There are plenty of rivalries in the NFL. Division opponents face each other twice a season, so it’s hard for prolonged animosities not to build up. Throw in some postseason matchups that have become routine and there are some teams that really dislike each other.
Then there are the Giants and Eagles, two teams separated by a 90-mile stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike.
How heated is the contempt and competitive fire between the two franchises?
Consider that they last played against each other almost exactly a year ago, on Nov. 28, and that actually is about the least inflammatory thing that has happened between the two clubs in the time since. And while the Giants won the last time they actually were on the field together, it’s the Eagles who have gotten the better of them at almost every turn since.
The two biggest examples of this peripheral jostling have, of course, been the Eagles’ strategies in Week 17 of the 2020 regular season, which made sure the Giants did not make the playoffs, and their outmaneuvering of the Giants in the 2021 draft to swipe receiver DeVonta Smith from their grasp.
They did the former to abet another division rival (Washington) and the latter with the aid of another division rival (Dallas).
It’s as if the entire NFC East has been out to get the Giants . . . with the Eagles leading the charge.
"It’s a long history of bad blood," Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton said of the relationship between the two teams, who will face each other on Sunday at MetLife Stadium for the first time since their indirect clashes.
The one that truly stung the Giants at the time was the Week 17 performance the Eagles put forth.
To recap: The Giants had beaten the Cowboys earlier in the day to finish the regular season at 6-10, then went home to watch Philadelphia face Washington. If the Eagles had won, the Giants would have captured the division title. In the second half of a close game (the Eagles were not leading, mind you), coach Doug Pederson pulled starting quarterback Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld.
The Giants were incensed.
"Why on God’s green earth is Jalen Hurts not in the game?" Slayton posted on Twitter. "This is sickening."
It also prompted Joe Judge to launch into an epic tirade about teams giving maximum effort for all 60 minutes of games, acknowledging the Giants had not won enough games to make the playoffs but vowing his team never would have pulled such a stunt.
Washington won the division title, Pederson was fired shortly after and the Eagles earned a better draft position than if they’d won what was to them a meaningless game.
That wound up coming in handy a few months later. With the Giants drooling over Smith with the 11th pick in the draft, the Eagles traded up in a deal with the Cowboys to snap him up at 10.
"We were doing whatever we needed to do to get to the player that we really coveted in that draft, which was DeVonta Smith," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said on Wednesday. "I’m sure glad we have him."
The Giants traded back, getting a future first-rounder from the Bears and ultimately selecting Kadarius Toney with the 20th pick. The Cowboys? Like Washington in Week 17, they may have wound up the ultimate winner of this Eagles-Giants squabble. They selected linebacker Micah Parsons 12th.
Who knows what act of antipathy will surface Sunday between the Giants and Eagles in the next chapter of their relationship?
Judge grew up in the Philadelphia area, so he is well-versed in the long history between the teams. Sirianni is new to it. He compared it with a college rivalry and said he has the iconic photo of Chuck Bednarik standing over Frank Gifford after delivering a knockout blow in 1960 displayed in his office.
"I know Eagles fans think of that play and think of that hit a little differently than Giants fans," Sirianni said.
He also noted that he has "studied up" on some of the other plays and moments that have shaped the rivalry. There have been a lot, from the Joe Pisarcik fumble to the Giants’ meltdown capped by DeSean Jackson’s punt return. It continued last year in Philadelphia. The Giants led 21-10 late in the fourth quarter, but Evan Engram dropped a pass that would have sealed the win and the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 4:38 to win, 22-21.
"I’m looking at it from an Eagles standpoint, so I’ve definitely seen a lot of the good Eagles plays," Sirianni said. "I’m sure there’s plenty of good Giants plays in this rivalry as well."
Sigh. Not lately.