FACT: A team that's been featured on "Hard Knocks" has never won the Super Bowl that season.
FACT: 31 teams fail to win the Super Bowl every season.
The hysteria around the potential effects of "Hard Knocks" have mutated into a trans-fat scare with Y2K hyteria for fans terrified of ambiguous threats (in this case, the "distractions" boogeyman) in the modern NFL. Rex Ryan is not HBO, although the pair can be defined by a mutual admiration for prosaic swearing and fetish documentaries. "Hard Knocks" has been around for a decade, sans last season's lockout-shortened training camps.
In that decade, stable franchises - the Baltimore Ravens under Brian Billick - haven't suffered from HBO's presence, mediocre-but-promising teams - the Chiefs under Herm Edwards - haven't dissolved under the weight national attention and even discipline deficient or circus sideshows - Marvin Lewis' Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys (always), respectively - haven't been hurt by the cameras.
When the Jets were profiled by HBO, they were between playoff runs. Only at the end last season, a full 15 months after Ryan f-bombed his way into the hearts of "True Blood" viewers, did New York run aground, and it had nothing to do with a four-hour documentary about training camp shot over a year prior.
"Hard Knocks" is no more a distraction than any of the other overproduced, wall-to-wall NFL "events" in the no off-season mantra of the League. The Falcons, with the right handling, could come off as emerging stars set to finally break out, rather than a rehabilitating punchline from years of Vick, Petrino and Mora past.
It's just TV. Right?