- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 21, 2012


In our family, pulling the Thanksgiving Day schedule together is tough.

Like most of you, we have to consider out-of-town arrivals, make last-minute meal changes and plan around football, figuring in who will be attending the D.C. Turkey Bowl. Oh, and we also have to remind family and guests that my middle daughter, Raneka, is going to be late.

This Thanksgiving comes with a new twist: No Dallas fans allowed.

Now I have nothing against Dallas. In fact, I became an admirer of its NBA franchise, the Mavericks, because of the ball-handling skills of past and current players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. And how could you not like their No. 1 cheerleader, owner Mark Cuban?

But to me, it’s unfathomable to think anyone who resides between Richmond and Baltimore could reject the Redskins nation in favor of the Cowboys.

I am not totally inhospitable to Cowboys fans. My youngest daughter, Andrea, even used to date one. (Thank the heavens that didn’t last long.)

Here’s the thing, though: Some rivalries are natural.

The Washington Times and The Washington Post.

Liberals and conservatives.

Sisters and brothers.

God and You-Know-Who.

Jupiter and Pluto (siblings as they were).

Ford and Chevy (I’m a Mustang girl and former Corvair owner).

Betty and Veronica (thanks to Archie).

Print media and the Internet.

Blush and rouge (didn’t know about that one, did you?)

Offense and defense.

Pro-lifers and pro-choicers.

Boxers and briefs. (Who cares about seeing David Beckham, when a girl can imagine Harry Connick Jr. in briefs?)

Cowboys and Indians.

The NFL Redskins and Cowboys’ rivalry dates to the late 1950s, when Texas oilman Clint Murchison tried to open a franchise in Dallas.

Having tried to buy two teams, including the Redskins, he ran into luck courtesy of Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, who at one point struck a deal with the tycoon that later fell apart.

Marshall was the only NFL owner who did not support Murchison’s expansion proposal — until Marshall learned that Murchison owned the rights to the Redskins’ hail-hearty fight song.

After further discussions, the two men brokered a deal: Marshall would vote in favor of Murchison creating a team, and Murchison would sell the song rights for $2,500.

Done and done.

So even before Washington and Dallas played their first game in October 1960, a natural rivalry between two businessman had begun.

That the ‘Skins began in Yankee territory in Boston and landed below the Mason-Dixon Line is another chapter of the story.

Lots of older black Washingtonians are what I call Cowboys sympathizers because Marshall had refused to sign a black player. He finally caved in 1962, when Bobby Mitchell became the first black Redskin to take the field.

Fifty years’ worth of history between two NFL teams and the fact that one owes its birth to the other underscore the dynamics each time these teams play — and when they play on Thanksgiving Day, even more so.

While I hardly expect tight-jawed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to dust off the Cowboys Stadium welcome mat himself, I certainly hope the game is worthy of the scheduling attention it’s given.

American Indians taught newcomers more than a thing or two during those first few years in this glorious land we now call America, and today the Redskins need to approach this natural rivalry as though the Cowboys owe us a serious debt.

Play good smash-mouth football until them ‘Boys simply say, “Thank you.”

Gobble, gobble. Family and football are Thanksgiving staples.

But once everyone and every dish is in place, there’s still one very important message to be conveyed.

Give thanks.

For the food and the people who prepared it.

For the health and welfare of those in attendance and of those who couldn’t make it.

For those whose blessings are manifest and those who are still struggling to find their way.

I certainly thank you, too.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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