Yet another chance to laugh at the dysfunctional franchise that is the Dallas Cowboys has arrived.
The newest season of HBO and NFL Films’ "Hard Knocks" premieres Tuesday, Aug. 10, at 10 p.m. ET, and for a third time the Cowboys are the subject of the training camp reality series.
The NFC East has been pretty busy in the reality show business over the last few years; the Eagles were featured on Amazon's "All or Nothing" series last year, which has a similar premise to Hard Knocks. The Cowboys appeared in the 2017 edition of All or Nothing.
While ratings dipped for last season’s Los Angeles edition featuring the Rams and Chargers, the 2021 series keeps the cameras focused on a team that’s never short of storylines. From Dak Prescott’s injury recovery to Mike McCarthy’s second year as head coach to Jerry Jones at the mic, the Cowboys never stray far from the spotlight.
Here’s all the info you need to know about the “Hard Knocks” premiere, where to stream it and more:
Where to watch ‘Hard Knocks’
The five-episode “Hard Knocks” season premieres Tuesday, Aug. 10, on HBO. The hour-long episodes narrated by Liev Schreiber come out each Tuesday and can be streamed on HBO Max.
The final episode comes out just two days before the Cowboys kick off the 2021 NFL season against the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. That game can be viewed on NBC and Peacock at 8:20 p.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 9.
Here is the “Hard Knocks” schedule for the 2021 NFL season:
Episode 1: Aug. 10, 10 p.m. ET, HBO and HBO Max
Episode 2: Aug. 17, 10 p.m. ET, HBO and HBO Max
Episode 3: Aug. 24, 10 p.m. ET, HBO and HBO Max
Episode 4: Aug. 31, 10 p.m. ET, HBO and HBO Max
Episode 5: Sept. 7, 10 p.m. ET, HBO and HBO Max
Which teams have been on ‘Hard Knocks’?
Thirteen teams have been featured across the 16-season history of “Hard Knocks.”
This is the Cowboys’ all-time leading third season starring on the show, with the first two editions coming in 2002 and 2008.
Here is the full history of teams on the show:
2001: Baltimore Ravens
2002: Dallas Cowboys
2007: Kansas City Chiefs
2008: Dallas Cowboys
2009: Cincinnati Bengals
2010: New York Jets
2012: Miami Dolphins
2013: Cincinnati Bengals
2014: Atlanta Falcons
2015: Houston Texans
2016: Los Angeles Rams
2017: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018: Cleveland Browns
2019: Oakland Raiders
2020: Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers
2021: Dallas Cowboys
Eagles fans should feel good knowingn that “Hard Knocks” has not led to great fortune for the Cowboys in their previous two appearances. Dallas went 5-11 in the 2002 season, giving the team its second straight last-place finish in the division as the Birds won the East at 12-4 before losing in the NFC Championship Game. The team’s second appearance came on the heels of a 13-3 season that ended against the rival New York Giants in the NFC divisional round, but the 2008 team missed the playoffs after going 9-7, as the Eagles snuck into the postseason at 9-6-1 and once again lost in the NFC Championship Game. (Starting to sense a trend here?)
No team has ever reached the Super Bowl the same season it starred on "Hard Knocks." The 2010 New York Jets came the closest, as they were the only team to ever reach a conference championship game in their ensuing NFL season.
Teams on "Hard Knocks" were on a four-year playoff drought before the Rams secured a wild card spot in 2020. The Cowboys will need a healthy Prescott, along with improvements from Ezekiel Elliott and the defense as a whole, to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Ideally the Eagles can get in their way.
How are teams eligible for ‘Hard Knocks’?
While the NFL still seeks volunteers for the show, it passed rules in 2013 for “Hard Knocks” eligibility. If no team is forthcoming, the league appoints one.
There are three exceptions that make a team ineligible: teams that have first-year head coaches, teams that made the playoffs in at least one of the last two seasons and teams that have participated in any of the previous 10 seasons. The Eagles were ineligible for this year after they hired first-time head coach Nick Sirianni, and also because they reached the playoffs in 2019. For the 2021 “Hard Knocks” season, the eligible NFL teams were the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.