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So this Monday night it’s the Dallas Cowboys versus the Washington Redskins… a classic rivalry and “one of the greatest in sports” according to Sports Illustrated. But did you know that rivalry goes beyond the teams’ more than 100 matchups and dates all the way back to the almost-didn’t-happen Cowboys’ founding day?

 

In the late 1950s, Texas oil tycoon and founding owner of the Dallas Cowboys Clint Murchison, Jr. (pictured left above) was not the first wealthy businessman to attempt to bring an NFL franchise to Dallas. Lamar Hunt before him had applied for an expansion team, but was turned down, in much thanks to opposition like Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall (pictured right above), who – naturally – enjoyed his team’s monopoly on professional football fanship in the south.

 

But with the NFL’s rejection, Hunt gathered other rejected would-be NFL owners and formed the American Football League, or the AFL, and established the Dallas Texans. Not wanting the AFL to take hold of the regional market, the NFL quickly obliged Muchison’s request to start a Dallas franchise on the condition that all other NFL owners would approve, which brings us back to the big, bad Mr. Marshall.

 

Then fate stepped in.

 

As all of this Dallas talk was going down, Marshall had a very public falling-out with Redskins band director and composer of the team’s beloved fight song Barnee Breeskin. Breeskin sought revenge, and had his attorney sell the rights to the fight song – “Hail to the Redskins” – to Murchison. Essentially holding the song hostage, Murchison told Marshall he’d better approve his Dallas franchise or “Hail to the Redskins” would never ring through Griffith Stadium again. Recognizing the ballad to be indispensable to Redskins fans (and to his wife Corinne Griffith who wrote its lyrics), Marshall begrudgingly agreed to make the deal.

 

On Jan. 28, 1960, the city of Dallas was granted an NFL franchise and a few months later, it was announced the team would be called the “Dallas Cowboys.” (And Hunt’s AFL Dallas Texans soon moved to Kansas City where they would become the Kansas City Chiefs.)

 

That inaugural 1960 season, in the inaugural Cowboys-Redskins game, the ‘Boys lost 14-26 at Washington. But flash forward almost 55 years later, the Cowboys now own the series at 64 wins, including last season’s two-game sweep, 42 losses and 2 tie ballgames.

 

Tune in this Monday night to see where the ‘Boys vs. ‘Skins rivalry will take us in 2014.