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LOVERRO: Redskins-Cowboys rivalry lacks bite of bygone years

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It's Dallas week, with the Redskins facing the Cowboys Sunday night in Dallas, and the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry remains on life support.

Yes, it was a great for Washington fans to witness the beating of Dallas twice last year, once on Thanksgiving to make the turkey taste a little better and a second time at FedEx Field to clinch the NFC East title.

But then you witnessed Redskins quarterback Robert "SuperBob" Griffin offering Tony Romo comfort as they left the field. You have the two owners, Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones, doing television commercials together and being sent to the principal's office together to receive salary cap penalties.

What is Diron Talbert's name is going on here?

Cowboys-Redskins heated up during the George Allen era (Allen hated the Cowboys from his days as the Los Angeles Rams coach, when the Cowboys would come to train in California). But it goes further back than that.

Redskins Hall of Fame wide receiver Charley Taylor once told me it was a blood feud game because so many of the Redskins players were from Texas.

"The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry was down to the bone, down to the marrow," he said. "I'm from Grand Prairie, just outside of Dallas, and my mom would get threatening phone calls when we played the Cowboys. It was an intense series, because about half of our ballclub was from Texas, so it was like a homecoming, with all the family and friends in the stadium when we played there. All the guys from Texas had to produce because we had to live down there in the offseason."

It goes all the way to the original owners of both franchises — George Preston Marshall and Clint Murchison. Marshall, who had the entire southern United States market, viewed Texas as part of that, and wanted no part of a Dallas expansion franchise in the NFL. The story goes that Murchison purchased the rights to the song "Hail to the Redskins," and held it hostage until Marshall relented and approved the Cowboys franchise.

Since then, there have been many stories that are part of the tradition of the rivalry, from Clint Longley, the backup quarterback who came in for an injured Roger Staubach with the Cowboys behind 16-3 on Thanksgiving 1974 and led a 24-23 comeback Cowboys win, to coach Tom Landry yelling, "No, Danny, no," on a critical fourth-down call in the Redskins 31-10 win in 1983 when the NFC East crown at stake.

Here's a little-known one from my book," Hail Victory" involving the late Pete Gent, the former Cowboys receiver who wrote the great book, "North Dallas Forty," and the great Sam Huff.

"Pete Gent is giving a scouting report on the Redskins on his television show, and he gets to me," Huff once told me in an interview. "He says, 'Number 70 in the middle is no longer the great star that he was, and he should have retired a few years ago.' Sonny [Jurgensen] and I roomed together, and I turned to him and said, 'Who is this guy? I nearly tore up the television because I was so mad. I couldn't sleep all night. I was determined to get a shot at this guy.

"I figured the only way I could get Gent was to make a deal with [Dallas quarterback Don] Meredith," Huff said. "When the captains met at midfield, I said to Meredith, 'I need a favor. Pete Gent doesn't think I can play this game. Bring that guy across the middle. I want to hang him out to dry. I'll show him who can play this game."

Huff said Meredith agreed, telling him, "Okay, I told him to keep his mouth shut."

But during the course of the game Huff said he forgot about it. "We're leading in the game, and I forget about Pete Gent for now," he said. "I'm calling the defense, and tell Chris Hanburger we are going to double blitz. I said, 'I'll go up the middle and you go in from the outside. We're going to get Meredith.' I go up the middle and nobody blocks me.

"Meredith still has the ball, and I hit him in the chest," Huff said. "He goes down and he's unconscious. That turned out to be the very play that he had Gent go across the middle on. This was the guy who was helping me try to get Gent, the guy I made the deal with, and I knock him out."

Cowboys-Redskins — it was once down to the bone. Now it's not even a flesh wound.

Thom Loverro is co-host of "The Sports Fix,"noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio andespn980.com

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