Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

The Cowboys Rivalry: The Beginning


Recommended Posts

The Cowboys Rivalry: The Beginning

I've been trying to get my wife to watch football with me and bless her heart she couldn't be less interested. But she is trying. She shows a passing interest in the Skins and can tell you the names of Portis, Moss and Cooley. But she really surprised me the other day. She said, "Why do the Cowoys and Redskins hate each other so much?"

"Cause they do. They always have. It's a rivalry." (Duh.)

"Yeah, but why?"

Heck, I consider myself a diehard Redskin fan but I was at a loss to explain this to her. Was it the whole Cowboys and Indians thing? When did the rivalry orginate and why? So I did a little digging and for those of you, who like me, may need a short history lesson on the biggest rivalry in professional sports, here goes:

Texas Oil Tycoon Clint Murchison was having a hard time bringing an NFL team to Dallas. He tried buying two teams, but the negotiations fell through. In 1958, Murchison heard that George Preston Marshall, owner of the Washington Redskins, was eager to sell the team. Just as the sale was about to be finalized, Marshall called for a change in terms. Murchison was outraged and cancelled the whole deal. Around this time, Marshall had a falling out with the Redskin band director, Barnee Breeskin. Breeskin had written the music to the Redskins fight song, now a staple at the stadium; additionally, Marshall's wife penned the lyrics to the song. Breeskin wanted revenge after the failed negotiations with Marshall. He approached Tom Webb, Murchison’s lawyer, and sold the rights for $2,500.

Murchison then decided to create his own team, with the support of NFL expansion committee chairman, George Halas. Halas decided to put the proposition of a Dallas franchise before the NFL owners, which needed to have unanimous approval in order to pass. The only owner against the proposal was George Preston Marshall. However, Marshall found out that Murchison owned the rights to Washington's fight song, so a deal was finally struck. If Marshall showed his approval of the Dallas franchise, Murchison would return the song. The Cowboys were then founded and began playing in 1960.

However, it did not end there. To build the roster of an expansion team, Dallas was allowed to pick certain players from certain teams per League rules. Murchison selected the Redskins' Pro Bowl quarterback, Eddie LeBaron, who would become the Cowboys' first starting quarterback. Somehow, Marshall had forgotten to move LeBaron to the team's "protected" list.

In December 1961, an unknown number of Cowboys fans snuck into D.C. Stadium, armed with bags of chicken feed. When Alaskan snow dogs were to drag Santa Claus onto the field during the halftime show, the pranksters would unleash dozens of hungry chickens onto the field - 75 white, one black. The significance of the black chicken was to symbolize how Marshall was the only owner in the league who would not recruit an African-American football player; Marshall boldly stating, "We'll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites."

The chickens fit into two large crates, which were smuggled into the stadium the morning of the game. The chickens and the smugglers went unspotted until halftime, when a stadium usher noticed a man guarding the crates and heard the chickens. Though the guard tried to bribe the official with $100 dollars, he was quickly reported and arrested, and the chickens confiscated. As it turned out, the "official" was actually Redskins general manager Dick McCann.

The following year and the night before the third Redskins-Cowboys match-up in less than a year, pranksters snuck into Marshall's hotel suite and dropped off a large turkey in the bathroom. When Marshall went into the bathroom, the turkey puffed up and gobbled at him, causing Marshall to flee his room. "Chickens are nice", Marshall said, "but a man shouldn't fool with a mad turkey."

Just minutes before kickoff, while "Hail to the Redskins" blared throughout the stadiums, four banners reading "CHICKENS" - one at each 50-yard line and one in each end zone center - were unfurled in the stadium's upper decks. Two acrobats, hired by Cowboys fans and Chicken Club founders Bob Thompson and Irv Davidson (along with the University of Maryland students with the banners) rushed onto the field dressed in chicken costumes and began to throw colored eggs. One was apprehended by a guard, but the other proved to be too elusive. By this time, the band was playing the National Anthem, therefore unable to move. The lone chicken-acrobat reached into this bag and released a chicken, then returned to his egg-throwing. Running to a sideline, he then attempted to leave the stadium by jumping over a bench, but slipped.

A group of security guards then apprehended him, but he was able to break free. He made it back to the 50-yard line, turned a cartwheel, then ran and flopped onto the 30-yard line. By this time, only aware that the National Anthem was over, the two teams rushed onto the field in the middle of the chaos. In the midst of the ruckus, the man made it off the field and into the stands. Although the real chicken was caught, the acrobat-chicken was never apprehended.

The next day, while reporting the 38-10 Cowboys victory, the Dallas News scoring summary ended with, Attendance-49,888 (and one chicken).

From 1965 through 1967 , the Redskins and Cowboys, led by Sonny Jurgensen and Don Meredith, played four games against each other that produced a combined total of 222 points with only 10 points of overall difference between the two teams.

