Most Cowboys Buy Into Rivalry Hype

IRVING, TX. - The names change with more regularity now. Gone are the "lifers" of the Dallas-Washington rivalry. Roger Staubach and Billy Kilmer are gone. Tony Dorsett and John Riggins ran into retirement years ago.

Randy White and Diron Talbert, Drew Pearson and Art Monk, Mel Renfro and Darrell Green: all long since gone.

But that doesn't mean the rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins doesn't linger.

For safety Keith Davis, who said he grew up a Cowboys fan, the intensity of the rivalry many consider the most intense in the NFL is as strong as ever.

"Everyone knows this is a big rivalry, the Cowboys and Redskins," he said. "Fortunately, we've come out on top more in recent years than they have.

"For me, one game in this rivalry really sticks out -- the one when (Troy) Aikman threw the touchdown pass to Rocket (Ismail) to win the game up there (in Washington). I was so excited, because I really thought we were going to lose that game."

Despite having grown up as a fan with an emotional investment in the rivalry, Davis said the intensity might have waned a bit, citing the Cowboys' recent domination in the series (Dallas has won 14 of the last 15 games between the two teams) and free agency, which has players constantly moving from one team to another.

Fellow defensive back Terence Newman is in just his third season in the NFL, but he already is feeling the importance of the games with the Redskins.

"I'm starting to get how big this rivalry is," Newman said. "Everybody says to me, 'You hate Washington.' But all I know is that we're 4-0 against them (in Newman's career). Hopefully we'll keep that streak alive Monday night."

Tight end Dan Campbell knows a little something about rivalries, having played his college ball at Texas A&M, where the Aggies' rivalry with the University of Texas is among the most intense in the nation. He says the Cowboys/Redskins rivalry is similarly intense -- for the fans.

"I really think it is more something for the fans than it is for us," Campbell said. "I think they're more plugged into that than we are, but then when they get into it, it reaches us more, too. I mean, when we go up there to play them in Washington, their fans are all over us. You can feel that it's not just a regular game."

Like Davis, Campbell said that free agency has made it harder for the teams to maintain the dislike for each other that characterized the rivalry in years past.

"I think that has a lot to do with it," Campbell said. "A lot of guys will play with a team for two or three years and then move on.

"For me, it's always special to play the Redskins, because I've always been in their division. I started in New York, so it was the Giants and Redskins. Now I'm here, so it's the Cowboys and Redskins. The Redskins game has always been big for me."

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