Dallas Cowboys to star on Hard Knocks yet again

The Cowboys fourth appearance on an NFL behind-the-scenes show is an example of the larger problem in Dallas.
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The Dallas Cowboys will be the focus of this year's Hard Knocks, the league announced Friday. If that sounds like something you've heard before, that's because you have.

This will actually be America's Team third time on the show, the most in the league. When counting their 2017 experience on Amazon's All or Nothing, this will be the fourth time in 21 seasons the Cowboys have had a camera crew embedded with them for training camp or the entire season.

All four seasons occurred under different head coaching regimes. The two constants are the Jones family's ownership. and the team's irrelevance in late January and February. The through line here, of course, Jerry Jones. 

Jerry would love nothing more than to win a Super Bowl on his terms, but since that has not happened for 25 years and counting, he's taken short cuts to relevance -- getting on Hard Knocks, hosting the Super Bowl and the draft -- that do nothing to inch the Cowboys toward the ultimate goal but nevertheless tide him over by putting the team in the spotlight in the short term.

The Hard Knocks franchise launched in 2001, the same season Bill Belichick led the Patriots to the first of six Super Bowls. The Pats have never appeared on Hard Knocks or All or Nothing, while the Cowboys are preparing to welcome the circus to town for the fourth time. 

Perhaps that's a coincidence, perhaps it's not. 

"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."

Dallas Cowboys on TV

YearShowHead CoachRecord

2002

Hard Knocks

Dave Campo

5-11

2008

Hard Knocks

Wade Phillips

9-7, no playoffs

2017

All or Nothing

Jason Garrett

9-7, no playoffs

2021

Hard Knocks

Mike McCarthy

TBD

Of the 21 combined seasons chronicled on Hard Knocks or All or Nothing, no team has advanced to the Super Bowl while 13 missed the playoffs. (The 2016 Rams were actually featured on both shows for their return-to-LA season; they went 4-12.)

Roughly the league has yet to appear on either show.

Teams yet to appear on Hard Knocks/All or Nothing:

Buffalo Bills
Chicago Bears
Denver Broncos
Detroit Lions
Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
Tennessee Titans
Washington Football Team

The league has a contract with HBO to continue producing the show through 2024. That's enough time for Jerry to squeeze the Cowboys back on once, maybe twice more.