Smile! Jets have a change of heart for their summer appearance on 'Hard Knocks'

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Robert Saleh and the New York Jets are fully tuned in now to their turn on “Hard Knocks.”

After making it clear last month the Jets would prefer to not be on the HBO documentary series this summer, Saleh showed up to his first news conference of training camp Thursday decked out in a black long-sleeved T-shirt that displayed his change of heart.

“I (green heart) HK” was printed on the Jets coach’s chest in white capital letters.

It’s all lights, cameras, action — and no hard feelings — now.

“Just talking with ‘Hard Knocks,’ they’ve got a great group of people working with us,” Saleh said after practice Thursday. “We expressed some of our concerns and they answered it. And, you know, it’s going to be fine.”

When the Jets were being discussed last month as the potential team to be featured on the series produced by HBO and NFL Films, Saleh and the Jets openly rooted against it.

“I know there’s several teams that would love for ‘Hard Knocks’ to be in their building,” he said at the time, “but we’re just not one of them.”

The Jets reportedly discussed tweaking some of the access, including not showing players being cut — a popular segment every summer in the series.

There are several conditions set by the NFL in 2014 that make teams automatically eligible to be chosen to be selected to appear on “Hard Knocks.” Those include not making the playoffs the past two seasons, not having appeared on the show in the past 10 years and not having a new head coach.

The Jets checked all of those boxes — and they have Aaron Rodgers.

So they appeared an obvious choice to be the stars this summer. New Orleans, Chicago and Washington were the other teams that met the automatic requirements.

After New York was chosen, Rodgers said last week during the American Century Championship golf event in Lake Tahoe that he wasn’t a fan of being on the show.

“There’s a lot of eyes on me, a lot of eyes on our team, a lot of expectations for our squad, so they forced it down our throats and we’ve got to deal with it,” said the four-time NFL MVP, who was acquired from Green Bay in April.

Like Saleh, Rodgers appeared at ease now with the Jets appearing on “Hard Knocks.”

“There’s nothing like New York, so I understand that — I appreciate that,” Rodgers said. “I’ve been in an incredible town for 18 years. This is an incredible sports town. There’s a lot of great franchises here. So I look forward to to everything that comes with that.

“We kind of knew that they were really wanting us to be a part of ‘Hard Knocks,’ and this just brings more attention to us. I don’t think there’s anything nefarious about the way it went down, but I’m excited about people getting to see what we’re all about here and then the interactions with you all during the weeks.”

This is the Jets’ second appearance on “Hard Knocks” and first since Rex Ryan’s team did it in 2010, which also marks the most recent time the Jets made the postseason in the longest-active skid in the league.

Saleh said the Jets’ in-house video production, “One Jets Drive,” an all-access documentary series, will make it easier for the players and coaches to tune out all the extra cameras.

“Yeah, we’re fine,” Saleh said. “It’s no different than ‘One Jets Drive.’”

The premiere for the 18th edition of the five-episode show featuring the Jets is Aug. 8.


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