Source: Falcons decline TV show

Updated: April 22, 2012, 10:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons have declined the opportunity to appear on the HBO reality television series "Hard Knocks," a league source told ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas.

The source said the Falcons had extensive discussions at every level of the organization about appearing on the show, but eventually decided they wanted their focus for the 2012 season to be exclusively on the football field.

With the Falcons out of the picture, HBO could look again at the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars, who have both shown previous interest in appearing on the show that chronicles a team's journey through training camp and the preseason.

A league source told ESPN that the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are also being looked at as options for this season's version of "Hard Knocks."

The Jets were featured on the show in 2010, drawing huge ratings and increasing their national profile. Team owner Woody Johnson has said the exposure was of "tremendous value" to the franchise.

With the recent attention-grabbing trade for Tim Tebow, and the locker-room turmoil that has dominated offseason headlines, the Jets seemed like a logical option. Johnson also intimated in early April that there have been informal talks with HBO, but he declined to speculate on an outcome because "we can't react to anything unless it's a real invitation."

A person familiar with the Jets' situation confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that the organization had not received an official offer from HBO as of April 11.

But Johnson said they'd give it strong consideration, saying he'd discuss it with general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan didn't seem excited about the prospect when asked about it at the recent league meetings, and Tannenbaum, in an interview last month on SiriusXM NFL Radio, made it clear he had no interest before backtracking shortly after Johnson's expressed his interest publicly.

The Jaguars have historically struggled to sell tickets and market the team in the Jacksonville area, and an appearance on "Hard Knocks" could jump-start their fan base.

Jacksonville hired former Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey as coach and spent heavily this offseason. The club gave a big-money deal to free-agent receiver Laurent Robinson, signed cornerback Aaron Ross and brought in veteran quarterback Chad Henne to compete with 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert.

New owner Shad Khan and the team's front office recently also tried to deal for Tebow when Denver decided to part ways with the Jacksonville native. Tebow, who starred collegiately at the nearby University of Florida, told the Broncos that he would prefer the Jets over the Jaguars due to a familiarity with New York's coaching staff.

Khan purchased the team last season from previous owner Wayne Weaver and said he plans to keep the team in Jacksonville.

After a 13-3 record and NFC South title in 2010, the Falcons went 10-6 in 2011 and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants 24-2 in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite boasting former Pro Bowlers Matt Ryan at quarterback, Michael Turner at running back and Roddy White at receiver, the Falcons regressed on offense in 2011. The struggles followed a headline-grabbing draft-day trade in which Atlanta moved up to the No. 6 overall pick to select former Alabama receiver Julio Jones.

Information from ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas and ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.

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