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Players Keep Rivalry In Perspective

Posted Oct 16, 2013

As Eagles fans are well aware, it’s Cowboys week in Philadelphia.

Though there is always a buzz around the NovaCare Complex, whether it’s in the cafeteria or the locker room, this week seems to have a little extra energy. When the Eagles and Cowboys meet on Sunday, it will be the 109th time that the two sides have gone head-to-head in what is a historic rivalry. While Eagles fans have had the date with Dallas marked on their calendars for months, the players are making sure that their weekly routines remain unchanged.

“Around here, we’re not going to take any game and look at it as less important than another,” said guard Evan Mathis. “We have other games to play too, and we’re going to give you (the fans) our best every single week. It is a rivalry, it is a team that we play twice a year, and there’s a lot of history there, but we’re going to give you our best every single week.”

According to fellow offensive lineman Todd Herremans, a win on Sunday wouldn’t mean so much for bragging rights as it would for the overall demeanor of the team.

“It’s always a big game,” said Herremans, who has played in his fair share of Eagles-Cowboys matchups. “It’s a division game. The Cowboys are coming to town, and they’re pretty hot right now. They’re playing well and we’re building on something good here, so we just want to keep the win streak going.”

The Cowboys will most likely be playing without two of their top players, as DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray are both dealing with injuries. Even though they may be short a few key players, players like center Jason Kelce know that Dallas always comes ready to play against the Eagles.

“My take is that they’re an individual opponent,” Kelce explained. “There’s obviously a lot of history in this matchup. I would probably say that the Cowboys are the most hated team in Philadelphia from what I’ve been able to grasp, but in all of the games that I’ve played against the Cowboys, they’ve been a tough team and they play us hard so we know that we’re in for a pretty good matchup this week.”

Even for players new to the Eagles nest, the rivalry with the Cowboys is definitely noticeable around the organization. One of those new Eagles is cornerback Cary Williams, who has experienced other rivalry games against the Redskins and Giants and already feels a certain way about Sunday’s opponent. 

“I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys,” Williams said. “Maybe not as much as these fans feel, but I’m coming from different place. We didn’t like Pittsburgh and we didn’t like New England either, so I’m starting to not like these guys in our conference.

“When I get out there, I already have a way of developing a certain hate for people - not saying anybody outside of the game - but it’s just a mindset that you go into and I’m not afraid to talk about that. It’s just one of those things that you have to turn on when you go between the white lines. … Right now, I’ve only played in two games against the Dallas Cowboys in my career, and I didn’t like them the first time and I don’t like them this time.”

Though Williams may have strong feelings, he knows that it’s only natural to not like divisional teams and that winning those games is critical.

“We understand the importance of this week and we understand the importance of winning your divisional games,” said Williams. “Whenever you have a divisional opponent, you understand that there’s a natural hate or dislike for certain teams, and I get that sense from veteran leadership.”

Playing against your most loathed rival with first place in the division on the line would certainly add an extra spice to a normal week of preparation, but according to wide receiver Jason Avant, the Eagles are never lacking for motivation.

“You’re always excited, and when you play against the Cowboys you get more excited,” said Avant, who has been with the team since 2006. “With that being said, if a week goes by in the National Football League and it takes you playing the Dallas Cowboys to get you motivated, you’re playing the wrong sport. Competing at this level, knowing that there are people playing at this level and that there are guys on the couch wishing that they could do what you do, that should give you enough juice to go out there and play each Sunday. From that perspective, each game is really important but with Dallas you get a little bit of sugar on top.”

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