July 4th was America's birthday so what better week to take the time and think about how much we dislike the Dallas Cowboys, the group that has been living under the label of "America's Team" for more than 30 years.
Who is the Eagles' biggest rival?
I know fans who live in New Jersey or up in New York will answer that the Giants are Public Enemy No. 1. Those Eagles fans have to interact with Giants fans on a daily basis and that can't help but generate anger towards the blue monster. Eagles fans who live down in Maryland, Virginia or other parts of the South will tell you that they despise the Redskins. Again, dealing with the fans can be torture.
For me, it is all about the Dallas Cowboys. I detest them with a zeal that probably isn't real healthy, normal or understandable to non-sports fans. Dallas just isn't a division rival. They are the enemy. So why do I feel this way?
I'm not a lifetime Dallas hater. I grew up loving Tom Landry. I'm really not sure what it was that made me like him so much. Most kids love players. I loved coaches. Might have been an NFL Films special or a Sports Illustrated article, but something sold me on the greatness of Landry. I loathed the Redskins and Giants, but not Dallas.
That changed when Jerry Jones bought the team and fired Landry. Even worse, Jones replaced him with Jimmy Johnson, the evil genius behind the insufferable Miami teams. Since that day, I have disliked Dallas and had a great time doing so. Seeing Jones with a frown in the closing minutes of a game puts a smile on my face.
I'm sure all Eagles fans despise Jones. He is our Darth Vader. Or would he be the Emperor and would Johnson be Vader? Whatever. He's the head honcho of the bad guys. I do respect Jones. He's an innovative businessman who has done a lot of good for the NFL. I'm not completely irrational when I look down on Dallas.
The reason we extremely dislike Jones is that he makes himself part of the football side of things. I have nothing but respect for the Mara family that runs the Giants. They are quiet and stay behind the scenes. Jones is front and center. He loves the media and has an ego about the size of Texas. Late in games, Jones will go down to the sideline. There is nothing better than watching him go down there in a close game he thinks Dallas might win, only to see them lose.
Enough about Jones. There are plenty of other reasons to hate Dallas.
Jimmy Johnson led them to a pair of Super Bowls in the early 1990s. That's a long time ago, but veteran fans still can't stand him. He came to the NFC East at a time when the division was loaded with great coaches. Joe Gibbs was studious and remains one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Bill Parcells was Mr. Personality, plus he could coach. Buddy Ryan was also heavy on the personality and a legitimate defensive genius. All three of them were old school guys.
Johnson came to the NFL from college and brought in all these new ideas. He was young and brash and wanted to do things his way. Johnson changed the NFL, but to those of us who were fans at the time, the league didn't need changing. Who was this young punk with the crazy ideas? As you know, it turned out to be the worst case scenario. Johnson's innovative style worked and he built a dynasty. Barf. At that time, his signature line of, "How 'bout them Cowboys?" was truly torture to my ears. Over the years it has changed and is now used to mock Dallas. Radio host Tony Bruno is the king of this and instantly puts a smile on my face when he's making fun of the Cowboys.
Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were known as "the triplets" and they drove me crazy. Aikman was mainly guilty of being the Dallas quarterback. He wasn't much of a showboat. Emmitt was. He was a great runner, but I couldn't stand the way he celebrated by taking his helmet off. He also kept the ball from every touchdown. You could shut Emmitt down for three quarters, only to have him bust loose in the fourth. You could not relax until the game was over. Irvin was the king of the push-off, but it only got called a few times a season. It was great when the Eagles got Bobby Taylor and finally had a corner who was big enough to handle him. Irvin also loved to celebrate when he scored or made a big play. He was from Miami, so that was in his football DNA.
|Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.|
Dallas has had some great players since then. I don't feel nearly as strong about them. Tony Romo's goofy grin can definitely get on your nerves. Luckily, we haven't seen that very much in the postseason. Dez Bryant is a player that I'm pretty sure we'll all be cheering hard against throughout his career. He's an explosive playmaker, but has some of that Irvin personality to his game.
This isn't all about people. You have to cringe at Dallas and Thanksgiving Day football games. They host one each year. Dallas all too often gets a cupcake opponent. Only once in the last six seasons has Dallas faced a winning team on Thanksgiving. I know the NFL can't predict who will have a winning record, but that's too much of a trend. I'm not a conspiracy guy, but it does drive me crazy to see Dallas against such weak foes. Part of that is purely from a football standpoint. There aren't games to choose from so you'd like the games that are being played to have good opponents. I guess we could thank Dallas for sometimes playing down to the competition, last year barely beating a bad Miami team.
There is also something about the Cowboys and the way they do things. There is a bit too much glitz and glamour for my taste. Lincoln Financial Field is down in South Philly. The new Dallas stadium sits out away from the world and is a cathedral to Jones and his beloved franchise. The stadium is the biggest in all of pro football. Frank Lloyd Wright believed that form followed function. Jones thinks of size first. "Make it the biggest" could easily have been his first words to the architects of the stadium. Form and function can wait. I have to say that it was fun to find out what a fiasco it turned out to be when Dallas hosted the Super Bowl.
The glitz and glamour angle goes back beyond Jones. The old stadium had the hole in the roof that could drive you crazy. The joke answer for the hole was that it allowed God to watch his favorite team. Yeah, that's not the least bit arrogant is it? The team logo is a fancy star. Compare that to the old school logos of the Packers and Bears. At least the person who started the Cowboys had the good taste not to give us golden helmets with the star on them. That would have been pure torture.
Finally, we have the fans. Dallas fans are a unique bunch. There are some good ones out there who love their team and know football really well. Then there are the casual fans. They load up on Dallas gear because they love being a Dallas fan, but don't really know football. I was giving a hard time to a Dallas fan once and he let me know that he was a real fan. He had the right to enjoy the Aikman/Smith Super Bowls because he'd been a fan when the team went 0-11 that one year. Uh, yeah, I think he meant 1-15. Every team has some bandwagon fans, but Dallas leads the Milky Way galaxy in that category. Being an Eagles fan has some meaning. Being a Dallas fan means having some gear with the star logo and remembering the tough times when America's Team went 0-11.
Give me the Eagles every day of the week.