In an Increasingly Polite League, NFC East Still Thrives on Hate

Animosity is the spice of football season. Outside of gambling, professional football's greatest sub-pleasure is the thought that, perhaps, the two teams you are watching on a given Sunday are crashing against each other as a result, not of vast monetary compensation, but rather, good ol' fashioned mutual enmity.

It's a discouraging fact, then, that rivalries--I mean, really good rivalries--are on the wane in the NFL. This sad development is precipitated by the perpetual movement of players to new teams, league expansion and inevitable shifts in power.

If there is a bastion of the old school, though, it is probably the NFC East. Dallas' rivalries with Washington and Philadelphia have carried over from the past. Their rivalry with New York, and the proliferation of their rivalries with the 'Skins and Iggles, have been largely a product of the divisions' highly competitive teams of recent. The hate is no small part of why the East seems to be the most intriguing division in football.

And the intrigue, as well as the animosity, began long before the Cowboys landed in San Antonio for training camp.

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Brandon Jacobs said a few weeks ago in a spot for ESPN Radio that he was "not a fan of Tony Romo."

No harm, no foul, there. Jacobs certainly has ample company in the not-a-fan-of-Romo club.

But Jacobs continued: "I don't think he's that good a passer, to be honest with you," he said. "His luck will be gone sooner or later. If you were to keep [him] in the pocket, he's not that effective." If that doesn't go on the bulletin board, I don't know what does.

Chris Cooley and clipboard-jockey Colt Brennan took their turn at Romo, as well as Jason Witten recently (albeit with a more jocular tone), with a pair of videos parodying the "Fantasy Files" videos. While the degree of humor in them is suspect (they kind of suck, honestly), they too could be read as a derisive shot at one the man who is no doubt used to derisive shots (Romo) and one who is not (Witten).

The generally indirect (half-assed) approach to the videos makes one question just how inflammatory they really are. Indeed, Jacobs' comments, too, are fairly run-of-the-mill, as far as the NFL is concerned.

But after the emotionless showing of 2008, it is hopeful that Romo, as well as his teammates, have been watching and listening and (perhaps?) stewing.

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