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DMN: Hot air: To HBO, NFL Films, Dallas Cowboys cast giant shadow in ‘Hard Knocks’


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The New York Giants, slayers of the Cowboys during last season's NFL playoffs, are the defending Super Bowl champions. They defeated the unbeaten New England Patriots. They play in the media capital of the world and train just a down-and-out from the headquarters of HBO and NFL Films. They have a Manning at quarterback.

They might have appeared to be first in line for an invitation to appear in this season's edition of Hard Knocks.


"The Cowboys were our first choice," said Steve Sabol, NFL Films guru and master puppeteer of the training camp reality series.

Sabol acknowledged NFL Films and HBO – Hard Knocks' parental units – were thinking about approaching the Giants. He quickly added that the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers also were afterthoughts.

The proud people of New York, the most parochial fans in the sporting universe, will be happy to note their Giants fall into the same category as the Saints and Bucs. If the Cowboys are "America's Team," the Saints, the Bucs and their ilk can be dubbed, "America's Witness Protection Teams." Maybe the New Jersey Meadowlands is the perfect home for the Giants, after all.

If Sabol and HBO Sports boss Ross Greenburg could have gone into a lab to put together a franchise to star in the 2008 version of Hard Knocks , which debuts Wednesday at 9 p.m., they would have been hard-pressed to come up with a better Frankenstein than the Cowboys.

In Jerry Jones, the Cowboys have an owner and general manager who views every camera, microphone and notepad as a sales opportunity. Jones is Hard Knocks' affable maitre d'. He'll make sure the cameras and microphones go sated every night.

In Tony Romo sits to pee, they have a quarterback who is a paparazzi's dream. The Cowboys have a Tank, a Pacman and No. 81, a wide receiver who lives for popcorn sales and the spotlight. And don't discount the cheerleaders. Never discount the cheerleaders.

"We have the Dallas Cowboys, the pre-eminent team in the NFL," Greenburg said. "And they are being picked to win the Super Bowl. You can't get better than that."

Well, to get nit-picky here, Wade Phillips isn't exactly the fiery coach who lives for face time. But if Jones tells Phillips to play nice, Phillips will play nice.

I know what you're thinking about Romo sits to pee and his gal pal, Jessica Simpson. Greenburg said that subject came up at a meeting last week. "We were adamant that this not be turned into the Romo sits to pee-Simpson story."

Hard Knocks would be happy to have the Cowboys for a six-week run if they trained in Amarillo and played their preseason games in Abilene, Wichita Falls and Longview. But the Oxnard Cowboys in upcoming weeks will break the tedium of training camp by taking a train ride to play the Chargers in San Diego and heading to Denver to practice against the Broncos.

The Broncos have agreed to allow NFL Films and HBO special access. In TV parlance, this is called getting two for the price of one.

Spoiler alert: During a Thursday conference call to ballyhoo Hard Knocks, Jones brought up his little construction project in Arlington. "I'm building the largest stadium that's ever been built," he volunteered.

He said the cameras and microphones have captured some of his most important conversations about the stadium. HBO is subscription supported, not commercially driven. But the cynic inside all of us should be on the lookout for not-so-subliminal messages boosting the construction project in Arlington.

At the tail end of the conference call, I asked the Cowboys owner, general manager and chief salesman if he might be open to expanding the Hard Knocks experience through a regular season.

Jones hesitated for just a moment. His ultimate reply: "We would welcome it."

The NFL Films and HBO Sports bosses became giddy.

Maybe they'll call it Hard Knocks: the 2009 Season with the Dallas Cowboys in Their New Stadium.

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Steve Sabol and Ross Greenburg are idiots. That just prove how much the media is in love with the Cowboys. Jerry Jones is so interested in marketing and selling an over rated product that he has lost sight of the fact that you have to win a playoff game before you can be Super Bowl Champions.

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It will make this even better when the Cowboys DON'T win the Super Bowl. And if the Giants can't do it, it would be great if another NFC East team knocks them out of the playoffs if they make it. I would even be willing to root for that green looking team from Pennsylvania. Oh man, what has this world come to. :doh:

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I seriously doubt Tom Coughlin would have allowed it anyway but they should have been approached first.

And while it is annoying to read some of the fluff thrown out by NFL Films regarding the Dallas "We have not won a playoff game in over a decade" Cowboys, it is a major coup to get them. I mean come on they had fairly uninteresting teams like Jacksonville and Kansas City these last couple of years. To go from those two to Dallas is a pretty good get for them.

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You would think that they would continue to get new and different team though. I still remember watching Jerry Jones stroke Quincy Carters "EGO" while he rode a stationary a few years ago.. More dallas coverage for me please! ...not

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