GAME TIME 1:00
GAME TEMP 38˚
DISCLAIMER ï¿½ If you happen to be a Cowboys fan (you probably donï¿½t read this column anyway), you may not like most of what is hereï¿½You can click away if you like. We warned you.
We donï¿½t like you. You donï¿½t like us ï¿½ itï¿½s better that way. Weï¿½ve written those words before in this column, but this is really when those words ring their truest.
There are some awesome rivalries in the NFL. The Packers/Bears has the great long history of and is the oldest current rivalry. The Rams/Niners , Vikings/Packers, Steelers/Browns ï¿½the list goes on and on. Within the NFC East, each game is really considered a rivalry game. The Eagles/Giants game and Cowboys/Redskins games are always heated battles, and no matter how good one team is compared to the other, any team can win on the days these teams play. If you hear the media talk about the NFC East, these are the Cowboys/Redskins and Eagles/Giants games are the games that the teams get most pumped up for, those are the true NFC East rivalries for the players. The fans, however, are a different matterï¿½
Itï¿½s our recollection that the Eagles were usually seen as nothing more than a nuisance to the Cowboys fans who actually reside in Dallas. At least this is what a morning talk guy from Dallas (the next couple of paragraphs are based on our recollection of this conversation, so sue us if itï¿½s not accurate) said when the Philadelphia Sports talk morning show called him some time in the late 90s. The Cowboys fans saw their rivals as the Redskins, the Giants and Eagles ï¿½ in that order. Back when the Cardinals were in the NFC East, they were always a complete afterthought for all 99.99% of the fans of other NFC East teams.
Why should the Cowboys fans (again, from Dallas ï¿½ weï¿½ll get to the fans from other areas of the country later) take the Eagles seriously? The Eagles never won a Super Bowl, yes – the Eagles have won NFL Championships, but never in a Super Bowl. From 1980-1996, the NFC East had represented the NFC in the Super Bowl 10 times. The Eagles only made it once, and while the Eagles were very good for some of that period, they never made it back to the big game. So, for the longest time ï¿½ Cowboys fans focused mostly on other teams, and considered them their true rivals.
Since the mid 70s – most Eagles fans, however, always considered the Cowboys their number one rivals (older Eagles fans, this is based solely on our recollections, if we got this wrong ï¿½ sorry). This is for a number of reasons:
They have 5 NFL Championships, the Eagles have 3 (none in the Super Bowl era), of course this grew after the Jimmy Johnson era. This envy is probably the second biggest reason Eagles fans donï¿½t like the Cowboys.
Various slights (both real and perceived) that happen when two teams play each other often enough. Fans of any team can rattle off things that another team ï¿½didï¿½ to their favorite team.
The marketing gimmick that pronounced the Cowboys ‘Americaï¿½sTeamï¿½ . In some ways, this moniker was very appropriate, as fans from other NFL cities began rooting for the Cowboys after their winning eras in the 70s and again in the 90s. Just about anyone who was not a fan of the Cowboys truly despised this moniker. How dare any team declare themselves ï¿½Americaï¿½s Teamï¿½? Braves ï¿½ weï¿½re looking at you too.
The righteousness that some Cowboys fans like to shroud themselves in. A lot of the fans of the Cowboys still do this. They somehow think their owners, coaches and players are better somehow than everyone elseï¿½s. Some fans still do this is after the Jimmy Johnson era of the Cowboys!!
The main reason that most Eagles fans (and perhaps fans of other teams too) despise the Cowboys so much has nothing to do with the team itself, it has to do with the teamï¿½s fans. Not the fans who live in the Texas/Oklahoma region ï¿½ mind you, but the rest of them. The bandwagon-hopping loudmouths who live in our very midst. These ï¿½fansï¿½ started rooting for the team for a combination of reasons mentioned above, and we talk about these people more in our ï¿½Final Thoughtsï¿½ section belowï¿½But for now just know that these people are the biggest reason (by far) most Eagles fans can not stand the Cowboys. These ï¿½fansï¿½ also yap when their team is doing well, but 99% of them shut up when things arenï¿½t going so well. Like a pack of cicadas whose clocks are off, these Band Wagon Fans have been mostly silent these past 3 or 4 years.
