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No team that's made the playoffs in one of the previous two seasons can be compelled to participate. So that leaves us with the likes of Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, teams like that.

NFL: Hard knockin'

Look, I love "Hard Knocks." It's one of the best things HBO rolls out every year, incredibly well done, a fascinating window into the inner workings of an NFL team.

And, of course, it's great pub for the league.

Which is why the Shield has now taken it upon itself to become HBO's enforcer, mandating that, if no team volunteers for "Hard Knocks," the league will "compel" (i.e., force) a team of its choosing to take part. And there's where I get off the bus.

As great as "Hard Knocks" is, see, it's an incredible intrusion, not to say distraction, for whatever team upon which it inflicts itself. Which is why it's becoming increasingly hard for HBO to get teams to sign up. And, frankly, that's as it should be. There is absolutely no way the league should be strong-arming teams into taking part, no matter how much pub and greenery HBO is throwing its way.

How a coaching staff prepares its team for the season is something that should be solely up to the coaching staff. That's a line the league has no business crossing. You're messing with the product if you do so -- and the product is solid gold right now.

Besides ... according to the mandate, no team that's made the playoffs in one of the previous two seasons can be compelled to participate. So that leaves us with the likes of Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, teams like that.

Zzzzzzz.

Ben Smith's blog.

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