A couple weeks ago we told you HBO had finally come to a decision about the team they wanted to appear on the successful Hard Knocks series. That choice was the Atlanta Falcons, who in spite of 3 playoff apperaances in 4 years, were a less than inspiring selection to the wide majority of those of you who responded to the news via Twitter and Facebook. At that point, it seemed like a mere formality until the decision was made official.
Now, it won't be made official as the Falcons turned down HBO and the starring role on Hard Knocks according to NFL Network's Albert Breer on the weekend.
Falcons have officially turned down HBO for Hard Knocks. Orginizational call made by Blank, Dimitroff and Smith. Wanted focus on football.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 21, 2012
The Falcons organization isn't one that necessarily goes out and seeks publicity like others around the league, so maybe the decision isn't a massive upset. Still though, it's not like Hard Knocks has been the source of major distractions in the past. That now makes it three teams - Denver, the Jets, and Atlanta, that have all turned down HBO this offseason already.
The loss of the Atlanta Falcons as Hard Knocks stars isn't a major blow to the series, although it's not looking good that so many teams are publicly turning down the show. There just weren't that many interesting stories this offseason in Atlanta unless you consider the signing of Lofa Tatupu must see television. Really, Atlanta has had one of the quietest offseasons in the league. Can you tell me one time you've heard the name "Atlanta Falcons" this offseason, aside from their starting middle linebacker Curtis Lofton being the heir apparent to Jonathan Vilma in New Orleans? There's only so many times the HBO cameras are going to be able to ask Matt Ryan about his "Matty Ice" moniker, Mike Smith about going for it on 4th down from his own 30, and Arthur Blank on his favorite Vincent Price movies. It's a true blessing in disguise.
So where does HBO turn to now? The idea of Harbaugh 2 Harbaugh has been floated out with the Ravens & 49ers taking on dual starring roles, so perhaps HBO goes in that direction for the show. The Ravens were the first team to partake in Hard Knocks in 2001 so the franchise has experience. And let's face it, Jim Harbaugh has never met a camera he didn't like. In addition to Baltimore, Dallas (twice), Cincinnati and Kansas City have all taken turns in the spotlight and could be asked to return.
With the most compelling choices either already declining an invite (Denver/NYJ) or having no real possibility of saying yes (New Orleans), HBO appears to be back at square one. There are still plenty of great choices for the network though. The Colts and Redskins would be entertaining with Andrew Luck and RGIII. The Texans and Lions could be profiled as young teams on the cusp of becoming elite. We could finally get insights in San Diego as to how Norv Turner keeps his job year after year. And, there's still time for HBO to come to an agreement with a team before training camp rolls around.
And then, if worse comes to worse... there's always the Jaguars.