For the longest time, the level of dislike was maintained almost exclusively by Eagles fans. We hated the Cowboys, and the Cowboys fans didnï¿½t care about us that much. That has changed. The last time the Cowboys won a championship was 1996, and while that is certainly much closer to present day then the last time the Eagles won ï¿½ it seems further and further away each day. The Eagles have owned this division the last four years, while the Cowboys have simply not been in the Eaglesï¿½ class for a while now. Somehow, the dynamic seems to have changed the past few years. Cowboys fans really donï¿½t like us, not one bit.
We donï¿½t think this is because there are a bunch of Eagles fans in Dallas, we know thatï¿½s not true (see the main reason the Eagles donï¿½t like the Cowboys). Most likely, that green monster Envy is starting to dig under their skin. Despite the Cowboysï¿½ trip to the playoffs last year, things have been pretty bleak for the franchise for a while now, especially compared to their glory days. Yes, they did have a 1-15 season not too long ago, but they had a young team that was going to grow together. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. This is all new to most Cowboys fans, who hopped on the bandwagon back in the day.
Another reason the Cowboys fans donï¿½t like us Eagles fans, is the reputation we have. Most of the stuff you hear is true about going to Eagles games. While there are also a bunch of urban legends about some things that happened at the Vet, the basic moral is true ï¿½ we donï¿½t like fans of other teams. And while bad things happen at other stadiums, in other locales, we get beat up the worst about it.
If you happened to visit the Fantasysharks.com message boards last week, after the Saints beat the Cowboys in Dallas, you saw a whole bunch of hate directed at the Eagles from Cowboys fans. Of course, Eagles fans (including Tom of the Last Row) gave it right back. It was odd, however. The sanctimonious, cavalier attitude of Cowboys fans towards the Eagles, and their fans, is long gone. Donï¿½t get us wrong – the Eagles fans have felt this way about the Cowboys for a long time – now, however, the Cowboys feel the same way about us. We go out of our ways to trash talk each other and the other teams. In the heat of the moment, one Cowboys fan even rooted for the Redskins against the Eagles! One thing we here in the Last Row have learned this season ï¿½ something other Eagles fans, Raiders fans and even Cowboys fans know. Itï¿½s kind of fun to be the bad guys. If you donï¿½t care how you are perceived, you can just let any insults or jibes just roll off your back.
The relationship between Eagles fans and Cowboys fans has changed ï¿½ but one thing remains true, the fans of both teams are very passionate (except for bandwagon Cowboys fans!!!). If you were to put a group of five Cowboys fans in a room with five Eagles fans they could probably talk about any number of things civilly ï¿½ the weather, movies, songs, gadgets ï¿½ even fantasy football. If you put those same ten people in a room with their teamsï¿½ paraphernalia on ï¿½ forget it. Disagreements would begin almost immediately, and get heated rather quickly. Isnï¿½t this what being a fan of a team is all about, though? Being emotionally invested in a team and living and dying with them and really caring about how your team does week to week and getting angry when they donï¿½t do well?
OK ï¿½ so the game this week could mean everything, or it could mean pretty much nothing. The Eagles magic number going into Saturday (ah ï¿½ who doesnï¿½t love Saturday NFL games?) was one. The Eagles needed to win one more game against an NFC opponent or have the Falcons lose one game to an NFC opponent to be guaranteed the top seed in the NFC. So, we were hoping the Panthers would take care of the Falconsï¿½and then lose the rest of their games. We would be OK with losing to the Cowboys if the #1 seed was all wrapped and no one else got hurt. That was the big objective; no one else could get hurt. The Eagles had been battling injuries, along with the rest of the NFL all season. The injuries were beginning to pile up, however. The week before, the defensive line lost an important player, Hollis Thomas, to an arm injury.
