There are certain announcements we wait for every year and which team is under scrutiny from HARD KNOCKS is one of them. We were especially waiting for the announcement this year because it is the 20th anniversary of the series and there was hope for something big and because some of us are eager for football after these trying times. The announcement has now been made and the famed Dallas Cowboys from the Lone Star State get the honors. Over two decades the Cowboys have appeared twice before, in 2002 and 2008. This third appearance marks the 16th season of the sports series.
We leave all the details to an official press release –
HBO Sports and NFL Films are partnering with “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys, for an unfiltered all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League in HARD KNOCKS: THE DALLAS COWBOYS. This season’s five-episode series highlights the five-time Super Bowl champion NFC East franchise and debuts TUESDAY, AUGUST 10 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET). Other hour-long episodes of the first sports-based reality series – and one of the fastest-turnaround programs on TV – debut subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, culminating in the September 7 season finale.
HARD KNOCKS will have encore plays Wednesday nights and will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.
HARD KNOCKS: THE DALLAS COWBOYS will mark the 16th edition of the 18-time Sports Emmy® Award-winning series and the most acclaimed serialized sports series on television.
“We are delighted that Hard Knocks will be returning this summer and excited for our return to the NFC East and the Dallas Cowboys franchise,” says Jonathan Crystal, Vice President, HBO Sports. “We are grateful to this franchise for opening up its doors and allowing HBO and NFL Films to spend the summer with the Cowboys in what promises to be a compelling and engaging training camp.”
Camera crews will head to the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard, California in the next few weeks to begin filming, with the action heating up in August when the cinema verité show focuses on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches. This season of HARD KNOCKS marks the Cowboys’ third time on the show having previously been featured in 2002 and 2008. Additionally, Dallas was highlighted on the third season of Amazon Prime Video’s Emmy Award-winning series All or Nothing in 2018 which chronicled the Cowboys’ 2017 season.
“The Cowboys are one of the most storied franchises in NFL history and a team that elicits strong reactions from fans around the world,” said Ken Rodgers, Vice President, Senior Coordinating Producer at NFL Films. “Tens of millions of fans love them, but just as many people love to hate them. 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. We can’t thank Mr. Jones and Coach McCarthy enough for letting us tell the story behind what we hope is the beginning of an exciting year in Dallas.”
The Cowboys enter the 2021 NFL season looking to improve upon last year’s third-place finish in the NFC East. In the second year under head coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys look forward to having franchise quarterback Dak Prescott back under center to lead Dallas’ high-powered offense which features the likes of running back Ezekiel Elliott, and wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb. Defensively, new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn leads an impressive group which features Demarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith and first-round pick Micah Parsons.
A 30-person NFL Films crew will be at Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard, shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.
HBO has aired 77 memorable episodes and one anniversary special in its first 15 seasons. No other sports reality series can match the production excellence, critical acclaim, awards and audience numbers posted by HARD KNOCKS. Episodes have averaged 3.7 million viewers over the past five years.
Winner of 18 Sports Emmy® Awards to date, HARD KNOCKS launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, and resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, subsequently spotlighting the Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014), Houston Texans (2015) and Los Angeles Rams (2016). The 2017 edition chronicled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and captured the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Serialized Documentary. The widely acclaimed 2018 series with the Cleveland Browns earned two Sports Emmy® Awards for production excellence. The 2019 series spotlighted the Oakland Raiders as they played their final season in the Bay area before moving the franchise to Las Vegas. In an unprecedented programming move, the 2020 edition of the venerable series spotlighted both Los Angeles NFL teams: The Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams.
Ten of the last twelve teams featured on HARD KNOCKS have equaled or improved their win-loss record in the regular season. The Cleveland Browns launched the transformation of their organization on HBO and went from a winless 2017 season to coming within half a game (7-8-1) of a .500 campaign. The 2019 season saw the Raiders improve their record to 7-9 from the previous year’s 4-12 mark. Both Los Angeles’ teams, Rams and Chargers, improved their records in 2020 with two more wins from the previous year; with the Rams making the playoffs.
The Washington Post wrote, “Turning football players into people is what HBO’s HARD KNOCKS series does so well. The massive scope, meticulous editing and time-hopping special effects that highlight a production under massive time constraints are all impressive, but it’s the film crew’s access to NFL players that makes the program special.” NFL.com stated, “There are myriad reasons why HARD KNOCKS remains one of the best shows on television; it’s ability to show us the human side of cutdown weekend is near the top,” while USA TODAY wrote, “Players’ lives and their hopes and dreams play out each NFL preseason on HARD KNOCKS. It’s that month-long human drama that makes the show so profoundly compelling.”
Winner of 133 Sports Emmy® Awards, NFL Films remains a gold standard in sports television, providing unprecedented access to and legendary storytelling about the sport of professional football. NFL Films is a part of NFL Media, the owned and operated media division of the National Football League, which is comprised of NFL Network, NFL Films, the NFL App, NFL.com and NFL RedZone.
HARD KNOCKS: THE DALLAS COWBOYS will be narrated by Liev Schreiber, marking his 15th season with the show.
Are you ready for some football?