Hard Knocks press conference reveals underlying goals

Photo by Craig Sager II

The Falcons and their remaining offseason preparation for the 2014 season will star in this year’s edition of HBO’s hit series Hard Knocks. Arthur Blank, Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff, HBO President Ken Hershman and NFL Films Supervising Producer Ken Rodgers held a press conference on Thursday in the Falcons’ team meeting room, detailing the show and what the network, team and fans will get out of it.

The series consists of five episodes that will air each Tuesday on HBO, beginning Aug. 5. Arthur Blank opened the conference with his five reasons for making the decision bring the show to Atlanta.

The Falcons volunteered to be on the show and the reasoning for volunteering was Blank’s first point of emphasis.

“Before the NFL goes to the required list of teams that would be asked to do this, NFL Films, HBO, the league asks for teams that are anxious and willing to do it,” explained Blank. “We understand the importance of Hard Knocks. We believed that you are in a better position in life when you can control them rather than somebody else controlling them for you. So we want to put this on our own timetable. “

Blank’s next point for opening training camp for the world to see was the fans. Blank explained the importance of the fans being able to be apart of the preparation and hard work leading up to the season.

“Without the fans, we’re just 22 guys on the field playing semi-pro football,” said Blank.

Blank addressed the show being referred to as a distraction in his next point by referring to the team’s ability to stay focused and handle the media over the years.

“We believe we have an elite franchise in the National Football League,” said Blank. “We believe we have a great story to tell and we want to share that with the fans.”

Blank added a quote in his opening statement from newly signed free safety Dwight Lowery, who was on the New York Jets in 2010 when Hard Knocks followed their training camp.

“If a player is distracted by a few crews on the sideline during practice, he certainly won’t be able to handle 4th and 1 in a playoff game with 70,000 people screaming. The increased attention has traditionally been met with greater focus and not less.”

HBO has been working with NFL Films since 1977 and NFL Films has been filming training camps since 1967. Hershman explained that the show has continued to get better and better and remains a fan favorite each year.

“It is never a great play of the field that sticks out to me each season,” said Hershman. “There is so much attention of the plays and the athleticism of these guys. Hard Knocks is all about relationships. How they evolve between the players and coaches and the players themselves. The families are also involved. It’s about success, it’s about failure, it’s about human drama and emotion and it’s story telling really at its finest. I think that is what is so captivating about the show. Whether you are an Atlanta Falcons fan or an NFL fan or just a fan of human drama, there is no better show on television.”

From a technical standpoint, Rodgers explained that anywhere from 12 microphones will go on coaches and players each practice and typically a fiveman crew films. Within the facility cameras are all set up ahead of time so film sessions and meetings are not interrupted.

The Falcons hope to get a lot out of this experience and Blank touched on the ultimate goal everyone involved with the decision to bring Hard Knocks to Atlanta is aiming for.

“Our goal is looking back, we’re going to feel, NFL Films is going to feel, HBO is going to feel, the fans are going to feel that this is the best version of Hard Knocks ever.”



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