NFC East: 2011 Flash Points NFC

What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Cowboys -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 27.

Any franchise that puts a star in the middle of its field and carries the nickname “America’s Team” should have more than a few moments worth remembering. The funny thing about the Dallas Cowboys is that it isn’t that hard to nail down the turning points in the franchise’s history. The Cowboys basically had nothing going for them until a stoic, stone-faced revolutionary showed up in 1960 armed with a fedora to wear on game days and all sorts of crazy ideas about flex defenses and shotgun formations. Tom Landry didn’t claim his first conference title until 1966 -- six years after his hiring in Dallas -- but hardly anybody remembers that wait for success today. What they do recall is that Landry was the central figure in the Cowboys’ success for 29 years, right until the day new owner Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989.

Sure, Jones created instant controversy when he fired Landry. But the maverick owner with a con man’s grin had a vision that worked just fine on its own. He hired an old buddy from college named Jimmy Johnson, set him loose on the NFL and won two Super Bowls within the next five years. The only downside was Jones’ ego. It led to an eventual split between him and Johnson in 1994, and Jones never hired another dynamic coach until Bill Parcells arrived in 2003.

As we all know, the Cowboys have yet to regain the dominance that was their trademark in the 1990s. But we also have to accept something else: Whether in good times or bad, they’ve always been a franchise that has kept things interesting.

What is your Cowboys defining moment? If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.
What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Giants -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 27.

When you talk about teams that understand the value of taking chances, you have to mention the New York Giants. This organization started when Tim Mara, a legal bookmaker at the time, paid $500 to purchase the team in 1925.

Mara’s sons, Wellington and Jack, moved into the family business when they graduated from college and they also displayed a knack for progressive thinking. The Giants easily could’ve pocketed the bundles of money generated by the New York market in the 1960s. Instead, the Mara brothers agreed to a revenue-sharing model that enables franchises in smaller markets to remain viable today.

In short, the Giants were changing the game then and they kept doing it when George Young became their general manager in 1979. It’s an understatement to say the Giants were in chaos at that point. The same storied franchise that had won three NFL titles before 1957 and reached the title game five times from 1958 to 1963 had enjoyed only two winning seasons between 1964 and 1978.

But Young clearly knew what he was doing. He hired an up-and-coming coach named Bill Parcells. He found a one-man wrecking crew in the 1981 draft, an outside linebacker from North Carolina who was adept at pummeling quarterbacks in ways the league had never seen. Lawrence Taylor was easily the biggest draft pick for a Giants team that won two Super Bowls with him on their defense.

The trade that brought quarterback Eli Manning to New York in 2004 is one that you’d have to put second on that list of critical draft-day decisions. All he did was deliver a Super Bowl win over the then-undefeated New England Patriots four years later. That victory, just like most everything else the Giants have done, proved one thing: This is one franchise that has had a feel for gambling since the day it was born.

What is your Giants defining moment? If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.
What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Eagles -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 27.

The Eagles, in many ways, are a franchise that was built for Philadelphia. They’ve known a thing or two about struggling over the years but they’ve also had a knack for reinventing and reviving themselves just when you think they’re never going to win.

They did it back in the late 1940s, when they went from being an irrelevant team to one that won back-to-back NFL championships in 1948 and 1949 (the Eagles also became the only team to win consecutive titles by shutting out both of their opponents).

By the time, the Eagles hired Dick Vermeil as head coach in 1976, they were right back in the NFL’s cellar. What nobody knew was how quickly that young, upstart leader fresh off the sidelines of UCLA would find his way in the league. Vermeil made up for his lack of experience with an energy and enthusiasm that helped lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in 1980. Though Vermeil eventually burned out in that city, he left a clear image of what Philadelphia needed in a head coach.

When Andy Reid came to town in 1999, he had a similar ability to turn things around in a hurry. He found his franchise quarterback in Donovan McNabb and those two enjoyed a tremendous run: eight playoff appearances, five NFC East championships, five NFC title game appearances and one Super Bowl.

That duo unfortunately didn’t last forever, as Reid traded McNabb to Washington last offseason. But it did remind Eagles fans of something they should never forget. Whenever this franchise has been down, it’s always found a way to work itself back into contention.

What is your Eagles defining moment? If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.
What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Redskins --for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 27.

The Redskins have been so dysfunctional for most of the past decade that it’s easy to forget why their fans have been so frustrated. Remember, this used to be one of the most reliable franchises in all of pro football. The Redskins were defined by shrewd personnel decisions, such as the deal that brought quarterback Sonny Jurgensen to town in 1964. They were blessed with one legendary coach who was known for his vibrant, infectious nature (George Allen) and another so cerebral that he looked like he was teaching a calculus course from the sideline on game days (Joe Gibbs).

Then Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999 and everything changed. This isn’t to say that Snyder doesn’t want to win as much as his predecessors. It’s just that he hasn’t quite discovered what it took to create the history that his fan base fondly remembers.

What those people know all too well is that there was a time when it didn’t matter who wore the uniform; the team just won year in and year out. There was an undeniable style to the Redskins, a certain business-like approach that set them apart from everybody else and resulted in memorable championship runs. This is still a team that won three Super Bowls under Gibbs with three different quarterbacks, and that accomplishment says plenty about this organization’s consistency. That dependability helped make Washington one of the most valued franchises in all of professional sports. It’s also the biggest reason that supporters still expect so much from it.

What is your Redskins defining moment? If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.

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