The Atlanta Falcons announced last month that they'll be featured on HBO's award-winning documentary series, Hard Knocks, teaming with HBO Sports and NFL Films to allow the world an all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League.
The sports-based reality series kicks off its ninth season, presented in HD on Tuesday, Aug. 5 (10 p.m. ET), exclusively on HBO. Subsequent hour-long episodes will air on Tuesdays at the same time, with an encore replay delivered every Wednesday in August at 11:00 p.m., culminating in the Sept. 2 season finale.
Before the behind-the-scenes coverage begins, Falcons fans can be assured of the following five things:
1. Arthur Blank's Motive: Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank has always been about the fans, since acquiring the club in 2001. His mission to bring Falcons fans closer to the team and the game of professional football is further exemplified by agreeing to be a part of the Hard Knocks series.
"We're anxious and looking forward to creating a series that will strengthen the bond between our Atlanta Falcons fans, the NFL fans across the country, and everything that we're trying to do here in Atlanta and what the NFL is trying to do across all 32 franchises," Blank said.
2. Robotic Cameras and Logistics: If you've always wondered what actually takes place in NFL position-group meetings, HBO Sports and NFL Films will once again offer fans the privilege, taking you right into the rooms for unprecedented access.
A 30-person NFL Films crew will completely cover training camp at team headquarters in Flowery Branch, Ga., shooting more than 1,500 hours of video, over the course of the five-week series. During each practice, up to 12 players or coaches will be mic'd up, giving fans an up-close account of the on and off-the-field conversations that take place. Ken Rogers, Supervising Producer for NFL Films, says robotic cameras will be set up in offices, throughout the facility, allowing crews to cut down on 'foot traffic' and 'stay out of the way' of the coaches and players.
3. Upon Further Review:HBO Sports and NFL Films are aware of the privilege they have in being provided with such unbelievable access, during the five weeks of filming. They promise to never 'step on the toes' of the players, coaches and personnel staff members, risking anything that could benefit the Falcons opponents.
"Coach Smith will be able to view the show on Tuesday mornings, before it airs, for competitive balance reasons," said Ken Rogers. "We certainly, at NFL Films, are very cognizant of not tipping competitive balance, one way or the other. Sometimes, there are phrases used that we're not aware are a part of the play-call structure. So, coach will be watching the show to make sure that we don't overstep our bounds and give away anything that could hurt his team, because that's the last thing that we want to do."
Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith explained why he and the Falcons staff are confident in the HBO Sports and NFL Films teams.
"NFL Films has always done a great job documenting the game of football," Smith said. "It's something I'm very comfortable with and we're very comfortable with as an organization. NFL Films is a partner of the National Football League and HBO has been a long-standing partner as well, so, we'll just watch the episode and look for the things that would be a competitive disadvantage for us; that's the one thing that we don't want to have happen and we are very confident that it won't."
4. Falcons Are "All In":Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff is excited for the Falcons fans around the world to get a chance to see the high-quality, high-character coaches and players, who make up the team.
"We've made a concerted effort to put together a locker room that we're proud of, not only handling themselves on the field properly, but in the community; we're very proud of that for Arthur Blank and the rest of the businesses," Dimitroff said. "We think we have a lot of personality on this team. I think our guys will put on a very good product and I'm excited about being a part of this, like coach Smith and Mr. Blank. We're all in on this and we think we can be one of the best productions yet."
5. Distractions? Falcons Players Think Not: If there is any doubt by Falcons fans that players may be distracted, during the Hard Knocks filming, Falcons S Dwight Lowery offered strong reassurance that it won't be an issue.
"If a player is distracted by a few crews on the sideline of practice, he certainly won't be able to handle fourth and one in the final minutes of a playoff game with 70,000 people screaming," Lowery said. "The increased attention has traditionally meant a greater focus and not less."
Food for Thought: HBO noted that each of the last four teams to be featured on Hard Knocks has improved its win-loss record in the regular season that immediately follows the training camp presentation.
MORE HARD KNOCKS: Seven Things to Watch For on 'Hard Knocks'