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HBO's 'Hard Knocks 3' to debut August 8, follow Kansas City Chiefs

By Christopher Rocchio, 06/12/2007 

After spending the last five years watching from the bench, NFL enthusiasts will once again be able to put on their pads and strap on their helmets before the season even starts.

Hard Knocks, an HBO docu-reality series that gives football fans behind-the-scenes access to the training camp of an NFL team, will return for a third season on Wednesday, August 8 at 9PM ET/PT, HBO Sports and NFL Films announced last week.  The Kansas City Chiefs will serve as the subject of Hard Knocks' third installment, which comes five years after a Summer 2002 edition that followed the Dallas Cowboys and six years after an initial Summer 2001 edition that followed the then-defending Superbowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

"[Hard Knocks is] the most requested HBO sports show that we've ever had," HBO Sports senior vice president Dave Harmon told reporters during a press conference announcing the show's return. "It hasn't been on for a couple of seasons because we haven't found the right mix of teams and situations [but] we feel like we have the right mix right now."

Harmon added that the recent success of De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7, a four-episode docu-reality series that aired on HBO prior to the May 5 fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr., helped aid the decision to bring back Hard Knocks for a third season.

"From an HBO standpoint, we just came off another show very similar to [Hard Knocks], De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7," said Harmon.  "Both fighters were followed the whole way; we had working relationships with both of the fighters, and working relationships with the viewers.   We feel that through the guidance of NFL Films and their being 24/7 with the Kansas City Chiefs, that we’ll have the same thing."

"On behalf of the Hunt Family and the entire Kansas City Chiefs organization, we are extremely pleased to collaborate with HBO and NFL Films on this project," Chiefs team president Carl Peterson commented. "We view this as a tremendous opportunity to showcase our team, the entire Kansas City Chiefs organization and our fans to a national audience."

"NFL Films is the gatekeeper that connects the greatness of the past to our present and future," Peterson told The Topeka Capital-Journal.  "They understand our game."

Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Kansas City Chiefs will be produced by HBO in association with NFL Films and is the creation of NFL Films president Steve Sabol.

The Chiefs five-week training camp for the 2007 NFL season -- which begins Friday, July 27 -- will be held in River Falls, WI and a 24-person NFL Films crew will be there to shoot all of the action for Hard Knocks' third season.

"On HBO there is no language barrier and that was a first for the NFL," Sabol told reporters, according to The Capital-Journal.  "I was a little concerned about that when the first couple of f-bombs came flying over the air [during Hard Knocks' season] and I was expecting a call from the commissioner [but] the first call came from [late Chiefs owner] Lamar Hunt, and I thought, 'Oh-oh.' But Lamar said he enjoyed it because it expanded the fans knowledge of the game. Right then, the Chiefs went on my list as a team I wanted in this show.... We still have a quota of F-bombs, though. I expect we'll use them up the first day we spend with [Chiefs defensive coordinator] Gunther Cunningham."

However the relationship between the Chiefs and NFL Films goes beyond Hard Knocks, as former Chiefs' coach Hank Stram became the first to wear a microphone during the Super Bowl when he did so in 1970, according to The Capital-Journal.  Sabol said those techniques used more than 37-years-ago are still similar to the ones utilized for Hard Knocks to provide fans unfettered access.

"We place lipstick cameras, not much bigger than this pen, in rooms throughout the whole camp," Sabol told reporters, according to The Capital-Journal.  "It's almost like using surveillance cameras with mikes placed around a room. A lot of what you see is from those cameras, and that's what gives it an authentic feel. The behind-the-scenes stuff is what the fans really want to see."

Because parity currently exists among the teams competing in the NFL, fans never know what the outcome of a game will be on any given Sunday.  Sabol said that same uncertainty surrounds Hard Knocks.

"That's what makes this project so exciting to a film maker," he told The Capital-Journal.  "There is no script, no format. I have no idea what the hell will happen when our four film crews start rolling. We'll shoot 20 hours of high definition tape every day. It's up to us to shape it into a good story. There will be things the team may not like, but if we think it's important, we'll try to convince them to come to our side."

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