Falcons to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

matt-ryan-julio-jonesThe Atlanta Falcons announced on Thursday that they will be featured on the 2014 edition of “Hard Knocks.”

The Cleveland Browns were believed to be one of the favorites for the HBO original series after drafting Johnny Manziel, but head coach Mike Pettine turned down the chance to appear on the show. First-year coaches cannot be forced to do “Hard Knocks.”

Perhaps the most surprising part about the Falcons’ announcement is that they reportedly volunteered for the show, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Most teams feel that “Hard Knocks” can be a distraction during training camp, and the Falcons had an out from the show since they made the playoffs two seasons ago.

While the Falcons don’t have a whole lot of issues with their roster, they were surprisingly one of the worst team’s in the league last year with a 4-12 record. Atlanta finished 13-3 in 2012, so it will be interesting to see how they progress through training camp in an attempt to get back to being the team they were two years ago.

We’ll also get to see what type of progress Julio Jones is making, as he should be returning soon from a foot injury that forced him to miss most of the 2013 season.

There could certainly be less intriguing teams for “Hard Knocks.” The Falcons should be fun to watch.

James Harrison flips the bird to ‘Hard Knocks’ cameras

The first episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals” debuted on Tuesday, and one thing stood out immediately: James Harrison is not a fan of the show. Rather, Harrison is not a fan of having a camera follow him around to record everything he does while he’s busy working.

See, Harrison played his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a traditional organization that would never have the type of nonsense and distraction that comes with turning your football team into a reality TV show. It’s obvious he still holds that mentality, because nobody treated the “Hard Knocks” cameramen with more disdain than him.

Each time Harrison was shown on camera — whether it was doing media interviews or participating in team meetings — he turned his back to the camera. He even went out of his way to flip the bird to the camera.

One time, he walked straight up to the camera recording the team in a meeting room and put up his middle finger (seen below):

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Cincinnati Bengals reportedly will be on ‘Hard Knocks’ again

Hard Knocks Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals will be featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” training camp TV program this season, according to a few reports.

Paul Domowitch of the Philly Daily News first reported that the Bengals would be the featured team, but he later deleted his tweet. Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer says he confirmed through league sources that the Bengals will be featured again. Reedy expects an official announcement to come sometime in the next few weeks.

The Bengals were featured on “Hard Knocks” in 2009 and would be the second team to be featured more than once (the Dallas Cowboys are the other). This will be head coach Marvin Lewis’ third time being involved with the show. He was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens when they were featured in the premier season of the show in 2001.

Reedy says the Bengals had been approached about doing the show again in recent years, but Lewis was not too interested. Apparently he feels more comfortable this time.

Though the Bengals do not have as many troublemakers on the squad as they once did, they still have Pacman Jones, who recently was charged with assaulting a woman at a bar. Maybe HBO is hoping they can strike some more TV gold like last season when Chad Johnson’s arrest and release by the Miami Dolphins was featured on the show.

J.J. Watt says he picked up Dolphins’ snap count from watching ‘Hard Knocks’

HBO had a difficult time finding a team willing to participate in its training camp reality TV show “Hard Knocks” this year, and now we know why: the show can put the team at a competitive disadvantage.

Houston Texans second-year defensive end J.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks in his team’s 30-10 win over the Dolphins on Sunday, and he says he picked up some helpful tidbits from the show.

“You can’t really pick up too much from watching that show, but I got their snap count,” Watt told Erik Kuselias during an interview on “Pro Football Talk.” “It’s something you can really pick up (from) just about any TV copy. But I watched that, and that’s one thing I picked up. I used that a little bit.”

Watt seemed to be making a conscious effort to avoid divulging too much or making it seem like the reality show provided too much assistance.

“Once the game gets going, you pick it up anyways, so it wasn’t a huge advantage, but any little thing can help,” he told Kuselias.