November 28, 1965, DC Stadium: The Cowboys quickly took a 21-0 lead on a pass play, a running play and a 60 yard fumble recovery. Despite Jurgensen's 26-yard touchdown pass to Charley Taylor, the fans in the stands called for him to be benched in favor of second string quarterback Dick Shiner. However, Jurgensen then drove the Redskins down field for a second touchdown to cut the Cowboys lead to 24-13. They then scored a rushing touchdown to make it 24-20. But just when the Redskins were gaining momentum, Meredith tossed a 53 yard scoring touch to Frank Clarke. Jurgensen was then able to throw another TD pass to Bobby Mitchell to make it 31-27. The Redskins got the ball the ball back on their 20 yard line with less than two minutes to go. After working his was down the field, Jurgensen passed to tight end Angelo Coia to give the Redskins their first lead, 34-31, with about one minute to play. But Meredith was not done either. He drove the Cowboys to the Redskins 37 yard line with seven seconds to go. Danny Villanueva was then brought in and attempted a tying field goal., but it was blocked by Redskins defensive back Lonnie Sanders. Final: Redskins, 34 – Cowboys, 31

November 13, 1966, DC Stadium: In the second quarter with the score 7-6 Dallas, Meredith threw a 52 yard touchdown to Bob Hayes, followed in the third quarter with a 95 yard repeat., making the score 21-7. Then Washington scored three consecutive times with Jurgensen's 4 yard pass to Jerry Smith and 78 yard pass to Charley Taylor, followed by a Charlie Gogolak field goal, giving them the lead, 23-21. Meredith then drove the Cowboys down field to set up a 1 yard TD run by Dan Reeves. But the Redskins matched their score on a drive ending with Jurgensen's 18 yard scoring pass to Taylor, making it 30-28. Meredith got the ball back with no timeouts and the Redskins playing deep prevent. Somehow, he was able to drive them to the Redskins 33. The Redskins mounted a strong pass rush to push the Cowboys out of field goal range. But apparently it was too strong. Meredith was hit just as he scrambled out of bounds. The penalty put the Cowboys on the Redskins 12 for an easy Villanueva field goal. Final: Cowboys, 31 – Redskins, 30

December 11, 1966, The Cotton Bowl: The Redskins visited the Cowboys a short month later with memories fresh. The Redskins took a 10-7 lead at the half after linebacker John Reger recovered a block punt and ran it in for a score. But the scoring would not end there. Danny Villanueva kicked a tying 26 yard field goal for the Cowboys and Bob Hays caught a 23 yard pass for the 17-10 lead. The Redskins tied it up on Bobby Mitchell's 11 yard reception from Jurgensen. The Cowboys regained the lead when Dan Reeves broke for a 67 yard touchdown run, making it 24-17. But, the Redskins then drove the field and scored on Jurgensen's 11 yard pass to Jerry Smith, only to have the Cowboys regain the lead with a 6 yard touchdown run by Don Perkins, making it 31-24. Jurgensen was then able to hit Charlie Taylor with a 65 yard touchdown pass that Taylor caught between two defenders, tying the game. After good defense, the Redskins got the ball back with two minutes to go. Starting at their 46 yard line, Redskins running back A. D. Whitfield ran right for a 30 yard gain that set up Charlie Gogolak's winning field goal. Final: Redskins, 34 –Cowboys, 31

October 8, 1967, DC Stadium: The Redskins led 14-10 with 70 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys took possession on their 29 yard line. On fourth down with 23 seconds remaining, Meredith hit an open Dan Reeves who beat out linebacker Chris Hanburger to score, making it 17-14. After the kick-off with 7 seconds to go, Jurgensen pitched a long pass to Charley Taylor, but he was brought to ground at the Cowboys 20 yard line as time ran out. Final: Cowboys, 17 – Redskins, 14

Washington would win the rematch in Dallas that seaons, 27-20, but the Cowboys closed out the decade with four straight wins over the Redskins. In the late 60's the Redskins hired Vince Lombardi to try to stop ex-Giants coordinator Tom Landry. Lombardi's 7-5-2 record with the Redskins was the team's first winning season in 14 years, but he was still swept by the Cowboys. Lombardi's untimely death in 1970 froze Redskins development for two seasons.

The Cowboys-Redskins rivalry was in full-swing by 1971, when Washington hired George Allen as head coach. During the 1972 season, Allen's Redskins met Dallas three times en route to a date with the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII. This is how the season progressed.

After a losing season in 1970, the Redskins' hired George Allen from the Los Angeles Rams. As the 1972 football season approached, Preseason predictors were touting the Cowboys, who had defeated the Miami Dolphins, 24-3 in the previous Super Bowl, to again win the NFC East.

The sixth game of the season brought the Cowboys to Washington. Both teams came into the game with a 4-1-0 record. Sonny Jurgensen was Washington's starting quarterback, with Billy Kilmer benched after a previous loss. Craig Morton was the Cowboys' quarterback while the injured Roger Staubach watched from the sideline. Despite Washington's home-field advantage, the oddsmakers favored Dallas by a touchdown.

A field goal and a Morton touchdown pass gave Dallas a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, which was extended to 13-0 in the second period. Jurgensen led a Washington drive that climaxed with a pass to Larry Brown for a touchdown, but at the half the Redskins trailed by six points. Another seven points were added to the lead in the third quarter when Walt Garrison scored a touchdown. But then, Larry Brown broke a run for 34 yards and a touchdown to bring the score to 20-14. Curt Knight kicked a 42-yard field goal to make it 20-17. Charley Harraway ran for 13 yards to make the score 24-20, Redskins on top. During this offensive scoring period, the Over-the-Hill Gang defense shut down the Cowboys. At the end, Washington had defeated the Cowboys and was in possession of first place in the NFC East.

Now with two games remaining, Washington was 11-1-0 and had clinched the NFC East title. An ensuing loss to the Cowboys (34-24) was meaningless. It was the first time since the NFL went to a divisional format in 1967 that the Dallas Cowboys had not triumphed in their division.

The playoffs in 1972 pitted Washington against the Green Bay Packers. The final score was Washington 16, Green Bay 3. The victory sent the Redskins to the NFC Championship Game and the opponent was none other than the Dallas Cowboys who entered the playoffs as a wild-card entry. The Cowboys, who had been runner-up to the Redskins in the regular season defeated the NFC West champions, the San Francisco 49ers, 30-28.

The game was played in Washington. Staubach was back for the Cowboys, and Dallas fans were thrilled to have him. But Billy Kilmer for the Redskins was the better quarterback that day. After a field goal got the scoring started, Kilmer connected with Charley Taylor on a 15-yard touchdown pass and Washington had a 10-3 lead at halftime. In the fourth quarter, Kilmer again went to Taylor, this time for a 45-yard touchdown. Knight added three more field goals that period and the Over-the-Hill Gang defense allowed only a second-quarter field goal. The final score was Washington 26, Dallas 3.


credit: Wikipedia

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rivalry might never have been what it is today if Dallas hadn't somehow gotten itself into the NFC East despite being further west than all of the NFC Central teams.

The official AFL-NFL merger story is that Pete Rozelle picked the league configuration out of a hat full of potential arrangements, but Cowboys conspiracy theorists still believe that Murchison and Tex Schramm wanted their team to get exposure in the big East Coast media markets (NY, Philly, DC) and threatened to throw a wrench into the merger plans if they didn't get their way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post buddy! Being as young as I am, I have sort of religious view of hating the Cowboys: I hate the Cowboys with all my heart, but have no tangible reason for doing so. Now that I know the background, I hate them more, and with more of a basis for doing so.

It also gives me an idea: why don't we pull pranks on those Cowpukes nowadays? Does anyone want to start planning some pranks for when the 'Girls come to town?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A great post!! The rivalry really started to heat up when George Allen got to town. He taught all of us how to hate the Cowboys. Diron Talbert was one of the guys Allen traded with the Rams to get here and Diron was from Texas. He said some pretty colorful, salty negative things about the Cowboys and their collective ancestry (and this was BEFORE Brokeback Mountain!!).

I really started hating them when D.D. Lewis (a Dallas linebacker) was asked why there was a hole in the top of their stadium. He said it was so that God could watch his favorite team. Complete hatred ensued on my part and it has remained unabated for all these years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A great post!! The rivalry really started to heat up when George Allen got to town. He taught all of us how to hate the Cowboys. Diron Talbert was one of the guys Allen traded with the Rams to get here and Diron was from Texas. He said some pretty colorful, salty negative things about the Cowboys and their collective ancestry (and this was BEFORE Brokeback Mountain!!).

I really started hating them when D.D. Lewis (a Dallas linebacker) was asked why there was a hole in the top of their stadium. He said it was so that God could watch his favorite team. Complete hatred ensued on my part and it has remained unabated for all these years.

I always said the hole in the roof was so God could PISS on the Cowboys

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i hated the cowboys since i started watchin the skins... they always seemed so arrogant and egotistical. and them being in our division playing us twice a year urged on the hatred. i hate the giants and eagles as well but not as much as the boys. Arizona never really threatened us back then so im content about them.

I always loved to see the skins and the boys play on thanksgiving... i think we 2 thanks giving games during the 80's i might be wrong.

its indians versus cowboys, humbleness versus arrogance, team versus team, owner versus owner, and finally fan versus fan.

i still dont know why some people that grew up around the metro area root for the damn cowboys, and trust me i give them hell every sunday when i see them.

i'll hate the cowboys as a team till the day i die.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

A bump, but so I don't start a new thread: according to Wikipedia anyway, it seemed like Marshall holds a lot of blame: not letting the expansion team, etc. Please tell me there's more to it, because it seems like Marshall was being a real ####.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...