For Eagles fans, it’s death, taxes and hatred for the Cowboys. Despising America’s Team is instinctual, almost genetic. Just as our fathers passed down the “bleeding green” passion that turns the majority of fans into manic depressives on Sundays, they also imparted the feeling that we should hate Dallas above all others. We don’t know why, we just know we are supposed to hate them.
Sure, there’s no shortage of reasons to dislike the Cowboys (See Exhibits A, B, C, D, E and F), but I’ve always wondered why it’s them and not the Giants, or the Mets, or the Penguins, or the Celtics that hold that not-so-special place in our hearts. Luckily, Ray Didinger answered that question this week on Comcast Sportsnet:
If you are a younger fan, you probably never heard about Dallas linebacker Lee Roy Jordan cheap-shotting the Eagles’ Timmy Brown and knocking out four of his teeth. That happened in 1967 and turned the rivalry into a blood feud.
The Cowboys and Eagles first met in 1960, but 1967 was the first year they were divisional rivals. That year, the National Football League Capitol Division (now known as the NFC East) was formed. It consisted of Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington and New Orleans, who would be replaced by the New York Giants in 1968.
The first meeting of the ’67 season took place on October 29 at Franklin Field and ended with a 21-14 Eagles victory. Other than a surprise onside kick that turned into an Eagles touchdown drive, the upset win was pretty uneventful. The same can’t be said for the second Eagles/Dallas game that year. It was December 10, 1967 and the 4-7-1 Eagles traveled to Dallas to take on the division leading 8-4 Cowboys. The Cowboys had already clinched the division, rendering the outcome of the game meaningless. But Dallas’ “doomsday defense” made it a statement game; a statement made at the expense of Timmy Brown’s jaw.
Timmy Brown always had success against the Cowboys. In ’66 he ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns in one game against Dallas so it’s not a stretch as to why Brown was a target. In fact, Brown was interviewed by Stan Hochman years later and said he received phone calls the morning of the game from some of the Dallas guys he knew telling him there was a contract on his head.
In the late stages of the game, with Dallas having dominated the Eagles and built a 31-3 lead, the Cowboys fired the first shot in the “blood feud” that exists to this day. The Eagles possessed the ball and a passing play was called in which Brown was a decoy. After quarterback Norm Snead’s pass to another receiver fell incomplete, Timmy Brown slowed down and dropped his head. And that’s when it happened: Dallas middle-linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, who was in Brown’s vicinity, dropped Brown with an elbow to the face mask well after the whistle sounded.
With Brown dazed on the ground, Jordan stepped over the injured Eagle, taunting him. The blow was significant; it fractured Brown’s jaw and loosened six of his teeth. Brown said, “I wound up eating nothing but liquids for a month and a half. Jordan got a 15-yard penalty and that’s all.”
The root of the hatred Philadelphians harbor towards the Cowboys, their coaches, their cheerleaders, their fans, their stadium and their colors was a cheap shot on Timmy Brown. A cheap shot that earned Lee Roy Jordan a bounty. Buddy Ryan wouldn’t have it any other way.