Much like Rangers rookie Jurickson Profar, Watt may have been better off keeping his secret to himself. Thanks to his revelation, teams may be even more reluctant to appear on the show.

This could be bad news for HBO, and fans who enjoy watching the program.

Below is video of Watt’s interview with “Pro Football Talk”:

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Anthony Fasano says Dolphins players are unhappy about ‘Hard Knocks’

Since the show first began more than 10 years ago, it seems that HBO has an increasingly difficult time finding a suitor for “Hard Knocks” each NFL season. No matter how you look at it, “Hard Knocks” is a distraction. It brings people and cameras inside your offseason training facilities that don’t need to be there. It exploits people like Antonio Cromartie and makes them look like morons. For those reasons and more, Anthony Fasano says several Dolphins players are not thrilled to be the stars of this year’s show.

“I wasn’t too thrilled to tell you the truth,” Fasano told Bob Papa and Ross Tucker of SiriusXM NFL Radio according to Pro Football Talk. “I think we were informed at a team meeting and there were a lot of groans when it was announced. But we’re going to have to deal with it and try not to let it be a distraction.

“I don’t know what kind of advantage it gives us as a football team having the show in there, and creating storylines that might not be storylines for the television show. I don’t know if it is totally accurate in some situations, that I’ve heard in the past. But just looking at it from a football standpoint and having camp be a time for our team to get ready for a season that we’re going to try to make a run at the playoffs, I don’t know how much that’s helping our team.”

Fasano did say that it will be fun for the fans to get a behind-the-scenes look into the Dolphins training camp, but it’s hard to disagree with him. Joe Philbin referred to it as a “football decision,” but we all know it’s a marketing decision. The Dolphins aren’t exactly the Steelers when it comes to selling tickets and personal seat licenses. If they can drum up the type of buzz the Jets generated two years ago, it can only help their franchise in terms of popularity.

Photo credit: Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

On second thought, the Jets won’t be doing ‘Hard Knocks’ again this year

On Thursday, we shared a report with you from the NY Daily News that claimed the Jets were still among a handful of teams being considered for the 2012 edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” Given the fact that the Jets made for great television two years ago and have now added Tim Tebow to the mix, you would be hard pressed to find a better team to feature on the show this season. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen.

According to the NY Daily News — yes, them again — the Jets are not in the running. An HBO spokesman would not comment on whether or not New York has officially been ruled out, but the NY Daily News cited “TV sources” who say it is no longer in the cards. Our question is how did this happen so quickly?

The most recent NY Daily News report says that there was “speculation that considering the multiple story lines the Jets will have going into training camp, Tebow’s arrival among them, they were the front-runner to star.” Does that mean they just assumed Gang Green was a finalist because the cast they have would make for great entertainment?

From the look of it, the NY Daily News played the media. One day they say the Jets are in the running and the very next day they’re out of it, both times without confirmation from anyone from HBO. If they were looking to create a short-lived buzz, they accomplished their goal.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

Jets reportedly still in consideration for HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’

If you thought the Jets made for great television when they were featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in 2010, you would probably love them even more this year. With the Falcons having turned down the series and HBO still searching for a cast, the NY Daily News is reporting that the Jets are one of a handful of teams that remain in consideration.

Jets owner Woody Johnson is all for the idea, but Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum are hesitant to appear on the show again given the significant locker room issues the Jets had last season. Based on some of the things we have heard from the players about what went on behind closed doors last year, it might not be a good idea to let the outside world in.

If the Jets did agree, HBO would want to begin preparations at the end of the month. The show would film during Jets mini camp from June 12-14.

One thing’s for sure: this edition of the Jets would make for great television. With the addition of Tim Tebow and a quarterback situation that nobody has a full grasp of, plenty of fans would tune in. Mix that with a little of Rex’s foul mouth and some incredibly dumb moments by Antonio Cromartie and you’ve got yourself one of the most highly-rated HBO programs of all-time.

Photo credit: The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE