- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Atlanta Falcons aren’t the only team that will have to be comfortable with an inordinate amount of cameras at training camp.
Part of the process of HBO’s "Hard Knocks" trailing the Falcons includes a trip to Houston, where the Falcons and Texans will hold a pair of joint practices (Aug. 13-14) leading up to their Aug. 16 preseason matchup.
The film crew won’t travel on the plane with the Falcons, but it will be inside Houston Methodist Training Center for the Falcons’ arrival.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff thoroughly discussed the matter with the Texans.
"I’ve talked to the general manager, Rick Smith, and Smitty [Mike Smith] has talked to Coach [Bill] O’Brien, and they are comfortable with it," Dimitroff said. "[Hard Knocks] will not be showcasing the other team that we will be visiting. They’ll continue to focus on our team."
Dimitroff reiterated how the Falcons are totally behind the decision to be a part of "Hard Knocks" this season. It was far from a mandate from team owner Arthur Blank. In fact, the Falcons wouldn’t have accepted the invitation had Smith not signed off on it.
HBO approached the Falcons about "Hard Knocks" four of the past five years.
"This was not a brand play, period," Dimitroff said. "We think the series will give the fans that in-depth look; the idea of being able to see what the Atlanta Falcons are truly about and how we run our organization and how we’re mindful and professional about how we carry on our business."
Smith and Dimitroff had a two-and-a-half hour meeting with the folks from "Hard Knocks" and weighed all the pros and cons.
"This was a collaborative organizational decision," Dimitroff said. "This was made with the input of several people: the owner, the president, the general manager, the head coach, our entire communications team. We did a lot of work and a lot research on this.
"Myself and Smitty spent a lot of time with the 'Hard Knocks' crew. We asked a lot of questions and ran a lot of different scenarios by them. And we felt very comfortable after our meeting with them."
Skeptics wonder if "Hard Knocks" will be a needless distraction for a team coming off a 4-12 season. And taking on such an endeavor seems to counter Smith’s conservative approach.
"At the end of the day, the simple fact is Arthur mentioned to Smitty that he ultimately had to be comfortable with this decision as the head coach of this football team," Dimitroff said. "If Smitty wasn’t comfortable with any aspect of this, we would have moved on from the decision. Smitty was comfortable, and we decided to go through with it."
Smith addressed the decision to be on "Hard Knocks" through a statement released by the team.
"We are looking forward to connecting with our fans across the country as the program chronicles our 2014 training camp," Smith said. "The series will give fans a behind the scenes look at the competition between players as we build our roster and prepare for the season. We are looking forward to the start of camp in late July."
HBO debuts "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Falcons" on Aug. 5.