HBO announced that the Dallas Cowboys will appear on the new season of the reality show Hard Knocks, which is a bit surprising considering everyone assumed the Jacksonville Jaguars would be the focus of the popular series.

HBO Hard Knocks Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys will appear on Hard Knocks for the third time since its inception on HBO in 2001. (Image: Getty)

The new season of Hard Knocks, which follows an NFL team during training camp and the preseason, debuts with the first of five episodes on HBO and HBO Max on Aug. 10.

The Cowboys make their third appearance on Hard Knocks. HBO’s cameras previously covered the Cowboys in 2002 and again in 2008.

“America, America’s game and America’s Team had a tough 2020,” said Ken Rodgers from NFL Films and Hard Knocks producer. “I feel like this is a perfect happenstance of football, the Cowboys and, hopefully, the country. I’m sure the Cowboys want to put their difficult season behind them more than anyone.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars were the worst team in the NFL last season. The Jags selected Trevor Lawrence with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, who is the most highly-touted QB in over a decade. The team also lured Urban Meyer out of retirement as their new head coach. Following Meyer, Lawrence and the Jags seemed like an obvious choice for Hard Knocks, but the Jags are out and the Cowboys are in.

“The Cowboys are one of the most storied franchises in NFL history and a team that elicits strong reactions from fans around the world,” added Rodgers. “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.”

America’s Team, Jerry’s World

The Cowboys went 6-10 last season after quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome injury that ended his season. In Week 5, Prescott dislocated his ankle and suffered a compound fracture. Backup QB Andy Dalton started the remainder of the season.

Prescott expects to fully return to the Cowboys this season, but his comeback from the injury makes a compelling story for Hard Knocks.

Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers before his relationship with Aaron Rodgers deteriorated and the Packers fired him. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones finally parted ways with long-time head coach Jason Garrett, and hired McCarthy last season in hopes that he can win another Super Bowl trophy for the franchise. The injury to Prescott took a lot of the pressure off McCarthy in his first season in the Big D, but all eyes will be scrutinizing McCarthy’s every move in his second season with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys are +2500 odds to win Super Bowl 56, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. Their win total for the upcoming season is 9.5 wins o/u. The NFC East is considered the weakest division in the NFL, but the Cowboys are favorites to win the NFC East at +125 odds.

Last season, Hard Knocks followed two teams for the first time with the Los Angeles Rams and LA Chargers earning equal screen time on HBO.