Alumni Alley runs every week on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and features a former Eagle who writes about his time in Philadelphia and his perspective after his NFL career ended. This week: Mike Quick, who made five consecutive Pro Bowls in his Eagles career and is a member of the franchise's Hall of Fame. Quick teams with Merrill Reese on the Eagles Radio Network for the team's game broadcasts.
Sunday represents another installment in the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, one that is special in sports. It's something that a lot of young players, myself included when I started my career as an Eagle, learn to appreciate once they are involved in the game.
If you asked many of the players on the current roster how they felt about Dallas, you would probably get an answer similar to what you would get for any game, and most certainly for any NFC East game. It's important that the veterans on the team make the younger guys, over the course of time, appreciate what a game against Dallas means to the fans of this football team.
That's how it happened for me. The veterans told me when I was a rookie in 1982 that Dallas was the rivalry and that there were fans who truly believed that if we beat Dallas twice and lost every other game, we would still have had a successful season. I didn't quite get it until I was in the locker room before a game against Dallas and I saw how the veterans reacted, how serious they were, and how the level of intensity was just a bit higher than it was for other games.
I had heard prior to that about the "hated" Cowboys, but it didn't really stick with me until that moment. I saw how Ron Jaworski and Harold Carmichael and Jerry Robinson had something against the Cowboys. They truly did not like Dallas. They knew what the rivalry meant for the City. I remember coming out of the tunnel for my first Eagles-Cowboys game and looking up and Harold had these big tears coming out of his eyes. He was ready to play an emotional game.
Why do the fans hate the Cowboys so much? I know the fans always want to beat Dallas and they want Dallas to lose every week, no matter who the Cowboys play. I think players over the years resented how much attention the Cowboys received, how the "America's Team" nickname stuck with Dallas. They used to talk about how the stadium had a big hole in the ceiling so that "God could look down on his favorite team." Really? Give me a break!
Fans constantly reminded me when I played, and even now, how much they hate the Cowboys and how important it is for the Eagles to beat Dallas. It's pretty extraordinary.
I was involved in one of the memorable moments in the rivalry, a play that incited the passion for these games. We had returned from the players' strike in 1987 and head coach Buddy Ryan was seething over a game during the strike in which he felt Dallas and head coach Tom Landry had run up the score on us. So, we were leading by 10 points with time winding down and Buddy called for us to make a statement. Instead of kneeling down and letting the clock run out, Randall Cunningham threw a pass to me in the end zone and the Cowboys were penalized for pass interference. We got the ball at the 1-yard line and scored a touchdown.
Boy, did that take the rivalry to another level! I thought it was really cool then, and I feel the same way now. Buddy didn't like the Cowboys, and he wanted to take it to them. He wanted to rub it in their faces, and it worked, and it added another chapter to this rivalry.
I'm not sure Chip Kelly has a full appreciation for the rivalry quite yet. He hasn't been through the game, the experience. The veterans on this team will make sure to let the newest Eagles know what this game means, and the fans will add some extra intensity on Sunday. Chip is going to get it. He will totally understand by the end of the day on Sunday what it truly means when the Eagles and Cowboys get together.