You guys, if you don’t have HBO, I highly recommend making friends with someone who does before the end of the summer.
No, the new season of Game of Thrones isn’t coming yet. You’re gonna have to wait a little bit longer for that. Yeesh.
I’m talking Hard Knocks.
If you aren’t familiar with the Emmy-nominated show, that needs to change. I can’t think of a better way to suck someone into cheering for a team, or liking the game of football, than this show.
Without further ado, here’s the top 10 reasons, you need to watch this show:
1. The Team – It’s about the Atlanta Falcons this year, who are due to have some terrific story lines after a disappointing 2013 season. The team’s management is acting super excited to have the opportunity to show off their organization. I would be excited too, knowing that each of the last four teams to be featured on Hard Knocks has improved its win-loss record in the regular season that immediately follows the training camp presentation.
2. The Voice – Liev Schreiber narrates the hell out of this series. He has narrated every year since it’s inception in 2001, with the exception of 2007, when Paul Rudd covered the Kansas City Chiefs.
3. The Partnership – Hard Knocks is a joint production between HBO Sports and NFL Films. NFL Films does slow-motion film capture like no one else. Who knew catching a ball could be so dramatic? (If you’re unfamiliar with the legacy of NFL Films, there will be a Snap post coming your way on that at some point in time, so don’t you fret.)
4. The Soundtrack – I remember watching last year and thinking to myself that I wanted to go work out after the episode ended because I was so pumped up from the soundtrack. It was a weird feeling and I got over it pretty quickly, but the show traditionally has some pretty decent music accompanying the football footage.
5. The Rookies – If I were brand new at my job, I definitely would not want a camera crew following me around my first few weeks as I tried to figure out what the heck was going on. NFL rookies do not have that luxury. (Of course, they are getting paid more than I am, so I don’t feel that bad.) It’s neat to watch the new talent. Rookie talent shows and hair cuts are always entertaining.
6. The Underdogs – If you love a good underdog story, you are in luck. There’s usually a few of them each season. When the show starts, there are 90+ guys on the team. As training camp and preseason progress, cuts are made. Go into this knowing that it’s not a happy ending for everyone, but don’t let it keep you from cheering on the journeymen and undrafted free agents who have something to prove.
7. The Big Names – Hard Knocks delves into the personal lives of some of the big name players, which is pretty neat. The NFL has some interesting personalities and you don’t always get to see them during a 3 hour game on any given Sunday.
8. The Locker Room – The NFL locker room is a place most of us won’t ever get to experience. On a serious note, it’s neat to watch the bonds being formed. On a not-so-serious note, the locker room produces some of the most hilarious footage. Although they are grown men, they don’t always act like it.
9. The “Hard Knocks” NFL Rule – Even the NFL realizes the importance of Hard Knocks, as they implemented a rule in fall 2013 that says the league can appoint a team each year if no one volunteers. As reported by Ian Rappoport on NFL.com, all organizations will be eligible with the exception of those that have a first-year head coach; teams that have made the playoffs in at least one of the last two seasons; and teams that have participated in the previous 10 seasons.
10. The Excitement – Like I alluded to earlier, this will definitely get you pumped up for the season. It may also turn you into an Atlanta fan for the year, as I have noticed myself secretly cheering during the season for the players profiled during the show. (Except for the Jets season, I didn’t watch that in its entirety and nothing could get me to like the Jets.)
Hard Knocks debuts tonight, Tuesday, August 5 at 10 p.m. on HBO. Head over to NFL.com Video to see clips from prior years, like this one of Antonio Cromartie trying to remember the names and ages of all his kids. Maybe he just spent too much time out in the sun…