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Where does the Dallas Cowboys - Washington Football team rivalry come from?

The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team is one of the biggest one in the NFL, and this competition involved a song.

The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team is one of the biggest one in the NFL, and this competition involved a song.
Jonathan BachmanAFP

The Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team (formerly known as the Redskins) have been bitter rivals for decades, and the beginnings of this fierce competition go beyond just the football field.

It began way before the Cowboys were even a team, and interestingly enough, involves a song.

Murchison goes team-shopping

Texas oil magnate Clint Murchison, Jr. badly wanted to have an NFL team in Dallas, Texas, but did not find the going easy. His initial attempts at buying a team failed, then thought he would finally get his chance when he entered talks with the owner of the Washington Redskins George Preston Marshall to buy his team.

But the deal fell through after Marshall asked to modify the particulars of the deal at the last minute. This was unacceptable to Murchison, who then called off the negotiations.

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More bad blood

As it turns out, Murchison was not the only one who had an axe to grind with the Redskins owner. Marshall also had a disagreement with the team’s band director Barnee Breeskin, who had composed the music for the Redskins fight song, “Hail to the Redskins”.

The musician used the failed talks to get back at Marshall, whose wife had written the song’s lyrics. He made a deal with Murchison’s camp and sold them the rights to the song for $2,500.

After all the frustration of failing to buy a franchise, Murchison tried another path, which was to just start his own. He got NFL backing to propose the formation of a Dallas team to the other NFL owners, but he needed a unanimous vote for its approval.

A team for a song

The only one who objected to the proposal was Marshall, who did not want to lose a part of the south’s loyal fan base nor its implications on revenue.

Murchison used the rights of the Redskins song as a bargaining chip to get Marshall to vote his way- the Redskins got their song back, and the Dallas Cowboys, and a bitter rivalry, were born.

The Cowboys and the Redskins had their first game in 1960, with Washington prevailing 26-14. In 1961, Dallas started to play in Washington’s division, and the teams have been facing off two times a year in the regular season since then.

Dallas domination

Games over the decades, particularly in the 70s became heated and hotly contested, with both teams pumped up before every showdown and exchanging tough blows during the games.

However, the dominance of Dallas over the years has changed the flavor of the rivalry, which now appears to be a bit lopsided.

Before the two teams meet each other on Sunday for their Week 14 matchup, they’d had a total of 122 meetings, with the Cowboys having the upper hand, 73-47-2. With the domination of Dallas, it seems that the younger team has outstripped the older.


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