The Atlanta Falcons will be featured in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this season, per multiple reports.
Jay Adams of the Falcons’ official website wrote more about the development on June 12:
“The Atlanta Falcons will be featured on HBO Sports’ award-winning documentary series HARD KNOCKS, the club announced on Thursday.
“The Falcons, HBO Sports, and NFL Films will team up for an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League when HARD KNOCKS: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons debuts on August 5.
“The sports-based reality series kicks off its ninth season, presented in HD on Tuesday, Aug. 5 (10 p.m. ET), excusively on HBO. Subsequent hour-long episodes debut on Tuesdays at the same time, with an encore replay every Wednesday in August at 11:00 p.m., culminating in the Sept. 2 season finale.
“‘We are excited about the opportunity to give our fans a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to prepare an NFL team for the rigors of a 16-game regular season and beyond,’ said Falcons Owner & Chairman Arthur M. Blank. ‘This marks the first time that our franchise will be featured on HARD KNOCKS and we look forward to showcasing our great players and coaches to football fans all across America.’
“The award-winning documentary will focus on the daily lives and routines of Falcons players and coaches and showcase the club as it prepares to do battle in the always competitive NFC South Division of the NFL.
“‘We are thrilled that the ninth edition of the HARD KNOCKS series will spotlight the Atlanta Falcons,’ said Ken Hershman, President of HBO Sports. ‘It’s exciting to feature a team, a franchise and a city for the first time on HARD KNOCKS. We are grateful to head coach Mike Smith and the entire organization for agreeing to partcipate and look forward to what we expect to be one of the few summertime programs that is truly appointment TV and we can’t wait for the premiere on August 5th.’
“Additionally, HBO will chronicle an intriguing mix of high-profile veterans, including Pro Bowlers QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones and S William Moore, along with free agents and rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason. Each week, players will experience drills, meetings and fun, while struggling to prove that they have what it takes to make the team and make their mark in the NFL.
“Since 2008, the Falcons have recorded a .625 winning percentage and have qualified for the NFC playoffs four times (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012). During the same time span, the Falcons posted a 13-3 record twice (2010 and 2012) and are one of the NFL’s most dominant teams at home, posting a winning percentage of .750 at the Georgia Dome (36-12).
“‘We are looking forward to connecting with our fans across the country as the program chronicles our 2014 training camp,’ said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. ‘The series will give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the competition between players as we build our roster and prepare for the season. We are looking forward to the start of camp in late July.’
“A 30-person NFL Films crew will be at the Falcons’ training camp at team headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga., shooting more than 1,500 hours of video over the course of the five-week series. Camera and sound crews will be given unencumbered access to the players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, dormitories and practice fields.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, who says last year’s “Hard Knocks” espisode featuring the Cincinnati Bengals averaged 3.6 million viewers, says the Falcons declined an offer to be on the show several years ago. He posted a 2011 interview with Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff who explains why the team turned down the opportunity:
“I truly believe that an organization has to be in the right spot to jump into something like Hard Knocks. I think it sheds a lot of light in our league. This is a league of entertainment. There are some traditionalists that struggle with it, but they have to work against the grain a little bit and see that this is about entertainment. Hard Knocks is a good show for the fan base.
“Two years ago we were approached and decided that it wasn’t right for us at that point. Dimitroff said back in 2011. That’s not to say we wouldn’t go down that road if it was presented to us at another time. We are much closer to being in that spot where it’s not going to be as much of a distraction as it would have been another time.
“It’s such an individual thing. Hard Knocks could be right for some of the teams that are fairly entrenched. It could be right for some team that wants to kick some more brand recognition”
Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery, who was part of the New York Jets team who was on “Hard Knocks” four years ago, told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that being on the show can help the team with its focus heading into the 2014 regular season:
“New Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery knows firsthand all about the HBO series ‘Hard Knocks.’
“And Lowery knows things can get ugly.
“Lowery was a part of the award-winning documentary in 2010 while a member of the New York Jets. He was a spectator what they called the ‘King Ugly’ competition between the rookies.
“‘That thing was hilarious,’ Lowery recalled. ‘Pretty much the players voted for who the ugliest player on the team was. You had to put money in as your vote. Whoever got third place, they got 75 percent of the pot. Second place got 25 percent of the pot. And first place didn’t get anything, because they were so ugly. Some defensive back won, too (Brian Jackson).
“‘I just watched it the other day. And watching it, knowing that I was in those seats, it brings back a lot of memories.'”
Lowery then says having HBO around to film the Falcons’ training camp should help loosen the players up, per ESPN.
“Honestly, my point of view is this: If you’re not able to function when there are cameras around at the facility or practice or wherever, how are you going to go out and win a national game with 60,000 people in the stands? You’re on national TV. Cameras are rolling. If you’re a team that’s fortunate to go all the way, Super Bowl week has become crazier and crazier as the years have progressed.
“There is going to be a lot of that kind of hoopla and jazz going on that you need to focus in that type of situation as well.
“Hopefully, it will be something that we can use for energy on those days in camp where it gets hard and long; kind of keep the mood light, I guess. I honestly don’t think it will be a distraction. If it is, I think only at first because it’s brand new. I think three weeks into training camp, guys will get accustomed to them being there and actually kind of get sick of it.”