Posted: 1:26 pm Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Falcons to be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones stretches during team practice on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Flowery Branch. His return will be a big story on HBO Hard Knocks this summer. (Curtis Compton)

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones stretches during team practice on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Flowery Branch. His return will be a big story on HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer. (Curtis Compton)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons will be featured on HBO Sports’ award-winning documentary series Hard Knocks, the team announced 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.Falcons Hard knocks

The Falcons have been approached before, but have been reluctant to appear on the hit show.

The Falcons turned down an offer from HBO a few years ago.

The sports documentary chronicles the team’s training camp. Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals were in the show.

“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,” Falcons owner Arthur M. Blank said. “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.”

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. 

“We are thrilled that the ninth edition of the Hard Knocks series will spotlight the Atlanta Falcons,” said Ken Hershman, HBO Sports’ president. “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 participate.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith was not a big fan of the show. When with Baltimore as an assistant coach he went to great lengths to avoid the HBO cameras.

He apparently has changed his tune.

“We are looking forward to connecting with our fans across the country as the program chronicles our 2014 training camp,” Smith said. “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.”

Here’s some background on the Falcons and how they viewed the show.

“I truly believe that an organization has to be in the right spot to jump into something like Hard Knocks,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in an interview back in 2011. “I think it sheds a lot of light on 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.”

The team wasn’t ready when previously approached.

“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 off some more brand recognition.” 

PHASE THREE OF OFFSEASON PROGRAM

–Today, June 12 – OTA No. 9.

–Friday, June 13 – OTA No. 10.

–Monday, June 16 – Physicals.

–Tuesday, June 17 — Day One: Mandatory minicamp (5 practices over three days)

–Wednesday, June 18 – Day Two: Mandatory minicamp.

–Thursday, June 19 – Day Three: Mandatory minicamp. (Offseason program ends for veterans).

TBA – Rookie Symposium

TBA – (Late July) – Report to Training camp.

PRACTICES WITH TEXANS — Wednesday, August 13 and Thursday, August 14.

THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

 DRAFT CLASS STORIES

Jake Matthews brings strength of family to the Falcons

Ra’Shede Hageman could turn into defensive force for Falcons

Dezmen Southward ready to compete for playing time

Warrick Dunn likes the pick of FSU’s Devonta Freeman

Falcons signed 20 undrafted rookie free agents, 5 from SEC 

Falcons invite 24 players in for tryouts

NFL Draft 2014: ESPN’s Todd McShay on the Falcons’ draft class

VIDEO: Reaction to the Atlanta Falcons’ 2014 draft class

THE ATLANTA FALCONS 2014 DRAFT CLASS

Round 1 / 6 — Jake Matthews, RT, 6-5, 308, Texas A&M

Round 2/37 – Ra’Shede Hageman, DE, 6-6, Minnesota

Round 3/68 – Dezmen Southward, FS, 6-0, 211, Wisconsin

Round 4/103 – Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-8, 206, Florida State

Round 4/139 – Prince Shembo, LB, 6-1, 253 Notre Dame

Round 5/147 – Ricardo Allen, CB, 5-9, 187, Purdue

Round 5/168 – Marquis Spruill, LB, 6-1, 231, Syracuse

Round 7/253 – Yawin Smallwood, LB, 6-2, 246, Connecticut

Round 7/255 – Tyler Starr, LB, 6-4, 250, South Dakota

39 comments
TreeRollins
TreeRollins

In other words, because everyone acknowledges this team sucks anyway, who cares what effect it has this year? Arthur wants his chance to sow himself on the cameras!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Yet another sign Arthur is close to pulling the plug on Smitty & Hair-gel. :)

HBO has had the Falcons atop their wish list for 5 years running with Arthur being in favor of the project only to be talked out of it by the dynamic duo. :(

Those 2 didn't have a change of heart following 4&12, if anything they were against now more than ever!

HarveyPooka
HarveyPooka

Oh great.  Another scripted 'reality' report, written by some low level wannabe author, who can only get published by incorporating himself with a sham online company. Nobody but the 8 year olds will be watching.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I'm laughing already and they haven't even shown these bozo's on the HBO special yet!

And they called the prior owners the Smiths "the Clampetts"?? You ain't seen nothin' yet folks!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Arthur + "5 for 1" boy Genius Dimitroff once again show they are DOOSH Baggs!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

This is purely an opportunity for Arthur Blank to get on television - that guy is so vain! It's why he's constantly on the sidelines. This was all his idea - Mike Smith didn't want it. He avoids the media.

