By Terrance Turner
Aug. 24, 2021
Tonight’s episode of “Hard Knocks” took an in-depth look at the personal lives of players working to make the Cowboys team. Family interviews shed light on the lives of Isaac Alarcon and Travon Diggs; viewers got a close-up look at LaQuan Hardy’s eyes. But the real star of tonight’s episode was “The Star”.
After the intro, tonight’s episode officially opened with a mesmerizing three-minute drone shot of “The Star”, the Dallas Cowboys’ 91-acre complex in Frisco, TX. It’s a sprawling facility that comes with a boutique shopping center and luxury hotel. (It’s where the team practices.) HBO took us on a grand tour of “The Star” tonight, weaving through practice facilities, locker rooms, and more. The result was a stunning, sweeping view of the premises.
Writer Shane Keeley noted: “There are so many amazing moments that must have required pinpoint accuracy on the part of the drone pilot. The moment where the drone flies through a sculpture of various statues close together and the moment when it flies through the open windows of a truck certainly come to mind.” You can see the dramatic drone footage here:
So how was this dramatic drone sequence achieved? According to Michael Gehlken, a reporter who covers the Cowboys for the Dallas Morning News, it took 15 tries to get the shot right. So what you see in the episode is the 15th shot. The footage was reportedly filmed before the Cowboys got back from Oxnard, California, which is where their preseason workouts typically take place:
But the eye-catching drone shots weren’t the only highlight of tonight’s episode. Offensive guard Isaac Alarcon, who was prominently featured at the end of last week’s episode, got some more screen time tonight. Alacron is part of the International Player Pathway Program, which provides playing opportunities for players born outside the U.S. and Canada. Alarcon is from Monterrey, in northern Mexico.
Monterrey is the capital of the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. Founded as a Spanish settlement in 1596, it has since grown into a booming metropolitian area. According to Brittanica, the city’s iron and steel manufacturing have helped fuel Nuevo León’s status as the third largest state economy in Mexico. “Everyone is very happy and pleasant,” Alarcon’s father says of Monterrey during an interview.
Alarcon recalls on-camera that he began playing football at 15. He was inspired by his older brother, who started playing before him. Alarcon never dreamed that he would wind up playing in the NFL. But here he is, on the Cowboys. And the NFL is allowing him (and other international players) to honor their heritage. Players can decorate their helmet with a flag decal representing their country of origin. So Alarcon adorns his helmet with a decal of the Mexican flag.