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Peeling back the curtain on the wizardry of 'Hard Knocks'

I'm back to blogging in the basement after spending three of the last four days camping with the Giants and Jets.

Here is the story I wrote for the Friday newspaper about literally parting the curtains in the "Hard Knocks" production headquarters to find the wizard behind the operation - director Steve Trout.

Trout showed me around to the extent that he was allowed, given the secrecy with which HBO and NFL Films treat the stuff they uncover, and given the fact we were deep inside the bunker that houses the Jets' offices and meeting rooms.

The production room itself was huge but seemingly calm, as members of Trout's on-site staff of 25 sifted through massive amounts of footage in preparation to send it all via courier to NFL Films headquarters in suburban Philly.

"For something this massive and this expansive, it’s very, very organized," Trout said.

The only time he got a tad nervous about having me present was when we visited the smaller room where staffers monitor the robotic cameras in offices and meeting rooms.

When Trout and I arrived GM Mike Tannenbaum was on the phone; he preferred that I not hear what was being discussed or with whom.

We came back 20 minutes later; Tannenbaum still was on the phone.

HBO has gotten numerous requests for advance copies of episode one, which is physically impossible given that the show often is still being put together hours before its Wednesday night premiere.

It is difficult to overstate the importance NFL Films puts on the "Hard Knocks" series; the fact the New York media will be watching closely this time only raises the stakes.

"It’s the most-expensive, most-watched, biggest production NFL Films does, and that’s saying a lot," Trout said.

NFL Films president Steve Sabol said this to the New York Post:

‘In all the 40 years of NFL Films history, this will be the most-watched, most-publicized, most-scrutinized, most-critiqued, most-creatively challenging, most-expensively produced series we have ever done.’ If that doesn’t psych you up, then you don’t have a pulse."

New York Sports