Well, it’s finally here, and the zanies and crazies will be out in force this evening as our beloved Philadelphia Eagles pro football team takes on the hated Dallas Cowboys here in Philly down at Lincoln Financial Field.
The game is scheduled to be televised as the Sunday Night Football broadcast, and the nation should get quite a treat.
This holiday comes around approximately twice per season, once here in Philly, and once down in ‘Big D’, and at least here in the City of Brotherly Love the match-ups are easily among the most anticipated sporting events of the season, no matter how either team is faring that particular year.
For me, the Cowboy-hate goes back a long ways, to the 1970’s-era Dallas team that featured the stoic Tom Landry pacing the sidelines as head coach, his little hat poised atop his head in all kinds of weather.
That team had great players over the years like quarterback Roger Staubach, running back Tony Dorsett, wide receiver Drew Pearson, and a strong defense led by guys like Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Harvey Martin, and Randy White.
Those Cowboys were always good, always at or near the top of the same NFC East Division in which our Eagles were competing. Unfortunately, most years the Birds weren’t very much competition.
That changed briefly when the Eagles hired a dynamic, energetic, brilliant young coach named Dick Vermeil, who finally led the Eagles past Dallas in one of the most memorable football games in local history, a 20-7 victory in the 1980 NFC Championship game that resulted in the team’s first-ever Super Bowl berth.
But even that was short-lived. Vermiel’s frenetic pace burned him out, and the team slid again. Not until Buddy Ryan came in to coach the team a decade later would they return to beating up on the Cowboys.
That rivalry heated into the infamous “Bounty Bowl” games of 1989, in which Dallas accused Ryan of putting out bounties on several of their players. The Eagles won both match-ups in classic style.
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In the first game, it was the annual Dallas tradition of playing on Turkey Day. The Birds totally dominated, handing the Cowboys their only shutout ever on the holiday by a 27-0 final down in Dallas.
In the eagerly anticipated rematch weeks later at old Veteran’s Stadium, the Birds again triumphed by 20-10 in a game that became famous for a pre-game snowfall that allowed for snowball projectiles to be formed by the fans and tossed regularly at Dallas players.
Alas, the Cowboys weathered that storm, and with an influx of new young playes, they recovered from that devastating ’89 season to become the NFL’s Team of the 90’s, winning three Super Bowls behind the trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.
As the decade drew to a close, the Eagles began to end their own losing string, hiring a brilliant head coach in Andy Reid, who drafted a talented young signal-caller named Donovan McNabb.
As the new millenium dawned, the Birds went on a streak of winning the NFC East for 6 out of 7 seasons, going to and nearly winning the Super Bowl in 2004 with mercurial wide receiver Terrell Owens leading the way.
Of course, as Eagles-Cowboys lore would have it, Owens fell out of favor in Philly as he made a fool and a spectacle of himself, and the Birds cut him loose. He signed with, where else, Dallas.
His first return last year was nothing short of a circus in Philly, and the fans left satisfied with Dallas and Terrell demoralized, and the Eagles again won the NFC East crown.
This time around it’s Dallas in the catbird seat. The Boys are sitting pretty atop the NFC East standings at 6-1, while the Eagles fight for their playoff lives at 3-4.
The Birds have not been as bad as their record, they could just as easily be 5-2 right now, and with this game being played here in Philly my bet is that we have yet another rip-roaring Eagles-Cowboys tilt on our hands tonight.
However this particular game plays out, one thing is certain, and will remain true forever…..Dallas Sucks!