This Sunday night the NFL's two most financially valuable teams, the Cowboys and Redskins, will kick off their 51st season as one of the league's most well-known odd couples. They absolutely can't stand each other, but that doesn't mean they don't respect each other. (Well, maybe.) They probably even need each other in some warped Freudian way. Some would say the rivalry doesn't mean as much as it has in past years. Try telling a lifelong Redskins' fan that. You'll be laughed out of DC. Try telling a faithful Cowboys' fan that - he'll just shake his head and figure you're on another planet.
There's a history between these two organizations that most fans today don't know much about. It dates back to 1960 when one of two Dallas professional football teams, the Cowboys, were founded. The other team was the on-again/off-again Dallas Texans of the American Football League, which became the Kansas City Chiefs after the 1962 season.
To many fans around the league, and especially NFC East fans, Cowboys' fans often display a certain arrogance reminiscent of the high society characters on the soap opera Dallas. The show was wildly popular due in no small part to plots riddled with scandals and sexual overtones. Some would argue the Cowboys were just as popular in the 1990s for the same reasons. But alas, I digress. Anytime the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, "the 'Boys were the superior team but simply made too many mistakes". That is, of course, until Cowboys' fans turn on their team's head coach. Then, any air of superiority is strangely silent. (That's the case now, isn't it?)
Unfortunately for Redskins' Nation, that perceived air of superiority is well-deserved. The Cowboys have beaten the 'Skins 59 times out of 100 games, with 2 ties. During the regular season, Dallas has out-scored Washington 2223 to 1838. The Cowboys have swept the Redskins in 15 of their 50 seasons playing each other, while the Redskins swept the Cowboys 3 times. That's downright ugly. To add insult to injury, during Jimmy Johnson's first season as the Cowboys' Head Coach, his team won just one game. I don't have to tell you who they beat. More recently, Dallas has won 8 of the 13 contests played at FedEx Field (formerly Jack Kent Cooke Stadium). And, of course, they've won the last 3 contests. Ouch! .
When it comes to being in the spotlight, the Redskins have held their own. Dallas and Washington have been featured on Monday Night Football 14 times. They're 7 & 7. They've played twice in the post-season. Washington won both contests by a combined score of 57 to 20. They played one overtime game in 1975. Washington won 30 to 24. On September 28, 2008, the Redskins helped the Cowboys celebrate their last game at Texas Stadium by defeating them 26 to 24. This is all small consolation to Redskins' fans, but I have a feeling they'll feel just fine around 11:30pm eastern time Sunday night. Even Skip Bayless has the Cowboys losing the opener. He's picked Dallas to win the NFC East this year, and has Washington securing the wild card.
The Washington - Dallas history is a colorful one. Here are a few random highlites, a couple of which few of us were around to witness:
The 'chicken game' of 1962, when two acrobats dressed in chicken suits were hired by Cowboys' fans to run onto the field during a game with the Redskins and throw eggs;
Tom Landry's last game at RFK Stadium in 1988, in which the Cowboys ruined the Redskins' hopes of making the playoffs;
Roger Staubach being knocked out of a game on Thanksgiving Day, 1974, only to have Clint Longley hit Drew Pearson deep as he led an unlikely come-from-behind win in Dallas;
Washington's so-called Scab Team winning in Dallas in 1987, when the Cowboys had 13 veterans on their strike team roster;
The Redskins spoiling the 2005 Ring of Honor induction game of Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, and Michael Irvin, when Mark Brunell threw two touchdown bombs to Santana Moss to lead a Skins' come-back in the last four minutes;
Dallas Mavericks' guard Darrell Armstong grabbing a mic and declaring "How 'bout those Redskins", after the Skins routed the Cowboys 35 - 7 in 2005 to complete a very rare sweep.
Back to the present: Washington over Dallas, 27 to 24, no matter what Mr. Brandon Keener thinks.