‘Hard Knocks’ life: Cowboys featured for 3rd time

The Dallas Cowboys will become the first NFL team to be featured for the third time on “Hard Knocks” in the show’s 20th anniversary season, it was announced Friday.

HBO and NFL Films announced Friday that the five-episode season will debut on Aug. 10 at 10 p.m. ET.

“America, America’s game and America’s Team had a tough 2020. I feel like this is a perfect happenstance of football, the Cowboys and hopefully the country,” said NFL Films’ Ken Rodgers, the show’s senior coordinating producer. “I’m sure the Cowboys want to put their difficult season behind them more than anyone.”

The Cowboys were also featured on the training camp documentary series in 2002 and 2008.

Dallas went 6-10 last season in Mike McCarthy’s first year as coach. Quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a dislocated right ankle and compound fracture that forced him to miss the final 11 games.

Prescott’s return from injury will be one of the storylines to watch, as well as how McCarthy can rally a team to believe in him and his staff.

The show is also likely to feature running back Ezekiel Elliott along with wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb. On defense, first-year coordinator Dan Quinn tries to mold a group that includes defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and linebackers Jaylon Smith and Micah Parsons, who was picked in the first round in April’s draft.

This will mark the first time that the series has its first episode air after a team has played a preseason game. The Cowboys play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5.

The trip to Canton will also be special for everyone associated with NFL Films because Steve Sabol was recently enshrined posthumously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The longtime NFL Films president, who died in 2012, is part of the third father-son duo in the Hall; his father, Ed, was inducted in 2011. “Hard Knocks” was a Sabol brainchild and remains as relative today as it was when it started.

“He loved what this show represents because it shows how our business and company could change and adapt,” Rodgers said. “So many people had seen NFL Films for what he had created in the 1970s – the slow motion, ball in the air, wired for sound and orchestral music style. What ‘Hard Knocks’ proved more than any other program, maybe in our history, is that we are not one type of filmmaking company. We are filmmakers that can adapt to any style, any format and on any network.”

This will be the 16th season for the show, which started in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens. HBO and NFL Films have an agreement to continue the series through 2024. Last year featured two teams for the first time when the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers shared equal billing.

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