HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ to feature Cowboys for third time

For the third time in the show’s history, HBO’s “Hard Knocks” NFL training camp documentary series will feature the Dallas Cowboys. 

The NFL Films and HBO joint production typically films one NFL team through training camp, which for the Cowboys is in California. The Cowboys previously appeared on the show in 2002 and 2008. They will be the first team to be featured on “Hard Knocks” three times. 

The Cowboys were one of five teams that could’ve been forced to appear on “Hard Knocks” under rules established in 2014. Teams can opt out of appearing on the show under certain conditions:

  • If they have a first-year head coach. 
  • If they have made the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons.
  • If they have appeared on the show in the previous 10 seasons. 

The Cowboys played most of the 2020 campaign without star quarterback Dak Prescott, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury that required surgery. Dallas finished 6-10 in its first season with Mike McCarthy as head coach and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2018. 

Prescott’s return from injury is bound to be a central “Hard Knocks” storyline, as is the team’s defense, which was a nightmare in 2020.

The last time the Cowboys were on the show in 2008, they went 9-7. In 2002, they went 5-11. Dallas missed the playoffs in both seasons. Only six of 16 teams featured on “Hard Knocks” have made the playoffs in the season of appearance on the show: the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, 2009 and 2013 Cincinnati Bengals, 2010 New York Jets, 2015 Houston Texans and 2020 Los Angeles Rams. 

The Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and Carolina Panthers were also candidates to be on the show this season. 

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