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Players react to ‘Hard Knocks’ mandate

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The NFL now has authority to compel teams to participate in HBO’s reality show Hard Knocks, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports.

“Teams that have appeared on the show in the last 10 years, reached the playoffs within two years, or have a new coach can opt out of the pool of potential teams for that year,” La Canfora reports.

July 27 2012; Davie, FL, USA; HBO sports series Hard Knocks is seen taping a feature mini-series during their practices at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

July 27 2012; Davie, FL, USA; HBO sports series Hard Knocks is seen taping a feature mini-series during their practices at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hard Knocks showcases a behind-the-scenes look at training camp and has more than its share of fans, including Chiefs players.

“I actually kind of enjoy watching Hard Knocks,” kicker Ryan Succop said. “I think it’s a cool show. I think they do a really good job with it. It’s pretty realistic for the most part, I mean I’m sure they add some stuff in there to make it a little more entertaining.”

The Chiefs organization isn’t a stranger to the show, having been featured in 2007.

But a walk around the team’s locker room on Wednesday reflected various opinions on the program, including a response from a player some may find surprising given his following in Kansas City.

“Bringing somebody from the outside in is nothing but a distraction,” tight end Sean McGrath said. “I really don’t have a real standpoint because I don’t really know anyone who’s been on it or I’ve never been on it myself. But I know that a lot of times coaches try to cut out the distractions, so that’s all I can look at it as an outside distraction that can hinder the path of where a team is going.”

Linebacker Akeem Jordan, a seven-year pro, said he wouldn’t have an issue if the Chiefs decided to reappear on the show during training camp.

“It really doesn’t matter because everybody is focused on making the team and preparing for the season,” Jordan said. “I don’t think the cameras will affect that. I don’t think it would be a problem for me.”

Offensive lineman Donald Stephenson said the league’s decision to compel a team to participate is a sign of the times.

“That’s our day and age,” he said. “People want to see up close and personal, so I guess the NFL has to respond to the demands of the fans. They’re doing what they have to do.

However, don’t count Stephenson as a fan of the league’s initiative.

“That stuff is really up close and personal,” Stephenson said. “Some teams and some personalities don’t like it, but if the NFL says they have to do it, they have to do it. Some players don’t respond good to it, so that’s something they may want to look at.”

Ultimately, the team identified for participation won’t have a say, as Stephenson points out.

That is, unless the team meets the criteria for exemption.

But if the Chiefs ever decide to toss their name in the hat to be on the show, some players won’t mind.

“I enjoy the show and if we’re ever on Hard Knocks, we’ll look forward to it,” Succop said.

Safety Quintin Demps agreed.

“We’ve got personalities,” Demps said. “I definitely can see us on Hard Knocks.”