Cowboys 'Expect The Worst' in Philly

Sunday's Cowboys/Eagles game has been circled on calendars -- by players, fans and members of the media -- ever since wide receiver Terrell Owens signed with Dallas in the spring.

Most within the Cowboys organization have been spewing comments about this being "just another game" or "important because it's a division game," but there's not a soul even remotely connected with either the Eagles or Cowboys who believes a word of that.

Parcells, in particular, has spent the week claiming he isn't "caught up in everything" -- a loose translation for "the three-ring circus surrounding Owens' return to face his former team."

Owens' "accidental overdose" last week might have been the only event that drew more media to Valley Ranch since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl, or at least since Parcells was hired as coach. A verified Elvis sighting wouldn't draw as much attention as this week's game has.

Nevertheless, as much as Parcells and the players try to downplay the extra emotion that almost certainly will be felt in Philadelphia this Sunday, the Cowboys are well aware of what awaits them when they visit the City of Brotherly Love.

Whether the city can retain that title after the weekend remains to be seen. After all, the Philadelphia fans are the same ones who booed Santa Claus and cheered when Michael Irvin lay motionless on the field with what appeared at the time to be a very serious injury.

Parcells says he loves fans like those who support the Eagles, fans who are beyond passionate and will say (and sometimes throw) anything. The Cowboys coach grew up in New Jersey, and is used to the passion the fans in the area have for football, and for their favorite team.

He insists he's not watching the nightly news reports on Owens' return to Philadelphia, and that he's immersed too deeply in game preration to pay attention to the pre-game smack coming from each team's camps.

"The only thing I can't control is how the media reacts to the whole thing," Parcells said. "But they (the media) are going to do all of this, anyway."

But players admit that Parcells has shared his ideas about what to expect when the venture out on the field.

"He just told us to expect the worst," tight end Jason Witten said. "They'll be crazy, but they're always crazy up there. Coach just told us there's going to be 70,000 people there, cheering for us to get beat.

"I don't think you really can take that crowd out of the game. You try to, but I'm not sure it's possible."

Cornerback Terence Newman said the the crowd goes further than just being "crazy."

"It's pretty hostile up there," Newman said. "That's just their fans. You expect a lot of stuff around the seats, signs, profanity - that's just fans being fans. Their fans are just really good at it."

Of course, this game means more for Owens than for any other player involved (even if he won't admit it). But his teammates see the effects of his excitement.

"He's got a little extra step," Witten said. "You know he's anxious. He even told me something when we were coming off the field last week.

"He played there, so he knows those fans."

So what did Owens share with Witten when they left the field in Dallas?

"All he had to say," Witten said, was 'get ready.'

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