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The Cowboys Eagles rivalry: why is everybody so fired up?

Ever wonder what's up with the Cowboys Eagles rivalry? Find out the what and why in time for this Monday's game.

Ever wonder what's up with the Cowboys Eagles rivalry? Find out the what and why in time for this Monday's game.

The Washington Football Team already beat the New York Giants in this NFL season’s first NFC East matchup, but the de facto first test for control of the division comes this Monday night, when the Philadelphia Eagles meet the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington for the latest in one of the league’s most vitriolic rivalries.

Both teams start the season at 1-1 after Dallas beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday and the Eagles lost in San Francisco. Last season under new head coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys lost the first game and won the second against the Eagles in what was a miserable season for all four teams in the NFC East. With a new head coach in Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia will look to beat its chief division foe on Monday for the first time during a new coaching era after the team parted ways last season from the first head coach to win the team a Super Bowl.

So much is yet to be seen in the Cowboys Eagles rivalry moving forward, but since the teams first played each other in September 1960, a distinctive and sometimes extreme form of sportsmanship has emerged between the two fanbases.

“The Cowboys and Eagles rivalry might be the last great rivalry in NFL football,” says Dallas sports journalist Chris Arnold in VICE TV’s "Dark Side of Football" documentary series.

What's the deal with the Cowboys Eagles rivalry? Learn more about this historic rivalry in time for this Monday's game!
What's the deal with the Cowboys Eagles rivalry? | Courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys website

If you haven’t seen the series, you can find it on Hulu, but picture this: the Cowboys-Eagles episode is about fans in Philadelphia having a long history of lashing out, often violently, against other NFL fans, particularly those who support the Dallas Cowboys. And that may not come as a surprise to fans who know about the time Eagles fans cheered as Cowboys legend Michael Irvin was hauled off the football field at Philly's old Veterans Stadium after suffering from a critical neck injury.

Joining Arnold and other players who played for the two teams over the years, Philly sports columnist Marcus Hayes also sits for the documentary. He characterizes the Cowboys Eagles rivalry in part through a popular culture lens: you have the rich, entitled people as depicted in the TV series “Dallas” versus the rough and scrappy Philadelphians embodied by Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky.”

(Watch top 10 moments in the rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles from NFL Throwback.)

Sports Illustrated’s rundown of the Cowboys Eagles rivalry says it is as bitter as any in the NFL. Back when Frisco was mostly pastures, the Cowboys won football games in prolific fashion, ushering the team to “America’s team” status in the in 1970s as the team battered the Eagles game after game. The Star in Frisco calls attention to how the Cowboys franchise grew into the most highly valued sports franchise in the world.

Where the Eagles lacked in on-field superiority last century, fans made up for it with hostility. In the shadow of the Cowboys’ success, Eagles fans show a particular disdain for Cowboys fans, almost as if the Cowboys is as important as cheering for a team at all. As the popular Bleeding Green Nation sports blog wrote this week, “‘Dallas Sucks’ is the collective id for Eagles fans.”

“Part of the the fun is just hating on the most famous and historically successful team in every sport,” the author wrote.

Storylines of this bitterness include the infamous Bounty Bowl games during the 1989 season. In scandal, after a 27-0 loss, the Cowboys coaching staff accused Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan of offering to pay money to players for injuring Cowboys players. The Eagles won the next matchup as well, with Philly fans at the December game pelting Cowboys players and coaches with snow, ice and other objects.

While the Cowboys won five Super Bowls last century, and the Eagles have only one Super Bowl win, Dallas has not even made it to an NFC Championship playoff game in more than 25 years. The Eagles have and advanced to the Super Bowl twice since then, winning in 2018.

Dallas leads the overall series 70-54. The Cowboys are favored to win this matchup on Monday. The team is once again in the national spotlight after coming out of a preseason in which it was featured on HBO's ''Hard Knocks."

During a team practice in Frisco last week, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a foot injury that is expected to sideline him for several weeks. The good news for the team is expecting defensive end Randy Gregory to play against the Eagles after sitting out for COVID protocols.

For the Eagles, two starters on both sides of the line of scrimmage are already sidelined with injuries. The Eagles placed defensive end Brandon Graham and right guard Brandon Brooks on injured reserve Tuesday, the team announced Tuesday evening.

Make sure you're keeping up with the current season of Hard Knocks, featuring the Dallas Cowboys!