There are polls every week in Cowboys Nation. In Fan blog sites like The Landry Hat and others, the questions are asked: ‘Which team is the Dallas Cowboys biggest rival‘ or ‘What team is the most hated by Dallas Cowboys fans’. The reason we’re asked all the time to choose a top rival is because the Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team and we have a lot of them.
Here are a few:
The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys established themselves as rivals by continually meeting in some of the biggest games. Remember the Ice Bowl? Dallas lost to Green Bay two years in a row in the NFL championship game. The winner went on to play the AFL representative in the first ever SuperBowl I and II. The Cowboys got back at them in the early 90’s by continually beating Green Bay in the playoffs on our way to the SuperBowl.
Speaking of SuperBowls, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys have met three times in the big game. Because of their often mirrored success in opposing Conferences, they are rivals on the field and in popularity in the League.
The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas cowboys developed into rivals for a similar reason, continually meeting in the playoffs.
Some teams worthy of honorable mention as rivals are: The Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings.
The other teams in the NFC East are natural rivals for obvious reasons. The intensity in which these teams played each other established them as such big draws that when the NFL re-aligned, they kept these teams together. Only the St Louis/Arizona Cardinals were moved out because they weren’t always competitive with the Beasts of the East. (Still, playing the Arizona Cardinals is a big deal and draws many fans.) Geographically, Dallas is not even close to belonging in the NFC East, yet there they are. Because of the strong rivalries, the Cowboys were the odd team in. (We should be in the NFC West. Dallas is closer to the other teams in the West than the St Louis Rams. OK, while I’m re-aligning, in the AFC, the Colts should be in the North, the Ravens in the East, and the Dolphins in the South. There! I feel much better now) Anyway, back to the NFC East rivals.
Every team in the East is a storied franchise, the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins (with the Eagles the least so). Also, each team has had several long runs as dominant teams in the NFL. For the longest time, and unfortunately to a large degree because of the names ‘Cowboys’ and ‘Redskins’, the Washington Redskins were our biggest rivals in the group. That kinda changed in the mid to late 80’s when the Dallas Cowboys floundered. The NY Giants became much bigger rivals of the Redskins during that time, and arguably that continues today. The Philadelphia Eagles, however, have been the most dominant NFC East team over the last 10 years or so. Therefore, they have been bigger rivals of the other teams in that span. When teams play each other twice a year, many other factors come in to play when choosing the biggest rival and even more-so when they meet for that third time in a year in the playoffs. Some of those factors have to do with things that surround the teams, not just the play on the field. Those last factors, the ones surrounding the teams, is what makes the pick for biggest rival, most hated team so easy.
Its not the Redskins. Even though I don’t know anyone who likes Joe Theismann, one player does not make a most hated rivalry. The history of bad blood is mostly just that — history. We do always play each-other tough no matter our record, but the hatred is mostly hype.
Its not the NY Giants either. Except for Justin Tuck’s open hatred of the Dallas Cowboys, there’s not much there. We shared Coach Parcells. I didn’t like Tiki Barber, but neither did the Giants themselves. Eli Manning constantly reminds me I’m fine with Tony Romo. I might be alone on this, but I actually like Michael Strahan as a player and a host on FOX. No; the NY Giants aren’t our biggest rivals. The Giants biggest rivals are the Redskins and themselves.
Its the Philadelphia Eagles, and its not even close.
Many, on the field, incidents have contributed to this rivalry, but its the fans that give them the hated edge. The Eagles fans are the worst; they are worse than Raiders fans, and thats sayin something! The odd thing is, most fans take on the bravado or character of the team they root for. In Philly, the Eagles do the opposite. The fans run the show there, and by not making a concerted effort to change the vile culture of their fans, they appear to embrace it, real or not, and make that uncivil meanness part of their manufactured swagger. For me, personally, the hatred I have for the Philadelphia Eagles stems from this dynamic. In particular, one incident stands out. Most Cowboys fans know the incident well: The night Michael Irvin laid on the Veteran’s Stadium field with a broken neck in 1999. Remember? As soon as the fans heard he was seriously hurt, they cheered. Loudly. Wow!
Check out the link below to Sports Illustrated’s report on the City of Brotherly Love fans at the time:
You say let bygones be bygones but when you are a witness to something like that, it is seared in your mind.
The Eagles are a perennially great team. They have great players that match up well with the Cowboys. For the last couple years its been us or them when trying to reach the playoffs. Those factors alone make the Eagles our current biggest rivals. But we don’t just play the Eagles, we play the Philadelphia Eagles. The city and the team cannot be separated (unless the Eagles relocate). Every time we play them, I’m reminded they represent the fans that pelt Santa Claus with snowballs and cheer Michael Irvin’s spinal injury, and why the Philadelphia Eagles are, in my opinion, our most hated rivals. We all know Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly Love, but for football fans on Sunday’s, its the City of Brotherly Love, my ass!