Friday, September 12, 2008

Dallas Week: I can FEEL your ANGER!

The NFL, in it's infinite wisdom, has given us a gift from the scheduling gods on Week 2 this year. A Monday night tilt between our Eagles and the hated Dallas Cowboys.

Furthering this gift? The fact that some on the Cowboys, such as Pacman Jones and Terrell Owens cannot keep their mouths shut and are feeding the Eagles and their fans some good bulletin board material. Not helping matters, is Tony Romo's girlfriend, who informed an Eagles fan in a live performance for "Good Morning America" that the Cowboys would kick the Eagles' butts next week.

Yes, Eagle fans......Let the hatred flow! This is "Cowboy Week"! It's practically a local city ordinance to actively hate the self-styled "Ammurica's Team" this week.

For those of you that are new, "Cowboy Week" is the week leading up to the game versus the hated Dallas Cowboys. It features a build-up of all the vitriol Eagle fans have held for the team of guys who wear stars on their helmets. This hatred of the Cowboys can go all the way back to the sixties for the long time fan. The most oft-quoted incident from the old-timers? The 1967 incident when Cowboy Lee Roy Jordan smashed Eagle halfback Timmy Brown's face with a forearm shiver, causing him to lose his teeth and the Eagles to lose their best weapon and the game.

As an Eagle fan growing up, I had a dislike for the Cowboys team, but it was more of something you just were supposed to do; kind of like the peer pressure of drinking your first beer. You just did it. After all, when I was coming of age following sports, in the late 70s, early 80s, the Eagles had begun beating the Cowboys. There was the Monday night game when Tony Franklin kicked the 59 yard field goal, the glorious 1980 NFC Championship game, and with Dick Vermeil holding down the fort, you could rest assured that the Eagles would not get kicked around by the Cowboys.

When Vermeil left, so did the recipe for beating Dallas, apparently. Until James "Buddy" Ryan came to town. Buddy was smart enough to tap into our insecurity about the Cowboys....he made it his number 1 priority to humiliate the Cowboys and we ate it up.

It is during this period, I can trace back to when my Dallas hatred became most vivid. It was during the 1987 NFL players strike, of all things. Buddy Ryan had no love for replacement football; he openly disdained it. That was a good "attytood" to have in a blue collar, union town like Philadelphia. It helped galvanize that 1987 team into becoming division winners in 1988.

During the course of the strike, several players, realizing they couldn't make due without the paycheck, began crossing the picket line. None on the Eagles, mind you. But on the hated Dallas Cowboys, many of their star players such as Danny White, Tony Dorsett, Too Tall Jones, and Randy White crossed the picket line and played in an October 11, 1987 replacement game against a team of replacement Eagles. As you could imagine, the Scott Tinsley-led Eagles were no match for the Scab Cowboys led by their regular stars and they lost 41 - 22. Losing to Dallas never goes over well here. Losing to a handful of Dallas stars while the Eagles fielded all replacement players took the insult to another level entirely. This was my personal ground zero for Cowboy hating.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one that didn't like it.

Buddy Ryan did not forget this indignity.

When the real players came back that year, the Eagles played the Cowboys their first week back on October 25, 1987. They were beating the Cowboys late in the game by a score of 30 - 20 and simply running out the clock, when suddenly, instead of taking a knee, QB Randall Cunningham attempted a long pass to Mike Quick that drew a pass interference call with very little time left. The Eagles went on to score on the next play and you knew that Buddy enjoyed pissing off Tom Landry as much, if not more, than we did.

Thanks to the following sources for refreshing my memory on some details: "The Great Philadelphia Fanbook" by Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano and "The Eagles Encyclopedia" by Ray Didinger.

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