Cowboys Get Leg Up on Eagles with Fans Expected to Attend Games

Ed Kracz

The Dallas Cowboys have gotten a leg up several times on the Eagles this offseason.

They beat the Eagles to receiver CeeDee Lamb in the 2020 NFL Draft, taking Lamb with the No. 17 pick, six spots ahead of Philadelphia.

They signed defensive end Everson Griffen earlier in the week, while the Eagles went with Vinny Curry. Both players are 32 and, while Curry is a good fit for the Eagles’ defensive scheme, but Griffen has 74.5 career sacks to Curry’s 37.5.

And now look at the Cowboys’ defensive line – Griffen, DeMarcus Lawrence, Gerald McCoy, Aldon Smith, and Dontari Poe, and maybe Randy Gregory if he gets reinstated by the league. That’s going to be a handful for any offensive line, let alone an Eagles unit that is breaking in a new starter at left tackle in Andre Dillard and a 38-yard-old rookie right guard in Jason Peters.

Now comes the issue of fans.

It appears that the Cowboys will be allowed to have them after it was announced on Thursday that Texas Governor Greg Abbott will allow AT&T Stadium to be 50 percent capacity for Cowboys games this fall.

Meanwhile, three hours south of Dallas, the Houston Texans will play without fans at NRG Stadium at least for their home opener, it was announced on Friday.

On Thursday, word came from Philadelphia public health officials that the Eagles would not be allowed fans, at least for their home opener on Sept. 20 against the Los Angeles Rams. That’s not likely to change anytime soon, either, as the season unfolds as hoped.

Brandon Graham was asked last week about not playing in front of fans.

“Man, I’m hyped right now,” said the Eagles defensive end. “It (doesn't) take me nothing. I can look at you and think you’re the enemy. I’m telling you I’ll be talking to whoever (is) out there. When I see that jersey, it doesn’t matter, fans or no fans, I’m going at him.

“When you see that opposing team come out and you’re like, man, these boys are trying to run us off the field. It’s just something about it, seeing the other. It has nothing to do with the fans, for real. They help boost it up, but I really do just want to impose my will on these tackles. I’m going to be just talking to those tackles. You can see I’m hyped right now.”

Graham then added, that “You’re going to be able to hear those pads, clack, clack.”

Maybe in Philly, the clack-clack will be heard, with Lincoln Financial Field empty. Not so in Dallas.

Is it fair that one team can have fans and another cannot?

The NFL has tried to maintain competitive balance throughout the offseason, but a home-field advantage for one team while another team isn’t allowed to have that is unfair. The NFL chimed in on this a month or so ago and said that it doesn’t give a competitive advantage for a team allowed to have fans and another is not.

NFL PR director Brian McCarthy responded to an email from SI.com EagleMaven on July 15 regarding the fan situation when it was first announced that the Eagles would not be allowed to have fans before the city backpedaled and said the situation was still be reviewed.

This is what McCarthy wrote:

“We are gathering information on Philadelphia. Regardless, there is no impact on other stadiums. Decisions on the number of fans at stadiums will be determined on a market-by-market basis with guidance from public health experts and in accordance with local and state guidelines. This is not a competitive equity consideration.”

That is baffling, to say the least.

Perhaps they will revisit the situation because it’s unlikely Dallas will be the only team allowed to have fans in their stadiums.

It would be equally unfair if it was Baltimore with the ability to fill its stadium to 50 percent while Pittsburgh could not. Or any other division rivals for that matter.

Asked about playing in front of no fans, Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said last week:

“It’s a shocker. I love the fans. The fans give the energy, fans give everything. They get my heart going, now it’s going to feel like a practice game, I don’t think my heart’s going to be racing anymore.

“I used to not have to warm up as much. I might have to warm up more for the fact that the energy from the fans isn’t there. We’ll have to find a way to do it. Might have to feel the energy through the TV or something.”

Get the latest Eagles news by joining the community. Click "Follow" at the top right of EagleMaven page. Mobile users click the notification bell. And please follow me on Twitter @kracze.

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