Fans of NFL Hard Knocks series on HBO finally found out who the crew was going to follow this season. For better or for worse the Atlanta Falcons will be followed by HBO cameras all the way to the end of training camp. I am not sure if the organization volunteered or the NFL realized that somebody had to do the series this year. Due to the level of distraction associated with the show a lot teams have opted not to participate. The Falcons are coming off their first losing season in five years and I am sure that has some fans worried.
The teams that have traditionally been on the Hard Knocks program have not done exceptionally well during that season. That all being said there is nothing that has proved that cameras have caused the problems that plagued the underachieving teams of the past. There have been teams that have had good seasons like the 2010 Jets and last year’s Cincinnati Bengals team both made the playoffs and were competitive. That being said no team has made it to the SuperBowl while doing Hard Knocks.
The NFL tries to navigate an interesting dynamic of trying to give fans all access but at the same time teams maintaining their competitive edge. I could see why some teams would be apprehensive in bringing in extra distractions to a camp where they are trying to get younger players acclimated to the NFL. The organizations will also want to avoid any controversy that can come from cameras catching something that the American public may not be ready to see. As we learned with the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito incident last year football culture differs vastly from how we interact in polite society.
The Falcons are in interesting choice for this show. What makes me think that the team will be able to handle the pressure of the extra coverage also is not generally what television producers think make good programming. The organization has strong level headed leadership and Head Coach Mike Smith is not the colorful personality that will provide a lot of one liners. The club’s quarterback situation is stable and there won’t be a lot of high profile position battles. Their rookies will not even bring that much drama. Their first round draft pick is an offensive lineman who kind of already knows the NFL culture. The Falcons wins and losses this year will only be a result of the hard knocks that they deliver or fail to deliver to their opponents.
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr