Another sad Sunday without NFL football has come and gone. This one, however, didn’t pass by without a touch of drama in my household. As happens on many a wintry Sunday afternoon, yours truly ended up channel surfing my way to the place where NFL seasons go after they die – NFL Network. While they haven’t begun showing replays of the 2012 season games yet, the network was running a marathon of programs highlighting top 10 countdowns of everything from super bowls to team collapses and all things in between.
Much to my dismay, I found that the folks who put said shows together must be as bored as I was because they had actually compiled a Tebow top 10. Besides his off the field charitable work, even little old football fanatic me couldn’t come up with any one great thing Tim Tebow has done in his short NFL career to warrant such a tribute – much less a top 10 of them, so I promptly switched off the television and opted for folding laundry instead.
Later in the day, with clothes neatly put away and a box of leftover Valentine candy in hand, I headed back to the couch. Much to my delight, I found that the latest top 10 show featured quarterbacks from the 1970s. As expected, Captain Comeback himself, Roger Staubach, topped the list. Next up was a countdown of the all time biggest NFL rivalries and the day was suddenly looking up…but not so fast, my friends.
The Cowboys versus San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, made the list. So far so good. It was all down hill from there though, folks. When the Indianapolis Colts versus New England Patriots were included I should have changed the channel. I should have walked away. Then came the Cincinnati Bengals versus Cleveland Browns. They had to be kidding, right? But no, it only got worse. Why didn’t I leave? Didn’t the cat litter box need cleaning or something? It was like a train wreck that I couldn’t turn away from and then, at number one…the top of the list…none other than the New York Giants versus Philadelphia Eagles. That’s right, fellow football faithful, the biggest rivalry of all time in football, Dallas Cowboys versus Washington Redskins, didn’t even crack the top 10. What has the world come to? More importantly, who was the bozo who made up that list?
For that person, whoever he or she may be, indulge me as I recount the beginning of what has endured as one of the classic rivalries in all of sports:
Way back in 1958 the Dallas Cowboys were nothing more than a twinkle in Texas oilman Clint Murchsion’s eye. After three failed attempts to buy existing pro football franchises, including George Preston Marshall’s Washington Redskins, Murchison decided that the best way to bring professional football to the city of Dallas was to start his own team. He quickly won the support of the NFL expansion committee and was well on his way to making his dream into reality. All the NFL owners were in favor of bringing a new team into the league except for one. Marshall didn’t want to risk losing his fan base in the south and told the other owners he would not vote in favor of Murchison’s new team.
As fate would have it, Marshall had recently had a falling out with Barnee Breeskin, the director of the Redskin band who had penned the music to “Hail to the Redskins.” Marshall'[s wife had written the words to the Redskin anthem and it had become the centerpiece of Washington’s pregame and halftime festivities. Breeskin approached Murchison’s attorney about buying the rights to “Hail to the Redskins” and he agreed. While no one knows the particulars of the conversation that ensued between Marshall and Murchison, when the owners’ meeting rolled around, Marshall had a change of heart. He voted in favor of the addition of Murchison’s team. Marshall got his dreadful diddy back and the rest, as they say, is history.
As the years have passed, there have been countless great Cowboys/Redskins moments. Perhaps the most famous was the Thanksgiving Day game in 1974 when rookie quarterback Clint Longley led Dallas to a come from behind victory. Even when both teams are struggling, the two franchises manage to play like champions when they face each other. That was certainly the case in the 1989 season when the Cowboy’s only win came against the Redskins.
With Robert Griffin III in D.C., things between the Cowboys and Redskins are sure to be interesting when the 2013 season kicks off. Let’s hope the folks at NFL Network take notice.