Atlanta Falcons have been offered the starring role in this season's version of Hard Knocks. Team not usually announced until May.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 12, 2012
Being one of our favorite shows on television, we were disappointed when HBO's Hard Knocks became the victim of the NFL's prolonged labor unrest. While most NFL teams are ranking players and making their big boards for the draft, behind the scenes HBO and NFL Films go through a similar drill of making their own wish list in terms of what NFL team they'd like to open the kimono on.
Compelling television, chatter on the web, and ratings are at stake as HBO and NFL Films work their way down their list. Sometimes the talks remain secret but in most years and especially as the fall gets closer, you'll often catch wind of what might be going on behind the scenes. This year, the intrigue surrounding who would be selected to appear on Hard Knocks reached fever pitch.
Today, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted what ESPNNY had earlier reported - the starring role in Hard Knocks would be offered to the Atlanta Falcons. This doesn't confirm that the Falcons will appear, but it should be a mere formality unless the franchise has some reason to turn HBO down. The Falcons have made the Playoffs in three out of the last four seasons, but don't offer the off-field intrigue that choices like Denver, the Jets, New Orleans, or possibly even San Francisco would have offered. Schefter's tweet seemingly ends weeks of speculation over who would be featured in this season's Hard Knocks return.
Fox's Adam Schein reported that the Broncos were the first choice and after being rebuffed, HBO then flirted with the Jets who were still kicking around the idea despite Rex Ryan's misgivings about added media attention. Schein's report then tappped two teams as the next wave of targets on the radar.
"If Rex wins the power struggle, HBO has interest in featuring both the Niners and Ravens, focusing on the Harbaugh brothers.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, ranked last in the latest Harris Interactive Poll for league popularity, have told HBO they would love to do the show."
This unleashed a swarm of local beat reporters to beat the bushes to see if their local team was being courted or at very least giving a sexy stare towards HBO in hopes of being HBO's next target. With the Jaguars basically putting it out there that they can be a Situationesque 4am "come over now" drunk dial booty call, HBO evidently passed.
While buzz surrounded the Niners, Ravens, Jaguars, and Jets being linked as possibilities, the Falcons were HBO's choice. It seemed as if HBO was definitely chasing ratings with big personalities and going after Denver and the Jets and even the Harbaugh brothers. It's hard to see that on the Falcons roster. Head Coach Mike Smith is a fiery personality, but QB Matt Ryan doesn't have the pedigree of names like Manning or the celebrity of names like Tebow. That doesn't mean the Falcons don't have an incredibly talented roster, but the storylines therein may not be as sexy to the general public.
Some other teams I was keen on seeing would have been the Lions, Colts, Chargers, Eagles, Saints and Texans although I'm sure some of those teams would prefer to lay low this coming year. As opposed to some of those teams with bigger question marks, we pretty much know who the Falcons are at this point.
At the end of the day Hard Knocks is dependably good television as evidenced with seasons following the Bengals and the Chiefs. As long as someone takes the plunge, I'll be happy as it really extends the excitement of the football season a couple of extra weeks as preseason football really doesn't get the blood flowing. I'm sure as the show progresses, there will be interesting storylines that emerge from Falcons camp.