…. and cutting aguayo where Licht hemmed and hawed about how good aguayo was but wasnt getting it done… koetter basically told him you arent good enough PERIOD….very refreshing and awesome to have a REAL HC in charge

  30. RustyRhinos Says:

    Does this mean we will have to skip thru all his bag o tricks every time his name is posted? (practice-hating, kicker-heckling, tree-grinding) Swaggy Baker.
    I hope not. I hope we see him get several sacks.
    Haven’t yet watched this week’s episode of Hard Knocks. Tonight I will.
    Go Bucs!