At the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday radio show on 94WIP, Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan was asked about the Dallas Cowboys and the rivalry game on tap this weekend.
First, he said he and his teammates don’t need any extra motivation for this one. But before he got off his mic — in a few seconds that didn’t make it on the air — Logan eloquently dropped a “F--- Dallas.”
Logan gets it.
No, maybe the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry isn’t what it once was. Maybe the days of Seth Joyner refusing to think about signing with the Cowboys because he just couldn’t wear a star on the side of his helmet have passed. But there’s still some bad blood. It’s still a rivalry. And fans in the Delaware Valley still care about two things: winning football games and beating Dallas.
Logan has been with the Eagles since 2013, so he understands. For Carson Wentz and his fellow rookies, this will be their first crack at it.
“I know how much this means to the city, how much it means to these fans,” Wentz said. “There’s a lot of excitement going on just with Eagles football, but definitely this week. I recognize that.
“But at the same time, I don’t let that bother me or let it distract me from the main goal and that’s just preparing every day. Because I know if I get sidetracked by any of those things, it’s going to mess up the preparation and it’ll affect the game on Sunday.”
Head coach Doug Pederson emphasized the importance of “business as usual,” but admitted this rivalry isn’t just usual. He’s been a part of it as a player in 1999 and as a coach under Andy Reid.
He took the correct coach approach on Wednesday, saying the Cowboys game is important because it’s a division game. And it’s even more important because the Eagles lost their first division game a couple weeks ago in Washington.
“It is a little bit different, but our guys have just got to come ready to play, and it's a road game,” Pederson said.
While this is Jalen Mills’ first time being a part of the rivalry as a player, he was raised near Dallas in DeSoto, Texas, and grew up with it as a part of his life. The most important games of the year, he remembered, were Cowboys-Eagles and Washington on Thanksgiving.
Mills said the rivalry was a “pretty big deal” in his house as a youngster. Now, he finds it pretty cool that he gets to be a part of it.
“Oh man, no doubt,” Mills said. “It’s an experience that I can’t wait to experience, but it’s going to be exciting.”
The defensive back said, without hesitation, the biggest rivalry he’s ever been a part of before was LSU-Alabama. The most important thing he learned from those games is that execution is key. It’s OK to buy into the hype during the week, but he realized it was counterproductive to change anything about preparation.
“You can’t get caught up in it,” Mills said. “Of course you’re going to hear about it, like right now before the game. But once that clock starts, it’s all about just playing sound football.”
Like Mills, Halapoulivaati Vaitai grew up in the Dallas area (Haltom City) and has been around the rivalry his whole life. In fact, both rookies have previously played games at AT&T Stadium. Sunday will be the first time Vaitai’s parents get a chance to see an NFL game. Eagles-Cowboys is a pretty good start.
And it’s not just Eagles rookies who are getting ready to experience the rivalry for the first time. Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott will live it for the first time on Sunday too.
How much does he know about the rivalry?
“A little bit, man,” he said on a conference call with Philly reporters this week. “I grew up a Cowboys fan. I can’t tell you certain games or things like that from the past. But I’ve always known it to be a good game anytime they meet up and a good rivalry in the division.”
Nah, not exactly Logan-like responses from these guys. But give them time. They’re rookies.