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The Dallas Cowboys are back on HBO. The network announced Friday that the club will be making its third appearance on the Hard Knocks series that follows one NFL team through training camp and preseason each summer.
The first episode will debut on Tuesday, August 10th and run for five episodes, the finale airing September 7th, just prior to the kickoff of the 2021 regular season.
This will mark the third time the Cowboys have been the stars of the Emmy-winning series; they previously appeared in 2002 and 2008. They are the only team to be chosen for the show a third time.
“Tens of millions of fans love them, but just as many people love to hate them,” according to a statement from Ken Rodgers, vice president and senior coordinating producer at NFL Films, who assembles footage used in the series. “Either way, when the Cowboys show up people watch, which makes them perfect for Hard Knocks. This year, their high-profile status as ‘America’s Team’ is paired with uniquely interesting storylines.”
Just some of those storylines will include Dak Prescott returning to his starting quarterback role after last year’s gruesome ankle injury and a momentous offseason that has included earning a huge long-term contract from the team as well as a lucrative partnership with Nike.
The supposed revamping of Dallas’s historically bad defense under new coordinator Dan Quinn will also be a major plot point, as will whether running back Ezekiel Elliott can reclaim his reputation as one of the league’s premier rushers.
High-profile rookie linebacker Micah Parsons is sure to be a big-time character, with viewers watching to see how he fits in with A-listers (but potential short-timers) Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Second-year wideout phenom CeeDee Lamb will also get star treatment.
The series also tends to find a handful of lesser-known players who become fan favorites as they fight to stay on the roster through a series of cuts. Two-time Super Bowl champion wide receiver Danny Amendola was first introduced to NFL fans as an undrafted free agent during the Cowboys’ 2008 Hard Knocks run. He was a late-camp cut, but remained with the Dallas practice squad for the remainder of the season before beginning a journeyman career with five other teams.
Head coach Mike McCarthy will no doubt get significant airtime this season, too, as he embarks on his first “normal” training camp” after last year’s- his first with the team- was turned into a virtual affair thanks to COVID-19.
Not that the all-access presence of a 30-person camera crew and live microphones everywhere will help this year’s trip to Oxnard seem normal for the Cowboys.
“What better way to rebound from America’s tough 2020? America had a tough 2020,” Rodgers said. “America’s game had a tough 2020, and ‘America’s Team’ had a tough 2020, so it only feels right that we feature the Cowboys, who are representative of all us in trying to make a better 2021.”
This will be the 20th season for Hard Knocks. Award-winning actor Liev Schrieber will return as narrator.