Although the game could potentially mean nothing, it was still the Cowboys. In case you randomly scrolled to this paragraph in this article and missed the first part of this epic column ï¿½ we donï¿½t like the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is always objective number two for any true Eagles fan. Objective one is to get to and win the Super Bowl, you know our history there. Objective two, however, is more realistic and almost as fun. Now, we admit, it was a lot more fun when Dallas was better, but a win against Dallas is still a win against Dallas. As heated as the Message Boards were on this siteï¿½the city was not particularly hyped up for this meeting. In years past, people would be on sports talk radio talking this game up, but not this year, even on Saturday. There was simply not a lot of hate directed towards the Cowgirls and their fans. We donï¿½t forget the 90s, you can never forgetï¿½Well, most of the city has forgotten, sigh. Unfortunately, for most Eagles fans, the Cowboys game is an afterthought.
The Eagles looked very flat versus the Redskins, but it was the Redskins. They donï¿½t have the number 2 rated defense in the NFL for nothing. Still, the play of McNabb and company was a cause for concern. The Eagles were coming off of two weeks of a lot of scoring and fell flat against Gibbsï¿½ boys in DC. If the starters were going to play this game, they had to look much better.
As it turns out ï¿½ the Falcons won, and the Birds needed this game to secure the number one seed in the NFC.
The weather was pretty chilly. The high was not nearly high enough, but thatï¿½s football in the Northeastï¿½You definitely had to dress for the weather, the wind was pretty steady up where we sit, and it was the first game where a lot of people were wearing winter hats, thatï¿½s a good indication that winter has hit us here in the Northeast.
First Five Songs at the Tailgate:
Father Christmas ï¿½ The Kinks
Mother ï¿½ Danzig
We Will Rock You ï¿½ Queen
The Four Horsemen ï¿½ Metallica
Different Drum ï¿½ Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (Metallica and Me First are Last Row must haves for any tailgate)
There was one funny scene at the tailgate. One of Tomï¿½s old bosses came to the game and brought his young son. They walked in following a guy in a Cowboys jersey. They were about 20 feet behindï¿½Weï¿½re pretty sure that Young Mike learned some new interesting words that day.
There were a couple of guys wearing Cowboys jerseys in our parking lot, they were told what we think of Dallas and their fans. One guy had a Julius Jones jersey, weï¿½re not sure, but the price tag may still have been attached.
The tailgate was good with normal tailgate fare. Beer, hamburgers, sausages, hot dogs; you know, the Breakfast of Champions. We left a little early for our seats because we had missed the player introductions the last couple of games and wanted to see them this week. Especially if they introduced the offense, we wanted to let Todd Pinkston know what we thought of him short arming a pass the week before versus the ï¿½Skins. It turns out Pinkston was introduced, and got booed pretty badly, but he was the first player introduced, and a lot of people didnï¿½t ï¿½get their boo onï¿½ and thought they missed their only chance to let him know what we think of players with no heart. We were wrong; we had a couple more chances during the game.
As far as the game itself was concerned, it wasnï¿½t a good one. If you listen to some of the Philly area media, who love to kiss the Eagles organizationï¿½s collective butts, youï¿½d have heard things like ï¿½this was a character building game for the Eagles to come from behind and winï¿½, or maybe ï¿½McNabb didnï¿½t look his best, but he refuses to let this team lose and carried the team on his back to a winï¿½. These sentiments, while we understand their origin, are completely false. This was no ï¿½character builderï¿½, it was an embarrassment to the Eagles offense, and their play-calling. If ever a team played down to the level of their opponents ï¿½ this was it.
Letï¿½s face it; the Cowboys stink. And their defense is one of the worst in the league right now. And for a team of the Eagleï¿½s talent to put up such a mediocre display was almost criminal. Forget about T.O.ï¿½s injury for a minute, too. That had little to nothing to do with this poor performance. McNabb was off the whole game. The receivers were simply awful, with the possible exception of T.O. (and even he had a bad game for his normal productivity).
But far and away, the injury to T.O. was the story of this game. The addition of this WR made such a dramatic turnaround to one of the NFLï¿½s most lack-luster offenses, it was hard to believe. And now itï¿½s equally hard to believe that T.O. wonï¿½t be with us for the rest of the ride. Oh they say he might be back for the Super Bowl if the Eagles even get there, but itï¿½s better to plan for him NOT being there, and just turn hand-springs if heï¿½s back in action by then.
[Editorï¿½s note: Well, another mention of ï¿½that end of the year gameï¿½s nameï¿½ and another $1,000 to the NFL. Thanks boys, youï¿½ve succeeded in lowering your net pay to $4.28 this year ï¿½ congratulations on being the cheapest sportswriters in Philadelphia. (Except for Dick Jerardi.)]
If youï¿½ve never heard a collective groan, then we wish you could have been at the game this past Sunday. The Cowboys game was long forgotten at that point by most fansï¿½ the impending feeling of dread was all almost any of us in the stands could think about.
Donï¿½t get us wrong ï¿½ itï¿½s not that we donï¿½t believe that the Eagles are still one of the NFLï¿½s best teams, even without T.O. But, we have been to back-to-back-to-back NFC Championship games (2 of them at home), and come up empty-handed. And while adding Kearse to the defense, as well as the emergence of the Eagles young CBs and the move of Trotter to the starting MLB position, has made the defense even better than they have been over the past 2 or 3 years ï¿½ it was T.O. that sparked the offense into the juggernaut they had become.
With T.O. out, the game falls squarely on McNabbï¿½s shoulders, along with Brian Westbrook ï¿½ who now needs to be the receiving threat we need as well as the rushing threat. It also falls on Andy Reed to do exactly what is necessary ï¿½ call more passes to the TEs and Westbrook, since his now #1 WR Todd ï¿½Stinkstonï¿½ might be the worst #1 WR anywhere, ever. Pinkston was never a good receiver before, but he was serviceable. In the last 3 games, however, he has short-armed 3 passes because he heard footsteps. Before he was almost worthless, now he actually has a negative impact on the team.
Only time will tell how this all plays out, but the Last Row felt a sense of shock and loss that will be hard to put behind us when T.O. went down. Well, at least until the first playoff game. By then weï¿½ll have found a way to rationalize the whole situation in such a way that Pinkston acts as a decoy, Westbrook and McNabb hook up for 200 yards receiving, and McNabb rushes for 3 TDs. Ah the life of the Last Row!
[This is our last regularly-scheduled article of the year. Weï¿½re not doing one for the Bengals game ï¿½ theyï¿½re the Bengals ï¿½ who cares? However, we will send short columns in after the playoff game(s) to give you something to read when youï¿½re on the can at work. We thank the dozen people (we call you guys the Apostles) who read our columns and wish you the best this holiday season. If you are still alive in your fantasy football playoffs ï¿½ good luck! Happy New Year!
Cheers! ï¿½ Oh sure, it may lack style or flair. It may seem uncouth. It may seem juvenile. And while all those things are probably true, you just gotta love a couple rousing rounds of ï¿½Dallas Sucks!! Dallas Sucks!!ï¿½. Oh sure, you could use it for other teams, ï¿½Giants Suck!!ï¿½ or maybe ï¿½Redskins Suck!!ï¿½ ï¿½ but the teams of those fans donï¿½t seem to get nearly as annoyed as the bandwagon Cowboy fans get. Maybe itï¿½s that they donï¿½t want to be reminded that right after they jumped on the bandwagon, the Cowboys franchise went into the toilet; who can say? All we know is, chanting ï¿½Dallas Sucks!!ï¿½ several times in succession, along with an entire stadium section is a beautiful thing; an unstylish, uncouth, juvenile, beautiful thing.
Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love, B****!!! Award ï¿½ As our faithful reader(s) surely know, we normally give this award to an opposing player who gets a warm welcome on the field of play by one of our beloved Eagles. This week, however, we were forced to give this award to someone other than a player. This week we give the award to one of the common folk ï¿½ a fan.
You see, there was a Dallas fan sitting in our section. And, contrary to popular media misconceptions, we actually do believe that people should be able to wear their teamï¿½s apparel to any stadium in the country in relative peace. Violence in the stadium is always uncalled for and should be dealt with swiftly and harshly.
But this particular fan was wearing a blue Cowboys jersey with the name ï¿½Parcellsï¿½ on it and the number 6. Now who in the wide, wide world of sports gets a jersey with a coachï¿½s name on it?? This bandwagon fan was asking for trouble, and he got itï¿½ in the form of verbal abuse. While we donï¿½t encourage violence, we firmly believe that if you wear a jersey to any stadium you shouldnï¿½t be surprised to get some choice statements hurled in your general direction ï¿½ and we delivered. Everything that was said was directed at this guy, his strange facial hair choice (some kind of muttonchops gone horribly wrong), and Parcells. He was referred to as ï¿½Big Tunaï¿½ quite often (hey, how witty can you be after youï¿½ve been tailgating?). And his muttonchops got their share of comments as well.
This fan didnï¿½t even last ï¿½ of a football game before he decided that he might enjoy the game more from some other spot ï¿½ hopefully, the rock this bandwagon fan slithered out from under. So this one is for you ï¿½Parcells #6ï¿½; welcome to the city of brotherly love, b****!
Final Thoughts from The Last Row ï¿½
ï¿½ From the Encyclopedia Fanatica – Worst NFL Fans – Cowboy Bandwagon Fans (no offense to Cowboy fans from the Dallas area):
Most Cowboys fans have no heart, and are from an area that actually has another NFL team (people from areas that don’t have a NFL team may or may not be a Bandwagon Fan)… The worst sort of Cowboy fan is a bandwagon fan who has the Cowboys as their ‘favorite’ team. But also has a ‘backup’ favorite team…
The backup… favorite team is probably from the area the Bandwagon Fan grew up, but is probably not historically good. The Bandwagon Fan chose the Cowboys as his favorite team because they did well when they were growing up (mid-late 70s – early to mid 90s).
The Bandwagon Fan (BWF) usually has jerseys from the mid 90s and hasn’t bought any new Cowboy jerseys recently. Perhaps their other ‘favorite’ team has had a good run recently, and they bought gear from that team.
The Bandwagon Fan is usually small in stature and small of heart, not willing to ride the good and bad times with his team. After a certain age (usually late teens) , the Bandwagon Fan realizes that switching teams to root for is not easily accomplished (his friends catch on to what the BWF is doing) and sticks with the Cowboys – sometimes to the BWF’s chagrin. These specimens live in the past and will often point back to results of contest from the last millennium. If you happen to be an Eagles fan, you may also point back to the results from the last millennium that netted 3 NFL championships for your favorite team.
BWFs often give lame-a$$ reasons for being a fan of the Cowboys, they include (but aren’t limited to):
1) The cheerleaders (hey, they are great, but no reason to like the team itself)
2) Roger Staubach/Troy Aikman/Emmitt Smith
3) Character guys (the 90s teams shattered that reason)
4) The star logo (Believe it or not…some BWF’s use this gem)
5) Wanting to root for a ‘winning’ organization with a lot of championships
ï¿½ If no one ever eats those holiday fruitcakes, then where the heck do they go? New ones are made every year, so eventually we expect that they should be piling up in landfills or peopleï¿½s basements. Is their some secret government agency whose job it is to track and neutralize these fruitcakes? If so, how much of our tax-dollars go toward this effort each and every year? And is the President aware of the growing fruitcake proliferation? Just thinking about it scares us sillyï¿½
ï¿½ Two film franchises released movies this year, with poor results. The films were Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Species III . Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason didnï¿½t do well in box office and was, well, a Bridget Jones movie. Species III was released straight to video. It seems that the air is out of the tires with these franchises. We have an idea. Combine them- Species IV: The Edge of Reason. Kirstie Alley makes her cinematic comeback as a half Bridget Jones/half alien creature who tries to lure men to mate with. Of course, no healthy man will have her. So she sits around and complains and fantasizes. But ï¿½ she has tentacles.
