Eagles-Cowboys rivalry is renewed


Friday, December 5th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ From Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman, Tom Landry to Jimmy Johnson, Tex Schramm to Jerry Jones, fans of the Philadelphia Eagles have always hated the Dallas Cowboys more than any other franchise.

Now that Dallas is winning again after three straight 5-11 seasons, Eagles fans have more reason to despise the Cowboys.

The notorious Philly boobirds will be at a fever pitch Sunday when the Cowboys (8-4) play the Eagles (9-3) for first place in the NFC East.

``Philly fans just hate people in general,'' left guard John Welbourn said. ``But they really hate Dallas.''

Everywhere players went this week, they've heard about the Cowboys. The significance of this game has renewed an intense rivalry.

``It's a big game for the city,'' defensive tackle Darwin Walker said. ``All the fans want to beat Dallas.''

For most Eagles fans, beating the Cowboys is second only to winning a Super Bowl. Of course, one reason for the fans' bitterness is the fact the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl and the Cowboys have won five.

``I hate everything about them, their uniforms, the ugly star on their helmet, their cheerleaders,'' longtime Eagles fan Mike Giunta said. ``They're not America's Team. Their fans are bandwagon jumpers.''

Eagles fans have a history of wild and rowdy behavior. No team brings out their venom more than the Cowboys.

In 1989, fans threw snowballs at Johnson, who was in his first season as Cowboys coach, during Philadelphia's 20-10 win. Current Gov. Ed Rendell later admitted he bet a fan $20 that the fan couldn't reach the field with his toss.

Four years ago, fans cheered the ambulance that drove Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin off the field after he went down with a career-ending neck injury.

But there have been some memorable moments during this rivalry, too.

The Eagles' biggest triumph at Veterans Stadium came in January 1981 when they beat the Cowboys 20-7 to advance to the Super Bowl for the only time in franchise history.

Few could forget the ``fourth-and-1'' game in 1995 when former Cowboys coach Barry Switzer ran Emmitt Smith into the line on consecutive plays late in the fourth quarter, only to get stopped both times as the Eagles went on to win 20-17.

In recent years, however, Eagles fans have been apathetic toward the Cowboys because of their poor record. While the Eagles have established themselves as a top team in the NFL, Dallas was rebuilding.

``It's hard to get hyped over beating the Cowboys when they stink,'' said Joseph Costa, a season-ticket holder.

The Eagles beat the Cowboys six straight times, before losing in Dallas two months ago. The winning streak started with a 13-10 win in 1999, when the Cowboys were 3-0. That was Andy Reid's first victory as the Eagles coach.

Now the Cowboys stand in the way of a third consecutive NFC East title for the Eagles. In a season where nothing less than a trip to the Super Bowl would be considered a success, beating the Cowboys and winning the division is the first step.