PHILADELPHIA - The opposite of love isn’t hate because the latter means you still care, hence the cliched fine line between love and hate.
If you're an Eagles fan who truly despises the "cockroaches" from Dallas who love ‘Dem Cowboys or even worse, the fans for "America's Team" in your own city, the emotion you should be searching for is apathy.
That's in a normal year.
In 2020, we have a third contender when it comes to adjectives and your feelings for the current Cowboys - pity.
Emotions always tend to block logic, however, and it's still "Cowboys Week" in Philadelphia.
It's "Sunday Night Football" even if NBC would like to parachute out of a game featuring two washed-up heavyweights whose fans still think it's Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier in their primes.
Maybe it's apropos that it's also Halloween weekend because the latest incarnation of one of the NFL's most head-rivalries shapes up as more of a dress-up.
“I was out eating a cheesesteak and I remember I had a fan tell me ‘Man, I don’t care if you lose every game,’” veteran defensive back Jalen Mills said this week when asked how he explained the rivalry to newcomer Darius Slay. “As long as you all beat Dallas twice a year, my year is made.’”
Mills' story checked off three important boxes - the cheesesteak, the obsession with Dallas over everything else, and the need to beat the Cowboys at all costs.
Slay, a graduate of "lesser rivalries" against the Packers, Bears, and Vikings while in Detroit, feigned an understanding but the long-time Eagles weren't buying it.
“Me and (fellow safety Rodney McLeod) kind of looked over to Slay and we were like ‘Hey, it’s Dallas week,’” said Mills. “He was kind of like ‘Yeah, yeah, I know.’ We were like ‘Nah. It’s Dallas week.
“This is the one.’”
This is the one?
A mediocre team trying to hold serve against a bad team with a third-string quarterback is the one? And here I thought Brandon Graham strip-sacking Tom Brady for the Lombardi Trophy was a big deal.
“I’m excited for it - to understand how big it is,” Slay said after his seven seasons with the Lions. “Me being over there in a different division, we took division games seriously, but I feel like this week is like a whole other feeling.
"It’s like Super Bowl or die. Oh my goodness. Y’all are serious about this. OK, let’s turn it up then.”
Anyone who has met Slay knows the veteran All-Pro corner likes to have some fun.
This isn't do-or-die.
It's 2-4-1 vs. 2-5. It's not even Carson Wentz vs. Dak Prescott any longer. It's for North Dakota State-James Madison bragging rights with rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci ready to step in as the Cowboys quarterback in the wake of Andy Dalton's concussion.
The current Cowboys have the worst defense in the NFL, one that allows 34.7 points per game and they also have the worst turnover ratio in the league at minus-13.
This isn't "Cowboys week," it's any other week.
Just take care of business and move on to the bye.
Or put on the costume and keep pretending.
Maybe the king-sized candy bar is looming and not the bag of pennies from the creepy old house down the street.
"I just don't really like the franchise, the organization (and) what it stands for," veteran center Jason Kelce said. "I think my feelings have been known about that. ... There's a lot of past experiences - not just with myself but with the city and this team that give it a little bit of extra emotion."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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