ï¿½ Remember hockey? Philadelphia is a pretty big hockey town for the U.S. and while a lot of people do miss watching the games on TV, the sport isnï¿½t deeply missed by anyone except the die-hards who go to the games. The NHL and their players should realize that people are finding alternatives. The Arena Football League must be very happy about this situationï¿½
ï¿½ Redd Foxx was a national talent in his role as Fred G. Sanford (on Sanford and Son). I mean the guy made double heart-attacks hilarious and badgering your own son ï¿½loveableï¿½.
ï¿½ We like the CSI franchise, but it seems that the characters overstep their bounds. We donï¿½t know this for sure, but isnï¿½t the job of the Crime Scene Unit to analyze the crime scene and the evidence? A lot of times the characters question suspects without a detective with them. Isnï¿½t this overstepping their bounds? We honestly donï¿½t know ï¿½ but it does seem like the characters do more than the job description calls for. One more thing about the CSI franchise. Donï¿½t watch it while youï¿½re eating. Yuck
ï¿½ Saying ï¿½Merry Christmasï¿½ in our society has somehow become the equivalent of saying ï¿½I am Hitlerï¿½. We arenï¿½t sure when this happened or even why it happened. The only thing we know is this:
If we say ï¿½Merry Christmasï¿½ to you in the street, we arenï¿½t asking you to subscribe to our religion. We arenï¿½t asking you to convert from whatever faith you believe in. We arenï¿½t asking you to believe anything we believe in, or even accept our customs. But get off your high and mighty politically correct horse. Take it as a general well wishing, or ignore it completely ï¿½ we donï¿½t really care. Just grow up and realize that not every phrase, comment, or greeting is meant to belittle you or your beliefs.
So, to those of you not hell-bent on suing us for saying this to you, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. For those who believe we are in some way putting down your system of beliefs with that sentiment, and are dialing your local ACLU chapter right now ï¿½ you can contact our lawyers at 1-800-DROP-DEAD.
ï¿½ If you happen to be reading this while defending our country and are away from home ï¿½ your sacrifice is very much appreciated. We hope you get home very, very soon. Stay safe.
The Last Rowï¿½s Top Six:
Top Six Things You DONï¿½T Know About Santa Claus
6. Spent the better part of 1968 acting as an underwater cameraman on ï¿½The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteauï¿½. (Santa was rumored to hate Cousteauï¿½s son Jean-Michael almost as much as Cousteau himself, and on more than one occasion sabotaged his air-hose.)
5. Sells any undelivered toys on eBay to make a little ï¿½walking aroundï¿½ money and then spends the Christmas off-season in Key West frequenting strip joints.
4. Was the original lead guitarist for Metallica, before Dave Mustaine.
3. Heï¿½s a Freemason, and the original founder of the DeBeers Diamond conglomerate. (Thus itï¿½s no surprise that Santa sells over 40% of DeBeersï¿½ ï¿½iceï¿½ at Christmas-time, what with his overwhelming lock on the holiday giving.)
2. Sent the Heat-Miser and Cold-Miser an elfï¿½s head in the bed as a message. They were getting a little too popular.
1. Has fathered over 10,000 illegitimate children.
[Editorï¿½s note: Guys, what have we told you about possible slander lawsuits?? Our research department already informed you that the actual number of *verified* illegitimate children of Santa was 9,861. FantasySharks.com apologizes to Santa in accordance to our agreement with his legal firm ï¿½Kringle, Kringle, and Smithï¿½.]