Giants-Cowboys: All you need is hate

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith (12)

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith (12) reaches for a pass as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) defends in the third quarter of an NFL football game. (December 14, 2008) (Credit: AP)

There are plenty of rivalries in the NFL. But when the Giants and Cowboys look across the line of scrimmage at each other, they don't see rivals. They see enemies.

"They hate us and we hate them," Justin Tuck said this week. "That's how it is."

The teams have clashed every year since 1960 and twice a year since 1970, but the level of hostility has grown in recent years.

It seemed to come to a head two years ago when the Giants went to Dallas and beat the Cowboys on their way to Super Bowl XLII. Since then, any time someone with a star on his helmet sees someone with an "NY," you can bet on trouble.

There probably are bigger Giants rivals in terms of games. The Eagles spring to mind, especially given that they reside next to New Jersey and they've knocked Big Blue out of the playoffs in two of the past three years. And the Cowboys and Redskins have always been heated antagonists.

But when it comes to the Cowboys and Giants, lately, there is nothing bigger. Not in the NFC. Probably not in the NFL, although you'd have to double-check that with Rex Ryan and Kerry Rhodes.

"I know the old guys and the ex-players like to say the Redskins were their biggest rivals," Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said. "And when we play the Redskins, it'll be a rivalry, too. But since I've been here, we've developed a rivalry with the Giants."

There's a difference in the tone and volume between the teams.

"There's not as much chitter- chatter between us and the Redskins and the Eagles," Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton told reporters. "There's respect there. We kind of don't respect the Giants."

Whoa. Even in the war of words between the two teams, that's a low blow. And it certainly will get the Giants' attention.

"Dallas doesn't like us, and a couple of guys on their team made that pretty clear earlier in the week," said Brandon Jacobs, the leader of the Giants' chitter-chatter. "We have guys in this locker room who are going to make that clear as well. We don't like each other."

Crayton immediately backtracked from his "no respect" line, saying it was aimed at the Giants' ability to fill the Dallas bulletin board. "We respect what they've done on the field," he said. "They're a good team. We know they're going to be ready to play."

Once the game starts Sunday, the time for talking will be over. And not for the reasons you might think.

"For me, it's just a waste of breath," Tuck said of trash-talking on the field. "For me, I'm going to whup the guy in front of me. He is trying to block me or whup me. Regardless of what I say or what he says, it really doesn't matter."

But leading up to the game, all's fair. DeMarcus Ware professed his hatred of the Giants and Jacobs trumped him by saying he has a "bloody hatred" of the Cowboys.

Even when trying to avoid it, players can't help but let their distaste come through.

"I dislike all 31 teams," Antonio Pierce said while trying to dance around this particular showdown. "There's my 'hate' statement."

Sometimes players go so far and read so much into the back-and-forth that they take umbrage with insults that aren't really there. Pierce spoke about the Cowboys "choosing" the Giants to open their new stadium Sunday as if they were a I-AA team invited to a powerhouse's homecoming game.

Everyone knows the NFL creates the schedule and Jerry Jones doesn't have that kind of pull, right?

Right?

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