The NFL has confirmed that the Atlanta Falcons will be the subject of this year’s edition of Hard Knocks on HBO. The behind-the-scenes look at training camp, which is co-produced by NFL Films, kicks off a five-episode ninth season on Aug. 5.
This year, for the first time, the league approved a policy that would have enabled it to force a team to participate in the series if it didn’t get a volunteer, but the Falcons weren’t on the list of teams that could be obligated to take part since they made the playoffs two years ago (those with new head coaches, those who had starred on the show in the last 10 years and those who had made the playoffs in either of the last two years were reportedly exempt).
So the Falcons volunteered, which is interesting because HBO and NFL Films have seemingly been pulling teeth in order to get candidates on board in recent years. And the Arthur Blank/Thomas Dimitroff/Mike Smith regime has been in place since 2008.
Why are they suddenly stepping forward? Who knows, but this isn’t exactly a team flush with bright personalities or big names. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon might have had potential, but he’s out for the year after rupturing his Achilles tendon.
Still, the dynamic of a long-time contender trying to redeem itself after a disastrous season is intriguing, and the guys at HBO and NFL Films always find some fun and/or dramatic stories to latch onto. Mike Tice was signed to take over the offensive line this offseason, so look for him to get some camera time. And veterans like Devin Hester, Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora are trying to extend their careers, which should make them popular figures.
The Falcons become the seventh team to participate in the series since it launched back in 2011, joining the Ravens (2001), Cowboys (2002 and 2008), Chiefs (2007), Bengals (2009 and 2013), Jets (2010) and Dolphins (2012). The show didn’t air between 2003 and 2006 and was cancelled due to a lack of volunteering teams during labor strife in 2011.