In what’s becoming a pattern, the Dallas Cowboys are featured this summer on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and once again, it’s not going as well as they’d like. During their last appearance, in 2015, the team became the butt of every joke after the team’s star players were caught goofing off in practice. In 2012, they were featured on the show and the players got into a fight, which resulted in a fine for the team. The Dallas Cowboys are putting on the red facemask and the paintballs for another long summer, and it’s going to be a long season.

There’s no denying that Hard Knocks is an interesting show, and it provides us with a glimpse into the NFL’s inner workings, which can be a humbling experience. However, with two episodes already in the books, I’m starting to grow a little weary of the Cowboys’ turn on the HBO program. I guess it’s interesting to see the team during training camp, but I’m all for giving the franchise a break. I don’t see how this latest installment will hurt the team.

Last season, the Cowboys were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and things did not go well for the team. With Jerry Jones’s sons and other players facing jail time and discipline, domestic violence, and general drug use, Hard Knocks didn’t inspire much confidence in the organization.

As a surprise, the Dallas Cowboys will be the first NFL team to be featured in Hard Knocks , as part of the show’s 20th anniversary celebration. After an extremely disappointing 6-10 campaign in which Dallas had to deal with a number of key player injuries, including Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury in Week 5, the Cowboys certainly won’t miss any aspects of their preparation for the 2021 season.

Of course, we’ll see a lot of focus on Prescott as he tries to recover from that horrific injury in what will be his first season under a new four-year, $160 million contract. We’ll also likely see a lot from Dallas’ new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who will lead a Cowboys defense that in 2020 was the worst in franchise history. Ezekiel Elliott is having the worst year of his career. Will Amari Cooper’s ankle still be a problem? Hard Knocks also likes to include rookies in storylines, including the Cowboys have several individuals who could make an impact in the upcoming season, including Mika Parsons.

And then, of course, there’s Jerry Jones. Need we say more?

While we don’t yet know how the 2021 campaign will play out, we do know that the Cowboys didn’t finish well the last two times they participated in Hard Knocks(2002 and 2008) – Dallas failed to make the playoffs both times.

Dallas Cowboys lost 5-11 after first appearance in Hard Knocks in 2002

Dallas Cowboys Helmet| Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The highlight of the 2002 season for the Dallas Cowboys came in Week 8, when Emmitt Smith, playing his 13th and final season for Team America, broke Walter Payton’s all-time record and became the greatest rusher of all time in NFL history by rushing for 11 yards in the fourth quarter of a 17-14 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Since everyone already knew this would be Smith’s final season in Dallas, it became one of the main storylines of Hard Knocks that year, as did the quarterback competition between Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. Carter ended up being the starter in Week 1, but was later replaced by Hutchinson, who started nine games versus Carter’s seven. As mentioned earlier, the series usually features at least one rookie, and this story went to linebacker Roy Williams, who played in all 16 games for Dallas this season and was a five-time Pro Bowler.

As for the season, it was a complete disaster. The offense ranks 30th with an average of 13.6 points and 273.4 yards per game, while the defense ranks 18th with an average of 20.6 points and 329.2 yards per game. The Cowboys finished their third consecutive season with a 5-11 record, which led to the resignation of head coach Dave Campo, who was also active in the Hard Knocksprogram .

In 2008, the Cowboys were 9-7

Before the 2008 season began, the Cowboys went 13-3 and won their first NFC East title since 1998. However, they missed the playoffs and lost to the New York Giants in the divisional round. Hard Knocks # for ’08 contained a lot of drama, including the reassignment of Adam Pacman Jones, who joined Dallas in the offseason after a one-year suspension.

Ray Lewis’ half-brother, running back Keon Lattimore, who was ultimately not chosen, was also on the show. Unbought rookie Danny Amendola, who doesn’t have a big enough size, was also on the 53-man roster and spent the season on the Cowboys’ practice squad. Amendola, of course, won two Super Bowls with Tom Brady for the New England Patriots.

While not as bad as the 2002 season, the 2008 season, which was the last for the Cowboys at Texas Stadium, was still a disappointment for Dallas. But it didn’t start that way, as the Cowboys got off to a strong start, winning four of their first five games. They then lost three of their next four games, but after a week’s rest they got back on track, winning another three games and posting an 8-4 record.

But then they lost two of their next three games in the final week of the season, and their playoff hopes were destroyed in Week 17 with a crushing 44-6 defeat at home against the rival Philadelphia Eagles. It was the Cowboys’ worst defeat in Dallas since a 44-0 loss against the Chicago Bears in 1985.

Only six of the 16 teams in Hard Knocks made it to the postseason, and none made it to the Super Bowl.


Although the Hard Knocksseries will be 20 years old in 2021, this is actually only the 16th year. Relay. After first appearing on the show in 2002, the Dallas Cowboys took a four-year break and returned in 2007 with an item on the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2011, no team wanted to participate in the show given the union situation in the NFL at the time. In 2020, Hard Knocks followed both teams for the first time, covering both the Rams and Chargers as they prepared for their first season at SoFi Stadium.

A total of 16 teams have been featured in the 15 seasons of Hard Knocks. Of those 16 teams, only six made it to the postseason, five from the AFC and one from the NFC. Of those six teams, none have reached the Super Bowl, and only one has made it to the Conference Championship Game – the New York Jets in 2010.

So if we turn Hard Knocks into a metric, the Cowboys would only have a 37.5% chance of making the playoffs this season and zero chance of making the Super Bowl. Sure, it’s a little silly, but if people believe in Madden’s curse, who’s to say others don’t?

Here’s a look at how each team that has appeared on Hard Knocks over the years has excelled during their seasons on the show. Those who participated in the playoffs are in bold.

  • 2001 : Baltimore Ravens, 10-6, divisional round loss against Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2002 : Dallas Cowboys, 5-11, miss playoffs
  • 2007 : Kansas City Chiefs, 4-12, miss playoffs
  • 2008 : Dallas Cowboys, 9-7, miss playoffs
  • 2009 : Cincinnati Bengals, 10-6, lost in playoff round to New York Jets-Team
  • 2010 : New York Jets, 11-5, lost AFC championship to Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 2012 : Miami Dolphins, 7-9, miss the playoffs.
  • 2013 : Cincinnati Bengals, 11-5, lost in wild-card final to San Diego Chargers
  • 2014 : Atlanta Falcons, 6-10, miss playoffs
  • 2015 : Houston Texans, 9-7, playoff loss against Kansas City Chiefs
  • 2016 : Los Angeles Rams, 4-12, miss playoffs
  • 2017 : Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 5-11, miss playoffs
  • 2018 : Cleveland Browns, 7-8-1, miss playoffs
  • 2019 : Oakland Raiders, 7-9, miss playoffs
  • 2020 : – Los Angeles Rams, 10-6, lost in divisional round to Green Bay Packers – Los Angeles Chargers, 7-9, missed playoffs

All five episodes of the Hard Knocks season featuring the Dallas Cowboys will air on Tuesday the 10th. August at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Channel on HBO.

statistics provided by Pro Football Reference

COMPARED TO: Dallas Cowboys fans vote for the team’s most underrated and overrated players, the team’s number of wins in 2021 and moreLast season the Dallas Cowboys were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. This season they have been featured on the Hard Knocks: The Training Camp of the 2017 Houston Texans, which you can watch on HBO tonight at 10pm.. Read more about hard knocks eligibility 2021 and let us know what you think.

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