Remember HBO's HardKnocks
series that took viewers inside the training camps of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys? That was one of the best sports-based reality shows because it lifted the curtain on pro sports.
The NFL Network is launching a new 12-part summer series called Inside TrainingCamp
. The show will visit a dozen NFL teams in 24 days, including the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. Premiering Monday, the one-hour show will air Monday-Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
The series kicks off with a visit to the Green Bay Packers training camp and closes with the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 23. Brian Baldinger
and Solomon Wilcots
will serve as analysts, and Paul Burmeister
and Derrin Horton
The NFL used the inside-the-huddle approach to capture the imagination of fans decades ago with documentaries such as The Violent World of Sam Huff
by Walter Cronkite
of CBS in 1960. The NFL Network will place wireless microphones on a long list of coaches, including Brian Billick of the Ravens, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants, Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos and Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts.
Baldinger, 46, thinks there's an audience for a program that shows who's up and who's down and how coaches pick who stays and who goes. "Fans are fascinated by pro football. The more they know, the more interesting it becomes," Baldinger says.
The NFL TV network would ideally like to visit all 32 teams, Baldinger says.
But some teams are more wary of the media than others. The Ravens, for example, are more open than the Philadelphia Eagles. And, no, the show won't visit the Cowboys training camp, where the irresistible force of Terrell Owens will come up against the immovable object of coach Bill Parcells.
Baldinger says Parcells is entertaining, "but it's going to be a circus, and this would just add to it."
The NFL Network has expanded to 41 million homes from 27 million last year, according to spokesman Seth Palansky
. Two-thirds of the network's distribution, however, comes from satellite TV customers of DirecTV and Dish Network.