Two years ago, the NFL wanted the Falcons to be the subject of HBO’s Hard Knocks. The Falcons passed.
This year, the Falcons could have passed again. They didn’t.
The decision to relent to persistent pressure from the league office comes at a time when it’s unclear whether 2013 was an aberration or the start of a trend. The folks running the organizatio may be feeling an extra sense of urgency to have a big year.
For coach Mike Smith (pictured), it’s old hat. He worked for the Ravens in 2001, when they submitted to the first season of the show. Three years later, Smith worked for the Jaguars when the league produced a Hard Knocks-style training camp series for NFLN.
There will be plenty of story lines in Atlanta, especially with the Falcons quietly switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense and hoping to improve an offensive line that struggled at times (or more often) and trying to get receiver Julio Jones healthy and possibly regretting the decision to give quarterback Matt Ryan a monster contract in 2013.
In addition to dealing with the potential for distraction and embarrassment, the Falcons will be the latest team to give the general public a front-row seat for the process of terminating the employment of multiple workers. Even though Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league would like to make the process of cutting players more humane, that aspect of Hard Knocks surely won’t land on the cutting-room floor.
It possibly happens largely because most of the people who decide what is and isn’t compelling can’t relate to the realities of being fired. Or because they don’t care.
“That’s not their kid getting cut, that’s not their husband getting cut, that’s not their friend getting cut,” a league insider has said regarding the topic.
Inevitably, it will be someone’s kid, husband, and/or friend being fired. Multiple times. And it will happen within the context of a football organization that could be handing out a lot more pink slips if things don’t turn around quickly.