At some point, NFL games stopped becoming a gut-wrenching, nerve-twisting whirlwind of emotions in which my world could become unhinged or absolutely euphoric on the whim of a wide receiver’s willingness to lay out for a ball or not.
Yep, when I followed football back in the day, it was a major commitment. I was “all in” decades, lifetimes, eons before “all in” became the trendy, marketable ploy to attract paying customers these days.
For me, no team got my “all in” commitment as much as the Eagles, and, with that, especially at that impressionable time, as Dick Vermeil was leading the team out of the ashes, no game they played had my “all in” attention as much as Dallas did.
I hated the Cowboys. I mean, I really hated ’em. With every fiber of my being, I could not stand anything about them. Where they played. How they played. What they wore when they played. Who played for them.
Think about that. I hated Roger Staubach … with a passion that couldn’t be measured. The stupidity of such a reality defies description, but I digress …
So, umm, yeah, I didn’t care much for the Cowgirls, or the people who did care for them.
I took great pride in being a typical Eagles fans. Cherished it. Promoted it. Showed it, loud and proud.
Oh, back in that day, I would’ve been living for something like this afternoon’s 4:25 start at Lincoln Financial Field between my beloved Birds and Dallas for months as if my well-being, sanity and life in general depended on it.
But I changed. Somewhere along the line, my priorities and my interests changed. The curveballs life threw me, be they personal or professional, facilitated my move in a different direction. Kids, career, successful or not, my “all in” for the Eagles, and that Philly-Dallas rivalry, faded.
I gained a new perspective. Not saying it’s a better or worse one. In fact, sometimes when I find myself looking for a little inner fire I wish I still had that passion. I even look for it, but it’s no longer there.
Instead, I just get to enjoy the game.
This is blasphemous I know. But, to me, it’s just another game.
Oh, I’ll be for the Birds. I’ll hope they win. But I’ll be fine before, during and after the game, regardless of the outcome, regardless of whether Ryan Matthews bores through the line for that TD or gets stuffed at the point of attack.
Honestly, I don’t even necessarily “get” the rivalry existing anymore. The whole point, even back then, was that Dallas represented the “have” in the NFL and Philly the “have-not.” The reality, as Eagles fans, we desperately wanted to become what the Cowgirls were: winners. Oh, we could deal without all the cheesy, highfalutin pomposity that came with their deal, but, still, we wanted to win like they did.
But Dallas hasn’t been relevant in “top teams” discussions for decades. If anything, the Eagles have had a far greater experience over the last couple of ’em, with far greater success.
If anything, the Eagles’ real rivalry is with the New York Giants – their closest neighbors to the north, and an outfit that has achieved something that not even Dallas has in the past decade: a championship. Twice.
Even the Washington Redskins make more sense to me as rivals as well. Like the Giants, they’re relatively quick ride away, just heading south on I-95 instead.
Coming clean, though, I don’t get all geared up to “hate” on them, either. I don’t dislike Eli Manning or Tony Romo, and I don’t rejoice in what has happened to RG3.
So, today, while many I know will work up a good lather either sweating through the game or spewing on about it, I’m fortunate. I’ll watch, take in what I see, and just enjoy as pure entertainment, and, truth be told, I kinda like it that way.
Besides, I got nothing left after that Temple game yesterday.
Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org