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Five Reasons Philadelphia Eagles Fans Hate the Dallas Cowboys: Fan Perspective
It's been called a one-sided rivalry. If asked, the people of Dallas/Fort Worth would instantly tell you that their biggest rival in football is the Washington Redskins. Not the Philadelphia Eagles. Nationally, it makes sense for the Eagles and the New York Giants to ban together in loathesome harmony. And don't get me wrong, fans of those two teams don't exactly sit together peacefully at tailgate parties. The reality is that the Giant/Eagle rivalry is geographical. It's a New York vs. Philadelphia thing. It's Philadelphians' constant battle to get out from under big brother's shadow. The hatred of the Cowboys is more deeply rooted.
Philadelphia's hatred of the Cowboys can not be summed up in a sentence, although I think the closest effort came from an old NFL Films and John Facenda line that seems to transcend time, no matter the state of either franchise:
"The Eagles were like the barbarians at the gates of Rome. The Cowboys were Rome."
Over the years, the rivalry has manifested itself in Philadelphia through different generations of players and fans, as well as different storylines. From the SCAB game lies of Tom Landry in '87 to Randall Cunningham's fake kneel down, from the Bounty Bowls to Jimmy Johnson getting pelted with snowballs, from Michael Irvin writhing on the field in pain while Deion Sanders prayed to the heavens above him (which is what was being booed) to Keith Brooking's(notes) comments following the final Dallas beatdown of the Birds in '09, there is always a back story. There's always a neverending box of fuses ready to be lit.
While Dallas may look upon the Eagles as a hated division rival, let's try and explain to the people of that fair metropolis as well as the nation, why we in Philadelphia hate the Dallas Cowboys to levels that seem to perplex people, and in the process, crank up the Philadelphia fan base for what could be a season-killing or season-saving game Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Here are my five reasons why Philadelphia hates the Cowgirls, in order from five to one.
5. The Cowboy Heirarchy
It's hard not to have respect for Tom Landry. He was smooth, elegant, stoic yet brazen. His coaching greatness is undeniable. Yet, in Philly, during years of destitute football where a veritable cornucopia of incompetence coached the franchise, save for Dick Vermeil, the anger at our own organization's inability to find a Landry made us hate Tom Landry.
Once Jerry Jones took over and inexplicably fired Landry, bringing in a cast of cartoon characters like Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer to lead his team, Philly fans got angry that we now had to hear these Cowboy coaches, let alone see them everywhere. You hated Landry because it was simply hard to hate Landry. When the Jerry Jones circus came to town, it changed the dynamic. He made his buddies from college his coaches and fired the venerable Tex Schramm to make himself the general manager. It was the pomposity of the Dallas organization rocketed to new heights.
People around Philly like owners who fork up the money and stay in their boxes. There's a system to professional sports and we respect it. To Philadelphians, Jerry Jones bought a football franchise because he was a rich, ex-football player who couldn't climb to the upper echelons of the NFL on the field either playing or coaching, so he bought himself the limelight and followed it around like a puppy. It seems, to us, pathetic, yet aggravating because he has garnered success in his tenure with this unorthodox method.
4.) Jealousy Rears Its Head
To be fair, to not include the term jealousy in the explanation of Eagles fans' hatred of the Cowboys would be irresponsible. The Eagles have been around since 1933. They have won three NFL Championships, but none since 1960. Zero Super Bowls.
The Cowboys franchise was erected from the fiery lava of hell in 1960. They have won five Super Bowls and eight NFC Championships.
The Eagles won a championship the year Dallas was formed. We haven't won one since! To put it in baseball terms, the Birds are roped into the Curse of the Cowboy. To not admit jealousy of the facts above is slightly ludicrous, and historically ignorant.
3.) The Players
Philadelphia's hatred of certain Cowboy players throughout history can be broken down a couple of ways. Sometimes fans hate players for their personalities. Sometimes fans hate players because they are so good you know you are in for a problem each time you see them. Sometimes you hate them because you would hate them on any other team but your own. Sometimes you hate them because they are a little too pristine, a little too pretty for a blue collar town's taste. We talk about the players on our own teams much the same way, but when you are falling into one of these categories and you play for a heated rival, the stakes of hatred go way up.
The first hated Cowboy was most likely linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, who's crushing hit on Harold Carmichel put him out of a game and cost him his 127 consecutive games with a catch streak. But there are too many to name them all. The Cowboys of the 70s had smooth and pretty players like Drew Pearson, great players like Roger Staubach, and players we just wish we had like Ed "Too Tall" Jones. In the 80s, Danny White was way too pretty and Everson Walls was around the football way too often. In the 90s, as the football culture changed, the Cowboys offered up players like Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, who Philadelphians hated as much for who they were and what they represented as much as for their excessive talents on the field.
