Who knows if the upcoming NFL season will start on time—COVID-19’s widespread effects have made the entire sports calendar a moving target. But if teams report to training camp as planned in the coming months, HBO will have the cameras rolling. After zeroing in on the Raiders last summer (the team’s farewell to Oakland and Antonio Brown’s continued soap opera were the key plot elements of that particular installment), HBO will set up shop in Tinseltown for a super-sized edition of Hard Knocks featuring both Los Angeles franchises: the Sean McVay-led Rams and Anthony Lynn’s L.A. Chargers. The scoop comes from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who shared the news early Tuesday morning.
Assuming HBO gets the green light—safety comes first in this time of uncertainty—the proposed dual Hard Knocks could be the most ambitious yet. The two teams will be sharing a new home in 2020, moving their operations to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The change of venue promises to be a vast improvement for the Bolts, who have been slumming it in an MLS stadium (the 27,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson) for the past three seasons. While that farce was happening, the Rams (formerly of St. Louis) were subletting the Los Angeles Coliseum, best-known for hosting USC Trojans football as well as the 1984 Summer Olympics. Rather ominously, Rams COO Kevin Domof has hinted that complications stemming from the coronavirus outbreak could delay the stadium’s unveiling. Popstar Taylor Swift was going to ring in the new digs with a concert planned for July 25, a rousing kickoff event that now appears in doubt.
HBO producers won’t have to wrack their brains to find new and exciting angles as the subjects of this year’s Hard Knocks are both flush with juicy plot points and compelling narratives. The Chargers find themselves in a transition period, looking to find a post-Philip Rivers identity. The void left by free-agent defector Melvin Gordon could also be worth exploring. Meanwhile the Rams, helmed by wunderkind head coach Sean McVay (who is nine years Tom Brady’s junior), are at a similar crossroads, looking to regroup following a down season (9-7) in 2019. Los Angeles will be searching for answers on both sides of the ball after turning the page on injury-plagued (and exorbitantly priced) running back Todd Gurley and defensive stalwart Dante Fowler, now members of the Atlanta Falcons.
The new Hard Knocks won’t lack for star power with perennial All-Pro Aaron Donald, ace pass-rusher Joey Bosa and receiving prodigy Keenan Allen among this year’s headliners. These are uncharted waters for the Chargers, who have never been featured on Hard Knocks, while this will be the Rams’ second appearance after debuting on the show in 2016. The inherently GIF-able Jeff Fisher was the star of that season.