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Dallas Week Dawns, The Feud Goes On...Just Because

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Dallas Week. Ugh. What could be more like "That 70s Show" in a football format?

That's what this is. A remembrance of things past. When the paranoid George Allen, channeling the paranoid Richard Nixon, saw spies lurking in the woods. He fomented a hatred of all things Dallas but the rivalry mattered in the chase for championshps.

Now it's more like Grumpy Old Men. Codgers still feuding with no clear idea why they so dislike each other.

Let's face it, Dallas is still easy to hate. The star on the helmet. The gargantuan new stadium with tickets priced at an average of $159. Jerry Jones and a mouth that runs the 40-word dash in record time. Tony Romo, with or without Jessica Simpson. All that history – Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Tex Schramm, Gil Brandt, the Flex defense, Hollywood Henderson, America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

Hate 'em. Well, maybe the cheerleaders get a pass.

Except we hate them for everything they were and not what they are. Which hasn't been much but a Texas-sized disappointment.

They haven't won a playoff game since the 1996 season. One division title since 1998. They ain't nuthin' but a bad memory.

Which brings us to the Redskins. And their one division title (1999). The Redskins like to space them out, having won previously in 1991. Playoff berths dating to 1999: Three. Playoff wins: One.

This is Grumpy Old Men. There's a rivalry and mutual disdain and it is built on … what? The endless battle to finish third in the NFC East?

Make no mistake, Dallas and Washington fought over plenty in the 1970s as the Redskins tried to recapture the real estate taken by the Cowboys.

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Dexter Manley takes down Danny White
in '83. (AP Photo)

When the NFL went to four divisions in 1967, the Cowboys began a five-year run atop what was first called the Capitol Division and then, after the merger with the AFL in 1970, the NFC Eastern Division.

The Redskins took that title away from them in 1972, pounded the 'Boys 26-3 for the NFC championship and went to Super Bowl VII, where they lost to the Miami Dolphins 14-7.

In 1974, the Cowboys stunned the Redskins 24-23 when backup quarterback Clint Longley threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds left.

That Nov. 28 loss kept the Redskins from clinching a playoff berth, though they ultimately did so while the Cowboys did not, ending an eight-year run of postseason appearances.

Redskins coach Jim Zorn played his rookie season with the Cowboys in 1975 and "they were still basking in" the glow of the Longley throw, he said. Sore winners.

The Redskins did not earn another division title until 1983. They did finish atop the NFC standings with an 8-1 record in a strike-shortened '82 season but division records did not apply and 16 teams qualified for a playoff tournament.

The Redskins vanquished the Cowboys 31-17 in the NFC title game and went on to win Super Bowl XVII, the first of three they would capture under Joe Gibbs.

That turned the tide in a division Dallas dominated. The Cowboys had won six consecutive NFC East titles (1976-81). They were in three Super Bowls in four years, winning Super Bowl XII and losing twice to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Yes, eminently easy to hate. With their sense of entitlement, their computer-age draft system (before there was a computer age), their Thanksgiving home game and the stadium with the hole in the roof so "God can watch his favorite team."

Grrr.

Before we continue with the bitterness and bile, let's revisit one funny moment in Dallas history. No, not Leon Lett sliding in the snow. Or getting a fumble recovery knocked out of his hands at the goal line in the Super Bowl. Or Romo botching the snap on what would have been the winning field goal in a home playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.

No, this one is really funny.

It is the 1960s. The great Jack Buck is calling a Dallas game on the radio. He, however, has this mental block where a certain Dallas player is concerned and he refers endlessly to the Cowboys tight end, a fella by the name of Pettis Norman, as Norman Pettis.

Norman Pettis this. Norman Pettis that. Throughout the first half.

At halftime, Cowboys draft guru Gil Brandt seeks the announcer out, slaps him on the back and says, "Well, if it isn't Buck Jack."

(Laughter goes here).

His son, Buck Joe, now calls games for Fox with Troy Aikman.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

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Santana Moss's dramatic TD catch
in '05. (AP Photo)

Back in the early 1980s, before the Cowboys began their slide into mediocrity, Dallas Week roused the D.C. area. A radio station went to far as to print dart boards with a picture of Landry covered by concentric target circles – don't doubt me, I still have one on my desk.

So we feud on. Why? Because. Dallas hasn't won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season, the Redskins since the '91 campaign. This is a rivalry just because it was … and will continue to be.

Jones liked to boast that the Cowboys were the No. 1 team in every market that didn't have a team and No. 2 in every one that did. They won three Super Bowls in four years in the early 1990s as the Redskins slipped in the years after Gibbs' first retirement. The Cowboys who eclipsed them were boisterous, obnoxious and somewhat degenerate off the field.

Jimmy Johnson and his hair. The jiggly Nate Newton and the wiggly Emmitt Smith. Michael Irvin's preening. Deion Sanders.

They won a Super Bowl with Barry Switzer as their coach. Jones was right. Any of 500 coaches could have won with that team. All of this while the Redskins futzed around with the likes of Desmond Howard, Heath Shuler, Ricky Ervins and Michael Westbrook.

So it's Dallas Week. In real time. The Cowboys are 6-3. The Redskins are 3-6. Sunday's meeting is important not because of all the history but because it is here and now.

Because the Redskins finally won a game and looked like the Redskins doing it. Because the Redskins haven't won a division game this season or one on the road in nearly a year (at Seattle, last Nov. 23). Because this is the next game for a team that cannot afford to lose another.

Dallas Week. For all the right reasons. We can get behind that.


Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and Redskins.com to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. Go to Redskins.com for the Redskins Blitz column and NFL Blitz on Friday. Larry also appears on The Jim Zorn Show on WRC-TV on Saturday night, on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his blog at redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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