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The Love Of A Great Rivalry

The War of Words escalates the closer we get to Sunday, and I love every minute of it. And so do the players. There is something special about opening the 2011 regular-season home schedule against the Giants, the team north on the New Jersey Turnpike, the team that is geographically -- and maybe more than that -- the Eagles' most ardent rival.

It's Giants Week, and with that comes the requisite trash talking and the intensity and the drama. New York has done all of the talking -- see what Antrel Rolle has to say about covering DeSean Jackson -- and when the Eagles were served up the chance to volley some barbs back into the Giants' court, they declined.

"It adds a little fuel to the fire," said Jackson of the art of talking before a game. "But you still have to go out there on Sunday and perform and play, so I'm just looking forward to the opportunity, especially after last weekend. Losing on Sunday hurt us. I think everybody is excited to go out and redeem ourselves."

The Giants are suffering through an amazing rash of injuries, and they come into Lincoln Financial Field a wounded team. But that doesn't make any difference. New York is going to play an outstanding football game on Sunday. If the Eagles think they can slink by and play at a sub-par level, they're going to have a painful reminder of just how competitive the NFL is every week.

On any given Sunday ...

"It's a backyard rivalry. You've got the Philadelphia Eagles, we're in Philly and the fans are from this City and the entire area, including New Jersey," said defensive end Trent Cole. "We've got all of Jersey, too, I'd say. They've got the Meadowlands. It's a territorial rivalry with two teams that are extremely close to each other. That adds to the intensity of our games.

"There are no two spots for first place. There is only one team at the top."

Off the field, away from the game, the players have their friendships. Cole has spent time at the Pro Bowl with Osi Umenyiora. Asante Samuel knows plenty of the Giants from his trips to Honolulu.

There are exceptions when the blood boils over, like when running back LeSean McCoy got into his Twitter war with Umenyiora and wide receiver Steve Smith -- who, as an Eagle now, has been even-keeled and quiet all week with the New York media swarming him.

For the most part, though, the rivalry is a football thing, and it runs deep.

"The Giants are a special rival. It's a division game, there is a lot of longevity between the teams and as you can see we pretty much don't like each other when it comes to playing football," said Samuel. "We just like to compete and be the best in our division. It's more animated on the field than when we play other teams. It becomes no-holds barred. We fight, bite, scratch, whatever

"We all just want to win. On the field we don't like each other. The fans have a lot to do with it, too. They are intense about it, like we are."

Do teams really use "bulletin-board material," as has been the lore for so many years in the NFL? Some teams do, of course. Every player is aware of what the other teams say to reporters, or on Twitter, or in radio interviews or to friends on the train.

The rivalry is real, even if some of the pre-game comments aren't taken as seriously as we -- fans and media -- think they should be.

"I think all the trash talk is fun. It's funny," said Cole. "It's entertainment. I like when they trash talk. It's a little extra something for me going into the game."

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