As an Eagles fan it is somewhat bittersweet to see the Cowboys play their final home game in Texas Stadium on Saturday. There were some good Eagles memories in the stadium, and there were bad ones as well (more bad ones than good I’d say). While I feel that there is no place I would rather see the Cowboys play than their dump with a hole on top, it will be nice, as a fan of the game, to see a storied franchise move in to a new home.
So as the end of Texas Stadium comes tonight (barring some upsets in the playoffs in the Cowboys’ favor), let us take a trip down memory lane and look at the top five Eagles moments in Texas Stadium, in no particular order.
1. “Merry Christmas Philadelphia!” It is a moment that will live on in the memories of Eagles fans for a long time. With Donovan McNabb out for the remainder of the 2006 season Jeff Garcia stepped in and gave the team a new energy, propelling them in to the playoffs. That Eagles team had to do something that had never been done before in the NFL; play three straight road games against division rivals. The highlight of that stretch (the Eagles won all three games) was Christmas day in Dallas. Tony Romo could no nothing against the Eagles defense and the rest of the Cowboys could not get anything done either.
After the 23-7 victory by the Eagles Garcia said on national tv as he left the field, “Merry Christmas Philadelphia!” That comment, along with his 238 passing yards and touchdown, permanently etched Garcia’s name in the lore of Philadelphia fans, and created a new batch of Anti-McNabb sentiment. The Eagles may have played the role of Grinch after the season, letting Garcia walk and sign with Tampa Bay. Thanks for the memories Jeff! Now take a hike.
Jeff Garcia became a fan favorite, and beating Dallas on Christmas helped.
2. Donovan McNabb might still be scrambling today. The year the Eagles went to the Super Bowl after acquiring Terrell Owens they played a Monday Night game in Texas Stadium. The game itself was a romp as the Eagles were by far the class of the NFC and the Cowboys were still going through a downtime and could not compete with the Birds. Perhaps no play better demonstrated the superiority of the Eagles than this play in which McNabb scrambled away from Dallas defenders for 14.1 seconds, resulting in a sixty yard pass to Freddie Mitchell (it was one of four catches Mitchell had as an Eagle I believe).
I still remember watching this highlight in the union building on a big screen for a social evening of football. Great play.
3. Ugh, Tom Hutton. I don’t want to rehash this one in full detail. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s just leave it at that.
4. Bounty Bowl. The Buddy Ryan Era sure was fun. In a time where coaches today speak highly of their opponents and are politically correct I don’t think Ryan would last long. Maybe he could survive in Philadelphia, as he still remains one of the most popular coaches in the history of the Philadelphia sports scene. It was games like the infamous “Bounty Bowl” that made Ryan popular with the fans of Philadelphia.
The “Bounty Bowl” was a 27-0 shellacking of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, the worst Thanksgiving loss in franchise history and the only shutout. After getting pasted in the heated contest Jimmy Johnson was quoted as saying that he believed that Ryan had put out a bounty on two Cowboys players, Troy Aikman and kicker Luis Zendejas. Zendejas left the game with a concussion after getting whacked by Jessie Small after a kickoff. Johnson went on…
“I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game, I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn’t stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room.”
Buddy Ryan’s response?
“I resent that. I’ve been on a diet, lost a couple of pounds. I thought I was looking good.”
5. Pickle juice. To open the 2000 season the Eagles faced the Cowboys in 109 degrees in Texas Stadium. What better way to get an edge than by drinking pickle juice. Really? You betcha.
Head trainer Rick Burkholder recommended that the players drink it and it must have worked. A young McNabb threw for 130 yards in going 16-28 and Duce Staley rushed for over 200 yards in a 41-14 beat down of the Cowboys. The defense sacked Troy Aikman five times, giving him a concussion in the process and sent Joey Galloway to the injured list for the season with a knee injury.
So let me get this straight. The Eagles played in 109 degrees, McNabb had a good game and there were no reports of him tossing his cookies? The running game produced over 200 yards of offense? My how the times have changed…
One thing still remains true though. Texas Stadium is a dump.