NFL: HBO’s Hard Knocks Lift the Curtain on the Oakland Raiders in 2019

The song “It’s a hard knock life,” brought the fictional character of Annie to life on Broadway and big screen, but the pains of an adorable little orphan pale in comparison to some of the bone-jarring blows delivered and received on the football field. In the NFL, arguably one of the most notorious and feared teams playing in the league is the Oakland Raiders.

Among the Raiders’ many accolades and attributes include being one of the most penalized teams in the league along with players near the top of the pack with hefty fines levied by the NFL. For former 49ers and Raiders lineman Aldon Smith, his troubles with the law and struggles with substance abuse led to almost $5 million in fines and an indefinite suspension from the league which is a pretty severe blow in itself.

In short, the Oakland Raiders feature plenty of drama on and off the field, and football fans have a chance to see it as the franchise will be the star of the 2019 edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks. The 2019 version of the behind-the-scenes look at NFL training camp debuts Aug. 6.

Raiders head to Hard Knocks

We recently found out the Raiders will be making an appearance on the HBO summer mini-series Hard Knocks, sending fans, players and sportscasters flocking to Twitter to share their enthusiastic reactions to the news:

  • NFL Network sportscaster Jane Slater shared, “Hard Knocks 2019. Count me in. Storylines Booming.”
  • Recent acquisition Antonio Brown tweeted “Get your popcorn ready,” and “It’s a hard knock life for us,” which grabbed the attention of teammate Derek Carr who responded with, “Yes sirrrrr brodie!!!”
  • NFL commentator Adam Rank revealed, “[Jon] Gruden, AB,  [Vontaze] Burfict, Carr. This hard Knocks roster is the best ensemble cast since Ocean’s 11.”

Another former 49er and Raiders frontman once playing in the safety slot, Louis Riddick tweeted, “Everyone wants to be a Raider. Now they’ll find out what it takes to become one.”

Oakland Raiders back in action

The Oakland Raiders will provide plenty of entertainment on HBO's Hard Knocks in 2019.
The Oakland Raiders will provide plenty of entertainment on HBO’s Hard Knocks.| Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

HBO’s Hard Knocks hit the air in 2001, and it’s been on TV off and on since then. There was a hiatus from 2003-2006, and 2011 was the only year since then that the series didn’t air. The NFL’s labor issues made teams and network executives bristle at the thought of being featured on the show.

Speaking of being featured, this will be the first time the Oakland Raiders star on Hard Knocks despite all the colorful characters and behind-the-scenes drama in Raider Nation. Only two teams have made the cut twice. The Dallas Cowboys took center stage in 2002 and 2008, and the Cincinnati Bengals starred in 2009 and 2013.

Real hard knocks from the past

When you’re considered one of the toughest teams in the league, injuries come along as part of the territory. The Raiders are no strangers to pain with getting hurt on the field and have suffered some bone-breaking blows.

Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders will provide plenty of entertainment on HBO's Hard Knocks in 2019.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.| Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There was a collective gasp in the stands back in 2016 when watching Derek Carr writhing in pain suffering a broken leg after being sacked by Trent Cole of the Colts.

Just a few weeks earlier, Carr returned to play after dislocating his pinkie finger in two places, which proved Carr is a real boss when it comes to playing through the pain. However, for another Raider injured in the line of duty, Bo Jackson was also witnessed in agony on the gridiron with one of the most devastating injuries in the league.

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson holds the distinction of being of the first professional athlete to be named an All-Star in two different sports, baseball and football. For those who watched Jackson playing in the NFL in 1990, he was having a banner year as a Raider until a blow during a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals sidelined the athlete permanently with a severe hip injury.

Jackson was associated with the commercial phrase “Bo knows football,” but apparently he also knows his body since he claims to have popped his hip back into place on the playing field after the injury occurred. Similar to some of the dilemmas later faced by Carr, these two bad boys of the NFL have a well-earned reputation for toughing it out on the field in Raiders uniforms.