It is with a heavy heart that I announce that the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys rivalry is on life support.
Dallas Week, especially when the game was being played in Philadelphia, used to be explosive - with effigies of Troy Aikman being eviscerated with chainsaws and your neighbors sporting those white T-shirts emblazoned with primitive blue sketching of the spikey-haired kid doing a tinkle on the Cowboy star.
But in 2011, as it pertains to another 16-game NFL regular season, the Dallas Cowboys have become just another opponent.
Aside from a turf war based on geography, three major elements create and fuel a good, contempt-filled sports rivalry. One, your team has to have lost constantly to the other guy. Two, the losing must make you envious and bitter about the other team's success - sort of an elitist/commoners theme. And three, the other team has to not consider you a rival.
In the good old days, all three of those elements were present. We hated Dallas because the Cowboys were good and they whupped us, they were elitist snobs in winning and also with that high and mighty Dallas oil/J.R. Ewing thing, and they considered the Washington Redskins their main rival. And by golly, did that tick us off!
But things have changed. Today, the Cowboys are no longer as viable. While they have had recent success against the Birds - going into Sunday night's game they have beaten the Eagles five of the last six times - their overall record lately pales in comparison to the Eagles'. Dallas is a pedestrian 93-77 in the last 10 season before this one. The Cowboys have only four playoff appearances in those years and were eliminated twice in the wild-card round. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 102-57 with eight playoff berths. The Birds played in five conference championship games and a Super Bowl during that span, and that was with Andy Reid coughing up time- management phlegm and Donovan McNabb trying to kill earthworms. (Sorry, couldn't help it).
At this particular time, I'm not so sure the New York Giants aren't the bigger rival to the Eagles.
So, to get us all jacked for the game, let's hark back to the days when we loathed the Cowboys like poison oak. The following are lists of Cowboys I disliked the most. One is a list of Cowboys who were great players who kicked our butt continually. The other is a list of more obscure guys, good not great, but too annoying to be ignored.
Randy White. The defensive tackle was one of the toughest men ever to play the game, and he killed the Eagles every time the two teams played. White missed one game - one - in 14 years and was a co-MVP of a Super Bowl, only one of seven defensive players ever to earn that distinction. He missed one game in 14 years? Are you kidding me?
Tony Dorsett. He just slid off tackles, especially by the Eagles. And then, just when they thought they had a good shot at Dorsett, he'd go down or slide out of bounds. Frustrating.
Roger Staubach. Old-school, nauseating America's Team Cowboy nonsense. Staubach was great, but he was like the kid in high school who got straight A's, was captain of every sports team, the president of every club, and had the lead in the school play. He married his grade- school sweetheart, for crying out loud. And he joined the NFL after a Navy career. Captain America of America's Team. And we hated him for it. Staubach even invented the "Hail Mary" pass. Yes, after completing a bomb to Drew Pearson in a 1975 playoff game against the Vikings, Staubach said that before he threw the ball, he said a "Hail Mary." And after his career, we had to endure those cheesy Anderson-Little clothing commercials where he hawked $199 suits.
Michael Irvin. Need I say more? Philadelphia took a bad rap for cheering when Irvin was felled by Tim Hauck in that October 1999 game at the Vet. But the world didn't take inventory of how Irvin tormented and taunted Philly fans with that obnoxious, demonstrative, and dramatic arm thrust when he caught a pass for a first down. You reap what you sow. And then there was that caper with the plate of cocaine in a hotel room.
Erik Williams. He was with Irvin and the plate of cocaine in that hotel room. But the main reason we hated Williams was because he was so darn good against Reggie White. Nobody was good against Reggie White. He held Reggie to zero sacks in two meetings in 1992. And he was from Philadelphia's John Bartram High. The Cowboys took Williams with their third pick of the third round in the 1991 draft. Here are the players the Eagles took in that draft instead of Williams: Antone Davis and Jesse Campbell. Five picks after the Cowboys got Williams, the Eagles covered their tracks with offensive lineman Rob Selby. Ugh.
Honorable mention: Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders (not enough of a Cowboy brand to make a top five), Emmitt Smith (really didn't tick us off), Tom Landry (The hat? Come on.)
Bill Bates. Who was this guy? CBS's Pat Summerall talked about him and his stupid ranch, where he'd invite all of his teammates to dine on pregame steak, every Sunday ad nauseam. A special-teams guy, then a slow safety who gave the Eagles fits.
Jay Novacek. Aikman to Novacek for a first down on third and long was every Eagles fan's nightmare. Novacek was slow but always seemed to be wide open. And Summerall would tell us at least five times a game that the tight end was from the University of Wyoming.
Danny White. A quarterback and a punter? White was the guy who replaced Staubach and continued the Cowboys' success in the early 1980s. No discernible talent, but he always seemed to beat the Eagles. Had the audacity to side with the owners during the 1982 players strike. And then he became a bad country singer. Had one song, "You're a Part of Me," that reached as high as No. 85 on the Hot Country Songs chart. I didn't even know there were 85 total country songs in existence.
4. Robert Newhouse. Old- school fullback with 44-inch thighs who mainly blocked for halfbacks Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, and at the end for Dorsett. But he did have his longest run ever against the Eagles - a 55-yard jaunt in 1973. Here is a list of starters on the Eagles defense that year who could have missed tackling Newhouse on that play: Richard Harris, Gary Pettigrew, Marlin McKeever, John Outlaw, and Joe Lavender. What a team.
I know we're all a little gooey about Andy Reid's 12-0 Eagles record coming out of a bye, but a look inside the numbers (below, with scoring) indicates that only three and a half of those victories were actually of quality:
1999: Beat the Rams in the last game of the regular season as the Rams rested their players for the playoffs (zero points).
2000: Beat the Bengals, who finished 4-12 (zero points).
2001: Beat the Giants, who finished 7-9 (zero points).
2002: Beat the Buccaneers, who would win the Super Bowl after upsetting the Eagles in the NFC title game (one point for quality win).
2003: Beat the Bills, who finished 6-10 (zero points).
2004: Beat the Carolina Panthers, who finished 7-9 and had lost six straight games when they met the Eagles (zero points).
2005: Beat the Chargers, who finished 9-7 (half a point).
2006: Beat the Redskins, who finished 5-11 (zero points).
2007: Beat the Jets, who finished 4-12 (zero points).
2008: Beat the Falcons, who finished 11-5 (one point for quality win).
2009: Beat the Bucs, who finished 3-13 (zero points).
2010: Beat the Colts, who finished 10-6 (one point for quality win).