You Know, Eagles-Redskins Games Actually Used to Matter


There was a time, not so long ago, that Eagles-Redskins games actually meant something.

There was a time when both teams actually had star players, winning records, and playoff positions on the line.

There was a time these games were actually worth watching.

On Sunday, the 3-6 Eagles will take on the 3-6 Redskins at Fed Ex Field for a one o’clock game that only two markets in the country will actually see. Fox will be sure to bring “C” level broadcasters for this one, likely wanting to inflict Tony Siragusa on a much larger TV viewing audience.

Sure, there are some star players and some interesting storylines for this game. The Nick Foles Era. The maturation of RGIII.

Actually, that’s about it. And LeSean McCoy. And if you have any Eagles or Redskins players on your fantasy teams.

Those are your reasons to watch on Sunday.

There was a time, back in the late ’80s, when Buddy Ryan set the franchise on a course to relevance and games against Washington used to be must-see-TV. Anyone in their early-to-mid 30s remembers September 17, 1989, the day the Birds came back from a 20-0 first quarter hole to beat the ‘Skins on a last-minute Gerald Riggs fumble to win 42-37, with Randall Cunningham playing the game of his life just hours after signing a huge contract extension.

There was The Body Bag Game on November 12, 1990, in which 42 Redskins players were taken to the hospital on a Monday Night contest at the Vet.

OK, maybe it wasn’t quite 42, but it was a really high number. One guy died, I think.

Then there was the NFC Wild Card game later that year in which Ben Smith’s fumble return for a TD was overturned by instant replay (I remember every detail of these games with a scary amount of clarity, guys) and the Birds lost to the ‘Skins at home 20-6. That was the game that got Buddy Ryan fired.

On December 20, 1992, the Eagles beat the ‘Skins 17-13 at the Vet in a game that clinched a playoff spot for the Eagles, with Eric Allen knocking down a potential game-winning pass in the end zone with no time left.

These are my memories. Gary Clark, Art Monk, Dexter Manley, Mark Rypien, Randall Cunningham, Reggie White, Keith Jackson, Jerome Brown.

These two teams used to be heavyweights. When the Eagles and Redskins locked up at RFK back in the day, you knew some stuff was about to go down.

But it’s been a long time since these two teams have been good at the same time (actually, it’s been a long time since the Redskins haven’t been flat out awful, still waiting for their first playoff appearance since 2006).

This once great rivalry has devolved into two teams playing out the string in the same division.

Sure, there are the occasional great moments. But even one of the more recent “great moments,” Michael Vick’s coming out party in 2010, may have been one of the worst things to ever happen to this franchise.

If you think about it, this performance by Vick was one of the main reasons the Eagles decided to hitch their wagons to him long-term. Everyone thought this was the New Mike Vick, that what we were seeing wasn’t a mirage, that it wasn’t a fluke.

We thought Mike Vick had become a new QB.

But he hadn’t. And this game, against the Skinnies in 2010, is one of the reasons why Mike Vick is still a Philadelphia Eagle in 2012.

Even the good times end up hurting the Eagles.

Regardless, on Sunday, the Birds will try to win their first game in six weeks, and the Redskins will continue to just show up and play losing football.

On Sunday, these two teams will play one more meaningless game in mid-November.

Something they’ve been doing a lot lately.

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