No matter why you hated any individual Cowboy player, you hated them more because the media has always loved putting the Cowboys center stage, and the bigger the ego on a player wearing the star on their helmet, the more he is thrown in your face. And that brings us to…
2.) The Hollywood Cowboys
They were called, and I suppose still are in some archaic circles, America's Team. That name came from a time where disco was all the rage, drugs were like candy, and the show was as important as the game itself. Give the Cowboys credit, they had the conservative coach, but they marketed those 70s teams with Hollywood flare, and as the rivalry on the field between the Eagles and Cowboys grew in the late 70s and early 80s, that entire bravado and style flew in the face of every blue collar Philadelphian from South Philly to the Great Northeast.
Their symbol, the star, was representative of the "Lone Star" state of Texas. In Texas, it spoke to the rich tradition of the state's people, but everywhere else it became a symbol of the glitz and glamour that encapsulated the Dallas Cowboy's rise in NFL stature. The symbol became so loathed in Philadelphia that any star I saw as a child made me sick. I couldn't understand as a little kid why the Jewish people would put all their eggs in the Cowboy basket by mimicking their symbol. I thought it brazen of the Cowboys to take a part of our nation's flag and call it their own. I thought the star was why they were called America's Team. The ignorance of youth is bliss, I suppose.
Texas Stadium had a hole in the roof. Cowboy fans said it was so God could watch. Eagle fans would tell you it was because even God needed a toilet.
5.) Cowboy Fans Who Have Never Been to Dallas
The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title this year. The Texas Rangers, who play just down the road from Big D, are one win away from their first World Series title as we look to Game 6 this October 27, 2011. I congratulate Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs. I wish Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers the best of luck. As far as I'm concerned, couldn't happen to a nicer group of fans and a nicer town. See, I wouldn't know. I've never been there. Good, solid, salt of the Earth Texan people who live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and root for their team with their hearts on their sleeves are not the people who Philadelphia Eagle fans hate. We believe, as a general philosophy, that your town is your extended family. You're a piece of it. The very fabric of who you are contains a large piece that stems from where you are from. That goes for anybody.
Like many northeastern cities, Philly is blue collar. We take care of our own and go about the daily grind with passion, whether it's arguing with a neighbor about the latest pair of Chuck Taylor's hanging up on the telephone poll on your block, or supporting our sports teams. Everywhere in this country, though, there are people who for some reason feel the need to attach themselves to something bigger, something better. Whether that need is born out of a lack of anything to feel pride about in their own lives, or whether they need to make themselves the center of attention because simply, they're @**holes, is beyond me.
When the Cowboys came to prominence, the number of people who jumped on the bandwagon throughout this country that had no reason to get behind that team other than they were winning is unlike any other in the history of sports. Philadelphia fans will call every one of you a phony to your face, because you are. And I'm not talking about the fan whose father grew up there and reared his child to root for that team. There's a difference. Growing up a kid and thinking the star was cool is not good enough. In fact, it's asinine.
So, if that's our general philosophy on anyone, anywhere that jumped on the Dallas bandwagon, imagine our philosophy on people who live IN Philadelphia and chose to go down that road. They carry it like a medal they won with the arrogance of someone who has actually done something more than sell out. That's what we hate. That's where the normal dislike for a division rival turns to repugnance. It's got nothing to do with the city of Dallas. It has much to do with trying to police our own, because prideful people like to live amongst prideful people.
I came up with a way to describe a Philadelphian, born and bred, whose generational ties go back to the same old neighborhoods, who outwardly roots for the Dallas Cowboys "because they just do."
Imagine growing up in a house with a family who loved you, but times were often tough. There may have been arguments. There may have been verbal abuse. Money was tight. One day a new neighbor moves in. They gut the house next door to yours and bring in all new furniture, flatscreen TVs, marble countertops in the kitchen. Come the summer when your family is scraping together a few bucks for an overnight trip to Wildwood at the Jersey Shore, they're getting ready to go to Cabo because who needs to go to the shore for vacation when you own a shore house. One day, you decide you've had enough. You know there's an extra room in that house next door and you know that the people living there will take you in. You don't have the intestinal fortitude to stick it out with your family who loves you, to see through the hard times knowing that the good times down the road will be all the better because you persevered. No, you don't have the guts for that. You gather your things, march right up to your parents and siblings and say, "Go (blank) yourself." And you run.
That's a Cowboys fan who was born and bred in Philadelphia. And THAT, is what we hate.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer and a Philadelphia sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.
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