Records Aside, It's Still Philly

The advice to the Cowboys is bring the hatred and don't forget the hated.

While there are several team goals yet to be obtained, Dallas is in position to send a message. It was Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb who earlier this year proclaimed the road to the division title runs through Philadelphia. As much as his proclamation was despised, he was dead on accurate.

The Philadelphia Eagles were the defending NFC East champions. However, change is good. The Eagles had the right to boast and protect until someone stepped up to the challenge and removed them from the throne. Enter your 2007 Dallas Cowboys. Step aside Philadelphia Eagles. This removal is something the Eagles' faithful hoped to prolong for years to come. They did a tremendous job keeping the Cowboys and other divisional foes at bay. While their window of opportunity remained open with continuous post season play, to include a Super Bowl appearance, they were merely keeping the seat warm. The deal could not be sealed, and the coveted Lombardi Trophy eluded the city which lusts for a NFL title.

The sound you're hearing is the window of opportunity closing, and Sunday's contest presents the Cowboys an opportunity to slam that baby shut. Philly's biggest fear has come true. They're not only relinquishing the division title, but they're giving the keys back to the "rightful" owners. They'll tell you it doesn't hurt or matter, but they're lying right through their teeth. They despise the Dallas Cowboys, and this exchange hurts like no tomorrow. They hate the fact there is an enormous amount of historical organizational success in Big D. It's an absolute beautiful thing when any Philly argument can be stopped down with one simple statement.

Trophy case.

Hardware rules and the Cowboys are positioning themselves, whether it is this year, next year or in the years to come, to secure another world championship. The foundation is certainly there, and age is certainly on their side. Philly knows they let a golden opportunity slip right through their title-starved fingers. The division road now runs through Dallas, and come Sunday, the Cowboys have the chance to seal the acquisition with an exclamation point! A "cutting" message can be delivered in Texas Stadium, and Wade Phillips' troops can send Philly back home knowing the road to prominence is controlled by the Dallas Cowboys. The mere sound of that statement is music to the ears. Beautiful harmonies which haven't been heard in years around Valley Ranch.

Welcome home Cowboys.

Making matters worse for the Eagles, the anticipation of a quarterback change is imminent, and it will signal the start of the rebuilding project. Those are the two words no organization wants to hear let alone implement. The Eagles' faithful are clamoring for McNabb's removal, and while the mantra is popular now, they're going to regret the day #5 is no longer behind center. From the moment he was drafted (for the mere fact he wasn't the vaunted Ricky Williams) he has been booed and underappreciated. McNabb, like history, will once again prove you never know what you had until it's gone.

He deserved better.

Speaking of deserving, the Dallas Cowboys fans deserve to be Keyshawn free. Hey, once a NFL receiver, always a NFL receiver. The high-strung bravado never seems to stop. The calling out of Terrell Owens was childish, senseless and highly shallow. For some reason Keyshawn feels T.O. has inappropriately never given Bill Parcells any credit for the Cowboys' current success. Whether Owens believes it or not, the Cowboys' former coach deserves a ton of credit and thanks for the current condition of the Dallas Cowboys, but why is Owens responsible for professing such a statement?

Keyshawn fails to remember some very "key" points in this entire scenario. For starters, the coach wanted nothing to do with Terrell Owens. He did not want the player or the person in Dallas. Wasn't that more than a little obvious? The coach refused to call the man by his name. How extremely juvenile and disrespectful is that? The coach also mandated the way Owens would be utilized on offense and commanded Tony Sparano to keep Owens sequestered. While T.O. is currently having a tremendous and thriving year, its contested his accomplishments in 2006 were a greater feat considering all the limitations and wraps placed on him. The head coach simply refused to share the focus and spotlight with a dynamic player named Terrell Owens.

While many struggle with the delivery of Owens' messages and statements, a close listen is required. He tends to speak the truth and tell it like it is. T.O. is dead on when he says he is being utilized and showcased differently this year. The film doesn't lie. Owens is being utilized in capacities to highlight him for what he is. A playmaker. Something last year's coach inexplicably refused to do via sheer stubbornness and selfishness.

It's puzzling to figure out Keyshawn's motives and purpose in calling out Owens. Who knows, there may be a giant hint of jealousy driving the boat. Owens was brought to Dallas at the expense, and rightfully so, of Johnson. That must still hurt, but there's no comparison in the game each possesses/possessed. The Cowboys, mainly Jerry Jones, made the right call. Johnson doesn't carry the same tool box as T.O. Never did. Draft status and position aside, Owens is the superior receiver, hands down.

Hey Key, "Just give us a damn break."

It's nice to see commitment and hard work rewarded. Jay Ratliff may be one the greatest Cowboys' stories of 2007. While Romo, Owens, Witten, Barber, Ellis, Ware and a slew of others garner most the attention, all Jay Ratliff does is put on his hard hat and goes to work. What's not to love about that? Rarely heard, he goes about his disruptive and productive business anchoring the defensive middle. To say he has been an effective fill-in would be the understatement of the year.

There were many expecting doom and gloom surrounding the Jason Ferguson Game 1 departure. Many feared the middle of the defense would be instantly susceptible to the opposition's run game. Jay Ratliff merely took an opportunity and turned it into a noteworthy and vital showing. Thus, he is being rewarded for his stellar efforts.

Jerry Jones, in what may be the start of many, locked up the restricted free agent-to-be with a five year extension. Hats off to Jones, the organization and specifically Jay Ratliff. This single move will send a huge message to every member of the team. Was Jay Ratliff "thee" priority signing staring the Cowboys in the off season face? Hardly, but what an in-season statement to make. Do your job, work hard and be compensated for your efforts. What a novel concept. Jerry couldn't have singled out a better worker bee than Ratliff. Jones will get huge play out of this move. Just watch.

Expect Jones to execute similar moves from now right through the off season. Jerry has a very young and talented nucleus. He is simply fortifying the future. As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys are positioned to contend for years to come, and the fan base has to feel tremendous about that long-sought return to prominence. The future is very, very bright, and under Jerry Jones' leadership, with the contributions of many, the organizational ship seems to have turned for calmer waters and hopeful smooth sailing.

These are exhilarating times, and the exuberating can continue with the hammer being firmly applied to divisional menace, Philadelphia. The Cowboys can rightfully claim their seat in the hierarchy while sending Philly packing for what appears to be a very long and arduous road back.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving team. Donovan, you were right, the divisional title road did run through Philly, but that's a mistake which won't be duplicated for some time to come. At least not in the foreseeable future. Best of luck in your next venture. Hopefully you'll land in a place which possesses at least a hint of appreciation.

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