While Arthur gets tired of sniff in' Matt Ryan's jockey strap, he decides to feature himself on TV. You watch, he's going to constantly be in the picture. Give me a break. His new stadium is all for his ego also - nothing wrong with that GA Dome at all!

Wake up and smell the coffee Atlanta. Expect another lost season - Spoon's already gone. It's all just starting. Tommy Boy "5 for 1" Dimitroff in the camera with Arthur every chance they get.

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit thinking about it.

Dman
Dman

Can't wait to watch. It will be fun watching us get ready for the season ahead. It will be a great way for us Falcon fans to get to know our team better. HBO does a good job with this show.

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

I just may get HOB agian so I cant wathc this train reck. I use 2 have it but cancled it B Cuz they have have that comunist Bill Maehr on all the time. 

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

No complaints here. All access to my favorite team. Win-Win for me.

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

Just grate now the hole wrold is gonna see just how sux the Flacons R. On the brite side this will exsope Dummytroff 4 the dummy he is and Blanks will have 2 frie him!

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Maybe all the extra cameras will help the situation.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

Well, this decision has got Author Blanks name written all over it. Being said that, if you're a good football team it won't matter. After hard knocks ends--- you still have to win football games. If you want to prove that this isn't a distraction like most fans and the media think. You can silence them temporarily by coming out the gate--- and winning against the Saints. Even though the Panthers won the division last season most pundits think that the Saints will win the division.

Jamesr1991
Jamesr1991

It always turn to the OL as the reason Matt Slushie (Squishie for those of Indian/Pakistani heritage). Dude can't move his feet. That other guy didn't have a line either but he always took the blame. Once you give a dude the money he has WITHOUT WINNING PLAYOFF GAMESssss. You pay the price pun intended.


No need to display this teams weaknesses to the entire country. Next thing you know they'll be focusing on wives and their in fighting. Oops did I say theirs in fighting sorry Kim and Bierman.

FalconBraveTarheel
FalconBraveTarheel

I am looking forward to seeing some of the behind the scenes access and I don,t think it is the end of the world to appear!!

DOrlandoLedbetter
DOrlandoLedbetter moderator

My favorite line: "The five-part series on the Bengals last August averaged 3.6 million viewers per episode."

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

OK, so now that Weatherspoon is out for the season the Falcons brass has just thrown in the towel on winning football and gone Hollywood?

This is a COMPLETE non-starter. The ENTIRE focus should be on FOOTBALL, the blocking, tackling, pass protection, ground game and particularly stopping opponents before they can generate serial first downs and touchdowns.

Wake me up when this farce is over.

JSSN
JSSN

The whole country will get a chance to make a drinking game out of "Smitty Talk," "The Ryan Metaphor," and "The Dimitroff Side Step!"

WilliamBuchheit
WilliamBuchheit

They know they better do something before the fan base loses interest.


GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

A foolish move by the Falcons -who need to focus on football- and HBO -who will be disappointed in the ratings. Until the Flowery Branch mindset turns from marketing to building a championship caliber team, the on-field results will stay the same.

Obama_Joke
Obama_Joke

Ryan knows all about taking hard knocks.  Poor guy would be elite with a good O line.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

* Starring *

................. prime time D. Led on HBO.

syrupmaker
syrupmaker

Blank trying to get that  increased exposure/advertising to sell those stadium PSLs.

Whiznot
Whiznot

I thought Hard Knocks was supposed to feature a pro football team.

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

$50 says Ledbetter gets some face time on HBO.


Time to update the bow

KatieR620
KatieR620

and the sales pitch to come sit in the new massively overpriced stadium to see an averagely talented football team begins.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

WTH.....Not a good idea. Watching Spoon Hobbling around on crutches.  This ritural will become the 'new' Madden Curse.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

He attacks liberals as much as conservatives now.

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@DOrlandoLedbetter Well it is an episode. They frame football practice and young dudes going through a try out into a show.

kls82883
kls82883

@GeorgeJetsen The ratings won't be affected. The NFL is a brand itself. Regardless what team appears on the show, the show will draw viewers across the NFL.

OriginalATLien
OriginalATLien

Not hardly.....Bengals made the playoffs last year and that's not a curse.