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The Rivalry: It's Real, And It's So Much Fun

Trey Burton signed with the Eagles as a rookie free agent in 2014, happy to have a home in the NFL and not aware of the intensity of the fans.

"It was immediately after I signed that my social media blew up and the fans told me all about the way they felt about the Dallas Cowboys. I can't repeat some of the language they used," he said, laughing. "You learn right away about this rivalry."

Eagles-Cowboys is renewed on Sunday night in Arlington, Texas. It's a rivalry that started in 1960, with Dallas holding a 65-51 advantage in the series. The dislike for each other became a thing in 1966 when the Cowboys took a cheap shot at Eagles running back Timmy Brown, and then went off the charts when Dallas proclaimed itself "America's Team" in the 1970s and, well, we don't have to go into all of the details about this series.

Eagles fans have long put Dallas No. 1 on its archenemy list. Dallas fans probably list Washington as their No. 1 rival, but there is certainly no love for the Eagles. These are bitter NFC East rivals that always play fierce, physical games, no matter what the standings say.

And for the players who are new to the Eagles' roster, one of the early things they learn when they meet fans, talk to the media, and get a general sense of what's important around here, is that Dallas is the enemy.

In a big, big way.

"Yeah, you know you hear it from everybody," defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said. "Beat Dallas. The fans, I learned very quickly, can't stand the Cowboys."

Players are conditioned to follow the mantra that "every game is the same" and to treat each with ultimate urgency and focus. Understood. But these circumstances, when the Eagles and Cowboys meet twice each regular season, take on different levels based on the reaction from the fans and the media.

It can be a circus, all fun, gearing up for the rivalry's next game.

"We don't let that impact us, but you can definitely feel it when you're out among the fans and people outside this building," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It's always a fun environment. We absolutely know how much it means to the fans."

The Otho Davis Scholarship Foundation Dinner on Tuesday night in Philadelphia based its 19th Annual Awards presentation of 50 Years of Fury of the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, and among the impassioned former players to speak were linebackers Seth Joyner and Bill Bergey.

They brought the house down with tales of their memories of the series and their continued feelings toward the Cowboys.

"I've been told I have two minutes to speak," Joyner began, "but I have a problem with that. How can I talk about how much I hate the Cowboys in only two minutes? I need a lot more time than that."

And then Joyner explained, with great force, how he felt.

"The arrogance of their organization," Joyner said, "has always been something I've found disgusting."

The emotion is not as pronounced in today's locker room as the Eagles get ready for Sunday night's game, but the message is clear: The Eagles regard Dallas as a hurdle on the team's path to finishing the season strong. There is a division title to win, first and foremost, and beating Dallas on Sunday night would give the Eagles a vise grip on the NFC East.

"It's a great rivalry and I love the way the fans feel because we feel the same way," linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "They're our division rival. I don't know about all that other stuff, but they are a division rival. That is really big right there. I love the way the fans feel about the Cowboys. You can feel the fire."


  had the pleasure of being in Philadelphia when he was selected, so he learned instantly how the fans felt about Dallas back in April.

"One of the first things people said to me was, and not in these words, but 'Beat Dallas. Whatever you do, beat Dallas.' I felt it right away," Barnett said shortly after being drafted. "That makes it more fun. It's like a college rivalry. Beating the Cowboys is way up high on these fans' list."

Yeah, you might say that. AT&T Stadium on Sunday night will have a sizeable contingent of Eagles fans to cheer on their favorite team, which has a 5-4 record in Arlington against the Cowboys. If you are watching on television or listening on the radio, you are likely to hear chants of "E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES" throughout the night. And if things go the Eagles' way and Dallas fans bail, it's going to be an all-out Midnight Green Eagles party.

"I grew up in the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry, so I knew about this long ago," said rookie running back Corey Clement, a native of Glassboro, New Jersey. "It's always been fun. Now, to be a part of it, it's a crazy feeling. I know what the fans are going to be like watching in front of their televisions because I was one of those fans. I know how much the fans hate Dallas. I know that's a strong word, but it's true. That's how they feel about it.

"I'm glad it's happening now, on this stage. For me, to be out there in an Eagles-Cowboys game on national television, I just have to pinch myself. It's going to be so much fun."

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