In hindsight, it's kinda funny that the possibility of a Redskins-Cowboys rivalry flare up never crossed anyone's mind before Saturday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. With Russ Grimm joining Emmitt Smith as an honoree, the crowd was going to be full of fans in both teams' jerseys and there used to be an entire cottage industry devoted to a rivalry fierce enough that it has its own Wikipedia page. It should have set off warning lights and even warranted a little extra security.
That's not the way it went down, though, and it wasn't until reading interviews Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog did with some of Grimm's teammates that the connection between the two players even appeared on our radar screen. That says a lot for how far the rivalry has fallen from the place of primacy it held in the 70's and 80's, mostly due to the mess that Dan Snyder has made of the 'Skins since buying the team in 1999 and the way that consistently good teams in Philly and New York have stolen the attention.
Sure, it's still fun to beat the Redskins but it hardly feels like the monumental matchup it was when guys like Dexter Manley, John Riggins and Joe Theisman were on the other side of the field. Even the return of Joe Gibbs didn't do much to juice things up and it mostly feels like you dislike the 'Skins because you're supposed to not because you actually dislike them.
If you miss the old days, you'll be happy to know that time hasn't healed any wounds. Steinberg spoke with several of Grimm's fellow Hogs and they all still have a serious distaste for the guys with the big blue star on their helmets and the fans wearing Cowboys jerseys who flooded Canton this weekend.
Jeff Bostic: "I really don't have a whole lot of use for the Cowboys, for being the self-proclaimed America's Team.I mean, who named them that? Did they take a vote? What are they, The Anointed Ones? I mean, they thought they were when we came in the league, and it's kind of nice sticking it to them a couple times."
George Starke: "Absolutely. They're the Cowboys, we're the Redskins, we're not supposed to like them, and we don't. We still sign their autographs and stuff like that, we're not mean people. But you know, we wear the white hats and they wear the black hats."
Joe Jacoby: "It's never gonna die. Thirteen years, playing in the NFC East, to hear all that America's Team .... Hey, they've had success, whatever. But it's still a rivalry, and it was nice that we still got to see it again tonight."
The problem for the Redskins is that the only place the rivalry has any resonance right now is in a museum devoted to the history of football. When you talk about the teams that threaten the Cowboys entering the 2010 season, you talk about the Giants, the Saints, the Packers and the Vikings. The Redskins still don't rate which means that all that bad blood remains something of an artifact instead of the living thing that excited us all those years ago.
Maybe that will change with Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb making the move to D.C. this season. They aren't enough to revitalize the Redskins all by themselves, but they do give some hope that we'll be sitting on the edge of our seats for a nationally televised Cowboys-Redskins war in the not too distant future.
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