The Week 14 Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team NFC East matchup brought many things you’d expect to see in a rivalry week. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy all but guaranteed a win. Washington head coach Ron Rivera chipped back and said that wasn’t important. Several players admitted that both teams hate each other. Half of the stadium was filled with Cowboys fans. So on and so forth.
What we didn’t expect to see in a mostly burgundy-and-gold-covered FedExField were four, bright white and navy blue “COWBOYS” benches on the visitor’s sideline – sparking what we like to call BenchGate.
According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, when the Seattle Seahawks played at FedExField in Week 12, the team had several issues with the heated benches provided by Washington. The benches apparently went out several times during the game. The Seahawks tipped general manager Jerry Jones, and just a few days later, the owner had brand new benches made and sent to the stadium. I guess Jones wanted in on the drama.
Jones partnered with a Cleveland company called Dragon Seats to have the benches made. The vendor makes benches for several NFL teams, and this isn’t even the first time they’ve provided benches for the away team (they did so for the Ravens in Buffalo during the playoffs last year).
The COO of Dragon Seats, Franklin Floyd, even threw some shade at Washington when confirming the story with USA Today Sports. Floyd said his company did service the benches at FedExField, but the benches were estimated to be “more than ten years old.” Floyd went on to say his company was excited to bring his “newest and best” branded benches to the stadium.
Players were even asked about BenchGate in post-game interviews. Both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were happy with Floyd’s work. Who knows? Maybe those warm benches are what got the defense fired up in the contest. Or, maybe they are the reason Prescott is now being put on the hot seat for his not-so-great play lately? Temperature puns aside, you have to imagine that Mr. Jones had a part in deciding to make these benches obnoxiously obvious and far from subtle. Oh, Jerry.
But to Rivera, BenchGate is all just part of the “mind games” he warned his players to avoid when taking on the Cowboys.
Ron Rivera responds to Cowboys bringing their benches and doesn’t deny he won’t return the favor.
Even though he initially told players in a meeting last week that he didn’t want his team to fall for any psychological tactics employed by the Cowboys, I think Rivera is slowly starting to realize he has to get on board with the shenanigans. With his team sitting at 6-7, it might be wise for Washington to play into the rivalry games, too. His sly response to being asked if he plans on bringing his own benches to Dallas proves just that.
However, given the fact that everything from pipes bursting and pouring sewage onto fans to sprinklers going off on the field while reporters tried to record news hits has already happened in that place, I wouldn’t trust bringing anything from that stadium to the Lone Star State.
The Cowboys have the upper hand in this revamped rivalry with their 27-20 victory in the first matchup. The two teams will meet up again at AT&T Stadium in just two weeks. Who knows what other drama will heat up until then. Oh, how we love a good ol’ sports rivalry.