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The third Hard Knocks episode all about the Cleveland Browns was kind of about the Dallas Cowboys

America’s Team.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Unbeknownst to all of us at the time, the 2017 Dallas Cowboys were secretly profiled on an NFL Films production - Amazon’s All or Nothing. Many of us spent some time this offseason re-living the season through their lens, and it was, well it was entertaining.

AoN has been referred to as a Hard Knocks type of show, HN being the popular HBO series that airs through training camp while chronicling a particular NFL team. This season HN has been profiling the looking-to-bounce-back Cleveland Browns who didn’t win a game last season and have the top overall draft pick in quarterback Baker Mayfield at their disposal. If you haven’t been watching let me tell you that it’s definitely one of the better HN seasons of the last few years, and the Cowboys got some interesting references this week.

Some believe the 2018 Browns can be the 90s Cowboys

The first reference to America’s Team came during a meeting between Browns GM John Dorsey and their VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. Older Cowboys fans might remember Highsmith from the cup of coffee that he had with Dallas back in the early 90s, and, much like many players have from that era, he tried to liken something to it... something kind of unlike it.

I tell you what, I kind of feel something. I remember I got traded to the Dallas Cowboys. They were 1-15 in Jimmy Johnson’s first year. I see a lot of similarities. I see a lot of the same energy. I see a lot of the same little issues, but you know what? These players are going to overcome.

It’s perfectly fine (and honestly expected) for the Browns to be confident in themselves entering 2018. This is a team that didn’t win a game last year, but they’re not going to come out and say that they don’t believe they can accomplish anything together; however, there’s a huge difference between believing in yourselves and equating what you’ve got going on to one the beginning of the greatest dynasties the National Football League has ever seen.

Moreover, Highsmith was waived in early 1991 by the Cowboys. Yes, he was technically on the team and around the early culture that Jimmy Johnson was building in Dallas, but he wasn’t there when things clicked and materialized in the historic way that they did. With no disrespect intended for Highsmith this is a classic case of [insert random person who was at all a part of the 90s Cowboys] romanticizing their experience to a degree.

Dez Bryant showed up, and all he wants is “realness”

Before Dez showed up on the show there was a scene with John Dorsey and other Browns staffers. Someone asks Dorsey which wide receiver led the NFL in receiving touchdowns from 2012-2017 (a staggering 71% of this was Dez’s incredible 2012-2014 run by the way) and the guesses that follow are Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, and Jarvis Landry (seriously).

After no one can guess who it is the staffer in question slyly says, “you’ll see him today,” and the room applauds. They’re of course talking about Dez Bryant who we know (this is the world of pre-recorded television remember) visited the Browns last week and left without a deal. The episode then cuts to a montage of Bryant arriving in Cleveland, signing a Browns helmet at the airport, and introducing himself to what-looks-like everyone in the building before meeting with head coach Hue Jackson.

Hue Jackson: What are you looking for, Dez?

Dez Bryant: I’m just looking for realness. That’s all.

Hue: Well Dez, I’ll tell you this opportunity that’s sitting before you is kind of unique in the sense that we’re at a time where I think that we’re about to do this (gestures upward). At a time where you could help us get this organization back to where it rightfully should be. The last two years have been hell, I’ll be the first to tell you that. But it’s going to take guys like you that love to compete, who love to go in these big stadiums, and is like “we’re here and we’re coming here to kick your ass,” and that’s the kind of guys I’m looking for.

Dez: Coach, this is new to me. I’m just being honest, all of this is new. Just being honest the way you’re expressing yourself, the way you’re talking to me, we barely know each other and I feel comfortable. That’s what these players want. I want to just be honest with you. I just want that realness because I’m going to give you who I am. I feel like I’m an easy person to talk to. I love learning. I want to know things. If there’s something I’m not doing right I want to know those things because I feel like we all deserve that. We all deserve an opportunity.

Hue would go on to say that this would be “the greatest turnaround in sports history” when referencing the Browns upcoming season and well, hey, you can’t fault a guy for having confidence. The Browns got wide receiver Josh Gordon back between Dez’s visit and now so we’ll see if they have any interest left in Bryant, although the end scene of Hard Knocks did tease that we’d get some insight into that next week.

There’s a show on HBO all about the Cleveland Browns and on Tuesday night it was partlabout the Dallas Cowboys. These are weird times, friends.

It’s also worth noting that in the teaser for next week Browns (and former Eagles) linebacker Mychal Kendricks said that they currently (as in Cleveland) had more talent in their room than they did in Philadelphia when he was there. He really said that. Mychal Kendricks believes the Cleveland Browns who didn’t win a game last year have more talent than the team that won the Super Bowl.

I told you these were weird times.

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