And the 'Hard Knocks' team this year will be ... the Atlanta Falcons

And the 'Hard Knocks' team this year will be ... the Atlanta Falcons
And the 'Hard Knocks' team this year will be ... the Atlanta Falcons

HBO got a volunteer for "Hard Knocks," after all.

The Atlanta Falcons, who were exempted from being chosen if the NFL didn't find any volunteers because they had a playoff appearance over the last two seasons, stepped forward and will be the subject of the popular training camp reality show this summer. The eight teams who were not exempt and could have been chosen if nobody volunteered are probably thankful for the Falcons.

The Falcons are an interesting choice. Now that Tony Gonzalez is gone, they have a lot of very good players who aren't in the spotlight a ton. Quarterback Matt Ryan is a bit under the radar as far as star quarterbacks go, Julio Jones and Roddy White are top receivers who don't draw a ton of attention to themselves on the field (the same doesn't apply for Roddy's lively Twitter feed), running back Steven Jackson has played in obscurity most of his career, and Mike Smith is a good coach nobody seems to know a ton about.

It's not "Johnny Football," but it should be an interesting show. The first Falcons episode is Aug. 5.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, although the spotlight is very rarely on his team. Maybe that's one reason the team wanted the show, when many other organizations have been against it. The Falcons turned it down in 2012, according to It is a bit of a hassle, having cameras in meeting rooms and everywhere in practice, but it's also great exposure and good for the game. The Falcons said in 2012 that they wanted the focus to be on football, but the coaching staff, front office and the nucleus of the roster has been in place a while, so the franchise should be well equipped to handle it, even after a 4-12 season.

Even though Atlanta has been one of the NFL's hot teams since 2008, making the playoffs four times, getting the extra exposure from HBO's show will help us get to know the Falcons a bit better than we do already.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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