Eagles

Eagles

Last week, as Torrey Smith enjoyed some time off in the city during the Eagles' bye, he began to hear it more and more. 

He heard it everywhere he went. 

"They were like, 'As long as you beat those Cowboys. As long as you beat those Cowboys,'" said Smith, in a voice, before going back to his normal one. "It's pretty cool to be a part of it." 

The Eagles-Cowboys rivalry is one of the best in the NFL. It certainly means a heckuva lot to the people of Philadelphia. 

Of the 53 members on the Eagles' roster, 21 hadn't played for the Eagles before this season. And until they joined the team, many of them didn't have a clue about the rivalry. 

They're starting to figure it out.  

"Obviously, I see the difference, the way people look at it, how much people don't like Dallas," safety Corey Graham said. "It might be amped a little bit more."

Smith said he was told about the rivalry when he signed this offseason and it was somewhat news to him. Growing up in Virginia, he always thought the biggest rivalry around was Cowboys-Redskins. And he's not necessarily wrong. That's a pretty big one too. 

"It feels like it's everyone," Smith said of the teams that have a rivalry with the Cowboys. 

And he's not wrong about that either. 

That star on the side of the Cowboys' helmets might as well be a bullseye. The Cowboys — dubbed "America's team" — are as near a villain as any team in the NFL. No, they haven't been able to keep up their success throughout the years, but the Cowboys are still the team everyone loves to hate. And no city loves to hate the Cowboys as much as Philadelphia. 

 

The Eagles hold a 51-65 record all-time against the Cowboys and after splitting last season have won four of their last seven against them. But last year's game in Dallas was an absolute heartbreaker and the regular season finale they won was pretty meaningless. 

In recent years, the Eagles' rivalry against the Giants has surpassed that of the rivalry with the Cowboys for some. But this is still the Cowboys we're talking about. Maybe the days of the Bounty Bowl are long gone and maybe the game simply doesn't mean as much to the players as it used to. But it still means a lot to fans. 

Chris Long, who is active on social media, said it's pretty clear how much fans care about beating Dallas. Long said the team just can't get caught up in that hype. 

"I think we get into trouble if we start making some games bigger than other games and whatnot," he said. "They're all big games for us because we're trying to continue winning. As we get later in the season, each game will grow in importance just because of when it is but I'm certainly not getting caught up in the whole rivalry thing." 

This, of course, isn't the first rivalry game for the newcomers on the team. Almost all of those players who went to big colleges have played in rivalry games. Alshon Jeffery played for the Bears against the Packers. Smith and Tim Jernigan played for the Ravens against the Steelers. And so on. 

"I'm starting to [get it], especially as the week goes on," Jernigan said. "I'm starting to get that vibe a little bit." 

The players who have been with the Eagles for at least a couple years understand how important Dallas week is. Carson Wentz clearly gets it. So does Lane Johnson, who threatened to murder his grandmother after she rooted for the Cowboys. 

Johnson was obviously joking. He's not going to murder his grandmother. But he gets it. He gets how much it means to the people in this city. He gets it in a way the new guys just won't yet. 

"I heard it was crazy," said Ronald Darby, who came to the Eagles in an August trade. "I heard Eagles-Redskins was crazy too. Is Dallas bigger? Is it a bigger rivalry?"

Yeah, he's still learning.