'Hard Knocks' settle on Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons will be this year’s students at HBO’s school of Hard Knocks. Fans will be invited inside the huddle and pre-season training camp of the Falcons, who were only 4-12 last season but are only two years removed from the NFC Championship game. The five-episode run, the ninth season for the popular HBO series, begins Aug. 5. Last year’s show, which chronicled the Cincinnati Bengals, averaged 3.6 million viewers per episode.
“We’re excited to work with the Atlanta Falcons and HBO Sports on Hard Knocks,” said Howard Katz, COO of NFL Films and NFL senior vice president of broadcasting. “The Falcons present numerous storylines with a veteran coaching staff, star players and newcomers all coming together to attempt to rise up back to the top of the NFC.”
The Falcons have a star quarterback — Matt Ryan — and a coach who might find himself on the hot-seat if the team doesn’t rebound. But HBO originally had its sights set on the Cleveland Browns, who drafted high-profile Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. That franchise, which also features a new coach, passed on the opportunity. “It was for the same reason we didn’t feel super comfortable having a camera in the draft room,” said Browns rookie coach Mike Pettine. “Let’s get through the first time, let’s get through the first year … There are positives and negatives to doing it.”