If there’s one cliché that’s accurate, it’s that we Eagles fans are good at hating. Our invective is aimed at the opposition, the refs, the commissioner, even — more than occasionally — our own. Our ability to loathe is not up for argument.
What has always been debatable, however, is the No. 1 target of our animus. As in Cowboys vs. Giants. As in the smug, fraudulent self-styled “America’s Team,” vs. the effete enemy at the other end of the Jersey Turnpike.
For me, it’s always been Dallas — as much for the faux Cowboys fans infesting our city as for their leather-faced, viscous hypocrite of an owner. But I understand that for many others (including most Eagles players I’ve ever asked about this) it’s the Giants. Each successive Miracle at the Meadowlands makes them that much more gleeful.
Turns out, I may have been comparing the wrong teams. According to a study of all 32 NFL fan bases commissioned by the analytical website 538.com, yes, the most-hated team among Eagles fans is the Cowboys.
But No. 2? It’s not the team of Bad Eli Face and Joe Piscarcik’s fumble and Tom Coughlin’s cherry-red cheeks. Or, these days, Ben McAdoo’s $5 haircut.
It’s the Patriots.
Hey, I’m surprised, too. Yes, most Eagles fans will swear that Bill Belichick screwed us back in Super Bowl XXXIX (I think Andy Reid lost it more than Cheatin’ Bill stole it). And we’re all sick of Tom Brady (the NFL’s version of Dorian Gray) and, let’s be honest, watching yet another Super Bowl featuring those Massholes.
But do we really hate them more than the Giants?
I’ve been leery of any public sampling since, well, Nov. 8, 2016 (look it up, if you must). But here are the stats from the poll conducted by Survey Monkey (which is more reputable than its name suggests):
For people who describe themselves as Eagles fans, 51 percent cite the Cowboys among three teams they most “hate.” I actually expected the number to be higher, but perhaps some folks are wary of actually saying they “hate” anything.
The Pats come next on the list, at 30 percent. The Giants are third in our hatred at just 22 percent, followed by the Redskins, Ravens and Steelers.
Hard to believe, Harry. The skeptic in me wants to punch holes in the data, and I think this could be the flaw: The survey asked fans across the nation and does not account for geography. So some guy who lives in Montana and likes the color midnight green may declare himself a Birds fanatic but perhaps doesn’t understand the depth of our division rivalries.
Or, a large portion of us just can’t get over losing that Super Bowl.
Anyway, the Eagles still get to face Dallas twice this season and also travel to the Meadowlands Dec. 17. I don’t think there will be any shortage of animosity for those contests.
The Patriots aren’t on the schedule until 2019. Unless of course, we get a Super Bowl revenge rematch this winter. In that case, we’re going to need all the vitriol we can work up.