In nine years as a Redskin, Chris Cooley’s hatred for the Cowboys intensified, eventually honing into a beautiful thing like, say, a well-crafted ceramic vase. The former tight end and current ESPN980 personality gave me a few minutes of time during a radio break Friday to talk about what disgusts him about the Dallas franchise and what he sees for the future of the rivalry.
Gabe Hiatt: In your third game as a pro, you played against Dallas at home. How were you indoctrinated into the rivalry?
Chris Cooley: It takes a while because you get that there’s the rivalry, but until you start to know their players and know their fans and really look at what that team stands for, you don’t buy into the rivalry. In Year One it was the idea that everyone said, ‘It doesn’t matter what you do this year, just beat Dallas twice.’ You start to learn that’s what people say every year. And beating Dallas twice has such a serious feel to everyone involved. But then you start looking at their fans and the way they look at our team. Cowboys fans think the Redskins are garbage, which is funny to me because they’ve been garbage as long as we hadn’t made the playoffs as well. And you start looking at their players and the way, to me, they’ve always seemed to play with an arrogance of ‘we’re better than anyone else’ when they’re really not. After about a year and a half it was like, if I was going to beat one team every year it would be the Cowboys without a doubt. Again, lastly it just goes to that idea that they really believe they’re America’s team. They have no doubt that they’re the team that everyone loves and that they’re the pretty boys of America and the pretty boys of football, and they play like it.
GH: You had a three touchdown game against the Cowboys in your second year. Did that mean anything more coming against that team?
CC: Well it meant a lot to me, particularly because Bill Parcells told me that I couldn’t start for the Cowboys. The year before when I was getting drafted he said I’d never be a starter in this league. To have both meanings in one, to beat the Cowboys in a game that we had to win for a playoff run, and then against a coach that at the time I really despised meant the world to me.
GH: Are there any moments or memories, some of the older guys talking about it, anything that stands out to you about this rivalry?
CC: The thing that stands out to me is that there was a time in football when the rivalry could be so much more intense, because one the players were on the team for a long time and they were on either team for a longer period of time. Two, there were things that they could say and do (that you can’t do now). You could send a funeral wreath to a team, and it was in kind of good fun and it enhanced the rivalry. Now you’re ridiculed media-wise by saying anything about the other team. There were a lot of individual players that created that rivalry and made it more than it was… I would love it to be what it was. I would like for players to say more about it. I would like for older players, guys that are retired, to talk about it. I think that’s what makes football fun. In all reality, does it matter that much? No. But if you make it more than what it should be, then it’s entertaining and it’s exciting.
GH: Any predictions for this Sunday?
CC: Yeah we’re gonna win. That’s my prediction. I’m gonna love it. I love beating them in Dallas.
For more from Cooley, check out this behind-the-scenes look of Cooley and Larry Michael’s production meeting for the latest episode of the Mike Shanahan Coach’s Show. Cooley talks about what he’ll ask the coach as well as his upcoming Cups for a Cause event on Friday, Oct. 18, in partnership with the Loudoun Abused Women Shelter.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Chris Cooley, cowboys, Dallas, espn980, redskins, Washington
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