Philly fans rank Cowboys as greatest rival

Posted: September 29, 2010

And our Greatest Sports Rival is . . . the Dallas Cowboys.

Based on the survey the Daily News conducted in conjunction with the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University, Philadelphia fans chose Dallas as our greatest rival by an overwhelming consensus.

The Cowboys were selected by 87 percent, followed in order by the New York Mets (56 percent); the New York Giants (39 percent); the New Jersey Devils (15 percent); and the Boston Celtics and Pittsburgh Penguins (both 13 percent). Respondents were asked to choose their top 3 from a list of 15.

So we asked: Why Dallas and not the Mets or Giants?

To which Mark Kemmerer, of Perkasie, Pa., replied: "Really? I have to explain why Dallas sucks?"

Good point.

But Kemmerer humored us. "They have been dubbed 'America's Team' since the beginning of time," said Kemmerer, who cited the Cowboys for "smugness" and "arrogance."

Others agreed.

Bill Hand, of Sewell, N.J., said the animosity goes back to the 1970s, "when the Eagles were not a good team and [the Cowboys] seemed to run up scores, take cheap shots at Eagles players and get the breaks from the referees." Hand added that "this hatred escalated" when Buddy Ryan took over as Eagles head coach. Hand remembers how Ryan "ran up the score in the strike game" and how he had quarterback Randall Cunningham get up from a kneeldown at the end of a game and throw a touchdown pass.

"That was like throwing gasoline on the fire," Hand said. "Buddy had to face Jimmy Johnson when [Tom] Landry was replaced as head coach and the Eagles fandom became rabid."

Cataloguing the history between the two teams, Marty Welsh, of Schwenksville, Pa., said: "Come on, Bounty Bowl, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Zendejas, the 1980 NFC championship? I think there is just too many games that cause the memory to burn."

Jason Thomas, of Claymont, Del., added: "Hating the Cowboys has become part of a Philly fans' DNA! From a young age I was taught to hate the Cowboys . . . To this day, [if] the Eagles go 2-14 and those two wins come against the Cowboys, it would be a good season."

Larry Litwin, of Berlin, N.J., said the rivalry could have something to do with "that big star" the Cowboys wear. Litwin says that somehow his daughter Julie ended up marrying a Dallas fan. And now their two children "root for the dreaded Cowboys."

Litwin said: "This is a rivalry than can turn neighbor against neighbor and family member against family member."

And he added: "In fun, of course."

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