For sports fans, HBO's Hard Knocks is television at its best. It's raw, real, dramatic and, most importantly, sporty.
But the nature of the series makes it difficult for the network to find new teams willing to expose the skeletal contents of their closets to the world.
This year, they're being turned down more often than a [insert inappropriate joke]. And with the 11th hour approaching—Michael Shain of the New York Post reports that network officials want to have a team in place by June 1—it might make sense to once again feature "America's Team."
The Dallas Cowboys were the subject of Hard Knocks in 2002, the first franchise to follow guinea pig Baltimore, and then again in 2008. While HBO would probably prefer to avoid using the same team for a third time in seven seasons, this might be the smartest route.
The Cowboys aren't the sexiest option, but they'd inevitably drive ratings because a) they're the Cowboys, and b) it's still compelling reality television. And with teams like the Jets, Broncos, Redskins, Texans, Seahawks, Raiders and 49ers already reportedly passing, it's not as though HBO has the luxury to get picky.
Teams like the Lions, Steelers, Colts, Giants, Saints and Patriots would be more likely to put me on the edge of my futon, but indications are that none of those teams would be willing to place themselves under the Hard Knocks microscope.
The problem is that the Cowboys don't have a Terrell Owens on this roster. Plus, from an entertainment value perspective, the Jets set the bar pretty damn high in 2010.
That could be the problem. While the Jets' season was arguably the best in the history of the series, it might have scared prospective teams away. A team's goal isn't to make premium cable viewers laugh, and Gang Green had a lot of warts exposed and a few embarrassing moments in those episodes.
But I don't think that's what would scare the Cowboys away. Ultimately, the fact that the team failed to make the playoffs both seasons in which it appeared on the show might be a factor. That said, Dallas wasn't supposed to be very good in '02 and started '08 with four wins in its first five games.
Five reasons the Cowboys would work
1. It's Hard Knocks. Everyone works. Except the Jaguars. The Jaguars won't work.
2. It's the Cowboys, the most popular team in the country. Also, they're the most disliked team in the country.
3. Jerry Jones is the most provocative owner in football.
4. Morris Claiborne has Deion Sanders-like expectations.
5. Dez Bryant has the credentials to emerge as a Hard Knocks star.
That's all you need, really.
So, Cowboys fans, should your team take the dive again?