In an offseason where a lot of the Atlanta Falcons moves (or non-moves) have been questioned by fans, their most recent decision appears to be a sound one. Sources are reporting to ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas that the Falcons have passed on HBO‘s invitation to appear on their NFL reality television program “Hard Knocks”
The show – which has featured the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets in past seasons – follows an NFL team through its training camp and provides an in-depth look at the day to day operations of the team as they prepare for the upcoming season. The Jets were the last team to appear on the series in 2010, as HBO placed the show on hiatus for the 2011 season due to the uncertainty of the labor situation in the NFL during that time. Jets owner Woody Johnson said that the exposure was of “tremendous value” to the franchise. I’m not sure that’s the kind of value that Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants to attach to his team.
Fans around Atlanta openly showed concern about the Falcons appearing on the reality TV show, and rightfully so. Rolling cameras and microphones catching dialogue and behavior that otherwise would go unheard and unseen are not the kind of distractions that a team who is still licking playoff wounds needs to have. The Falcons seemed to have a lack of focus and mental toughness at times last season, and HBO’s reality circus wouldn’t have helped those problems either.
When you have players who have a habit of developing “foot-in-mouth” disease when confronted with a microphone or video camera (or even their own smartphone), it’s best not to exacerbate those conditions by providing them with endless “roll tape” on a day to day basis. Training camp is supposed to be a time of intense focus for the players and coaches, not to be marred by worrying about what someone might say on camera. There have already been a number of gaffs by some of the Falcons this offseason on Twitter and other forms of mass media.
I’m sure doing “Hard Knocks’’ was an intriguing possibility from a marketing and PR standpoint, but thankfully it would appear that focusing on football and improving a team that hasn’t met some lofty expectations came first. The Falcons also have two new coordinators – Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan – and having cameras rolling while trying to install new schemes on both sides of the ball might have been a little dicey.
Sources report that HBO is now looking towards the Jets to return to the show, and with the recent headline-grabbing trade for Tim Tebow, plus the internal strife that has been in this offseason’s headlines, they do seem like a natural selection. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers have also been discussed as possibilities for the show.