When the Philadelphia Eagles kick off their 2017 season, they will also immediately begin another NFC East tour.
And in any NFC East tour, there are bound to be some adversaries. You know, the guys who remind you just why divisional games are considered rivalries in the first place. Some of them make headlines with their mouths. Some with their play. And, for the sake of the rivalries themselves, some of them, whether you admit it or not, should warrant Eagles fans’ support.
Most of them, though? Most of them Philly just loves to loathe.
In no particular order, here are 10 of the last decade’s top culprits from around the East — nearly a dozen Eagles enemies who made their mark in some of the worst ways:
1. WR Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys (2006-2008)
His Cowboys debut at Lincoln Financial Field was an event. Short-lived as his beloved, albeit tumultuous, Eagles career may have been, he stirred up enough controversy on his way out to be utterly loathed in Dallas.
What a match made in heaven for Jerry Jones — one of but many locker-room disasters for “America’s Team.”
2. TE Jeremy Shockey, New York Giants (2002-2007)
This guy was Odell Beckham, Jr. before the Giants had Odell Beckham, Jr. OK, so he didn’t have the acrobatics, but he did have the hair, the cocky attitude and enough production on the field to be annoying. He also never spared the Eagles even a shred of decency, earning the title of Philly’s “public enemy No. 1.”
3. QB Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (2003-2016)
He’s more than likely a nice chap in person (heck, all these guys are human), but he was never going to avoid Philadelphia’s disdain. He was a Dallas Cowboys quarterback.
And he was a pretty darn good one at times. (Just don’t count December/January). Throw in his celebrity girlfriend charades, his wide smile after deep touchdown passes over the Eagles’ secondary of the 2010s, and the fire begins to roar.
4. WR Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (2014-present)
You have to respect his talent. And there’s also something to be said for his efforts, selfish or not, to keep the fun in touchdown celebrations. The guy can dance. On the flip side, I’m not sure any player of my lifetime has better exemplified how to be both whiny and easily agitated at wide receiver. If pass catchers are divas, OBJ is Exhibit A.
5. DT Chris Baker, Washington Redskins (2011-2016)
His late hit on Eagles QB Nick Foles in 2014 may have been the only thing he ever did that unnerved Philadelphia, but it unnerved all of Philadelphia.
Jason Peters got his nickname, “The Bodyguard,” from avenging Big Ol’ Baker’s dirty shot.
6. DE Michael Strahan, New York Giants (1993-2007)
His career just barely dipped into this past decade, so his personality has long since evolved from pesky Donovan McNabb tormentor to Fox Sports talking head. There was a time, however, where his incomparable smile too often accompanied problems in the trenches for the Eagles.
I know, as a kid, I wasn’t too thrilled when he planted McNabb and then proceeded to mock No. 5 with some mic’d-up Chunky Soup joke.
7. CB/S DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins (2008-present)
The DeSean Jackson instigator of the early 2010s, he’s faded into the background of the Redskins secondary these days, but there was a time his mouth was as famous as his cover skills.
8. WR Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (2010-present)
Rarely one to keep his mouth closed, especially on Twitter, where this August he endorsed a fan’s claim that he has “a better arm than Carson Wentz,” Bryant hasn’t been quite as notorious for his off-field antics since the arrival of newer, more troubled Cowboys teammates. His last big scuffle was probably a pregame shouting match with Malcolm Jenkins in 2014.
Still, he’s exactly what you’d expect from a Dallas WR.
9. DE Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants (2003-2012)
Like Strahan, he had his fair share of highlights amid Eagles nightmares (see: Winston Justice, 2006.) He also liked to pick fights with the Birds, at one point calling running back LeSean McCoy “soft” and backing teammates who called Philly “weak” competition during the early years of the Chip Kelly regime.
10. DE Greg Hardy, Dallas Cowboys (2015)
No explanation necessary.
Honorable mention: QB Eli Manning, Giants (2004-present); RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants (2005-2011); MLB Antonio Pierce, Redskins (2001-2004) and Giants (2005-2009); FS Antrel Rolle, Giants (2010-2014); WR Miles Austin, Cowboys (2006-2013); TE Jason Witten, Cowboys (2003-present); CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, Cowboys (2008); and WR DeSean Jackson, Redskins (2014-2016).
Like Romo, Manning might get plenty of dislike for the good stuff he’s done for his team. (Like, you know, two Super Bowl wins.) But hasn’t he made enough silly mistakes and even sillier faces over the years to keep Eagles fans in his good graces?
In DeSean’s case, Jackson was exactly the kind of player rivals love to hate when he began his career with the Eagles — an ultra-talented guy with some ultra-cocky moments. So even if Philly prepared to potentially welcome D-Jack back to town following 2016, there’s no doubt he was cause for some irritation with the ‘Skins. I mean, when Jenkins and Nate Allen got into a shoving match with him back in ‘14, the Linc wasn’t on his side.