One of the highlights of the summer each year is HBO's annual miniseries Hard Knocks, which follows one NFL team through its training camp, preseason games and the process of cutting players and making executive decisions.
And this year's featured team will be the Atlanta Falcons, as the team tweeted on Thursday:
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has more:
The #Falcons volunteered for Hard Knocks, I’m told. They had an out, making the playoffs 2 years ago. They chose to be in.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 12, 2014
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had background on the decision to take part in the show:
While the football operations folks have been opposed to appearing on the show, Blank and the business side folks see being on the show as a major “branding” opportunity for the franchise. The five-part series on the Bengals last August averaged 3.6 million viewers per episode.
The team doesn’t receive any compensation from HBO for appearing on the show.
While fans and pundits alike always enjoy the insider access that Hard Knocks provides, many organizations shy away from being featured on the show. You could make a strong argument that having a camera crew following around players for several weeks is a distraction, while some coaches surely don't enjoy having certain aspects of their regimen exposed.
As Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report notes, however, one coach America should quickly learn to love is Mike Smith, head honcho of the Falcons:
One thing people who don't know Falcons coach Mike Smith will see on Hard Knocks: he is one of the nicest people on the planet.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) June 12, 2014
At first glimpse, the Falcons may seem like a boring choice. After all, a team with a quarterback controversy (think the New York Jets) or perhaps a fiery and brash coach (um, again, think the Jets) or simply one that craves headlines (you're catching the drift here, right?) might seem to offer a more compelling watch.
But the Falcons will offer their own intrigue.
For starters, they went from being a perennial playoff contender to a 4-12 team last year, so watching them attempt to get back atop the NFC South and hearing the veterans talk about what went wrong will be interesting.
So, too, will be checking in on the injured Julio Jones to see how he's coming along in his rehab. And like most NFL teams, they have several players with very interesting backstories, as Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports notes:
Hard Knocks is chronicling the Atlanta Falcons this year. Devonta Freeman's backstory figures to get good play. Same w Tyler Starr.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) June 12, 2014
So no, the Falcons aren't a "boring" choice. And Hard Knocks is never a boring show.
Atlanta should provide fans with just as much entertainment and captivating storylines as they've come to expect with this series.
As for whether the Falcons can pick themselves up and return to the postseason? We'll just have to wait and see about that.