If you thought these Dallas Cowboys were too soft for Hard Knocks, the show's opening scene delivered a jarring blow to your skeptical kisser.
"I love scars," said quarterback Dak Prescott as HBO's cameras zoomed in on his surgically repaired right ankle. "I got plenty of 'em."
Of course there were sensitive moments - owner Jerry Jones tearing up during his opening press conference of training camp at Oxnard and then (despite owning the NFL's most valuable franchise worth $6.5 billion) eating McDonald's for lunch, head coach Mike McCarthy's reunion with his parents in Canton, Ohio, and, especially, receiver CeeDee Lamb getting accidentally hit in the "nuts" during practice - but Episode 1 revealed that, behind the scenes, the Cowboys are R-rated and perhaps W-ready.
"F*ck last year," McCarthy said passionately during a meeting. "Charlie F*ckaround? He doesn't work here. High School Harry? Get his ass out the f*cking door. This is about winning a world championship. Nothing else. Winning season? Not good enough. Playoffs? Not good enough. Getting to the conference championship game? Not good enough. This is about winning the Super Bowl. Period."
Narrated by Liev Schreiber - who's no John Facenda, but pretty darn salty - the episode delivered the usual lighter moments of training camp: Special teams coach John Fassel detailing his vasectomy ... running back Ezekiel Elliott stealing Prescott's bicycle (for what it's worth, the 1990s Super Bowl-winning Cowboys drove around in golf carts at St. Edward's University in Austin) ... amped-up rookie linebacker Micah Parsons playfully head-butting teammates ... Elliott, at age 26, admitting to attempting his first gift-wrapping of a birthday present to Prescott.
Said the 28-year-old quarterback of the $13,000 Goyard luggage: "That's dope as f*ck."
Prescott dominated Episode 1, from detailing his recovery from the gruesome, season-ending ankle injury suffered last October, to bemoaning being held out of snaps early in camp, to dealing with a muscle strain that sidelined him completely and prompted the training staff to consult trainers from the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees to help treat the injury to his newly minted $160 million throwing arm.
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"Last year was a season of adversity," he said. "Now it's a season of triumph."
McCarthy was a refreshing supporting actor in this debut, injecting some old-school Austin Powers into camp. After showing a clip from the classic Mike Myers movie, the coach installed "Mojo Moments" into practice: Impromptu situational possessions that forced the offense, defense and special teams to stay alert.
Good news: While the Cowboys are making their record third appearance on Hard Knocks, 19 teams - including their three NFC East brethren - have yet to be featured.
Bad news: The Cowboys have never made the playoffs in a year in which they starred, going a combined 14-18 in 2002 and 2008. In fact, no team on Hard Knocks has ever gone on to play in the Super Bowl.
In 2002, the Cowboys' series was highlighted by Emmitt Smith's imminent pursuit of the NFL's all-time rushing record, the travails of troubled quarterback Quincy Carter and head coach Dave Campo, who sang karaoke, took his players to San Antonio's Sea World and made his entire team punch a time clock.
In 2008, the show followed the storylines of a new stadium being built in Arlington, receiver Terrell Owens, newcomer Pacman Jones, a rookie named Martellus Bennett rolling his eyes at the coaching of assistant John Garrett and the decline of former first-round draft pick Bobby Carpenter, who offensive players derisively referred to as "Barbie Carpenter" and a "punk ass bitch."
This Summer's five-episode series continues each Tuesday, climaxing two days before the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.