Which Rivalries Are Really, Totally Real?

In an article in the Times today, Justin Tuck had this to say about Flozell Adams and his assorted tripping incidents from Sunday’s game: “It makes me hate the Cowboys a little bit more,” adding, “I did say ‘hate.’” As a Giants fan, this is a wonderful thing to hear: Like most Big Blue supporters, we can’t stand the Cowboys, but it’s not always the case that the actual players on supposed “rival” teams share in this sentiment.

It’s not a completely rare phenomenon, of course. Jets-Patriots, for example, has become a Real Rivalry, thanks to coaches that hated each other and the Jets’ decision to be badass this year. Rangers-Devils has always been a big game, but Sean Avery and Martin Brodeur’s legitimate dislike for each other ramped it up to Real Rivalry status two seasons ago. (And their handshake-line drama was nothing compared to the Red Wings’ Dino Ciccarelli famously shaking rival Claude Lemieux’s “friggin hand.”)

Of course, there always exists a Rivalry Realness Pendulum, as best evidenced by the Red Sox and Yankees over the past 30 or so years. Once upon a time, Fisk and Munson hated each other just as much as Sox fans hated Bucky F. Dent. But as Sox fans’ hatred of the Yankees grew (Wade Boggs celebrating on a horse, Roger Clemens winning rings in pinstripes), there was little bad blood between players. These days it can be hard to pin down: Even when the the fans’ rivalry reached its apex in 2003 and 2004, and Jason Varitek was punching Alex Rodriguez and Don Zimmer was attacking Pedro Martinez, guys like A-Rod and David Ortiz were still pals. These days, Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter are basically BFFs. It’s disgusting, really.

We’re sure we’re leaving out plenty of examples of teams who hate each other as much as their fans do — that’s what the comments section is for — but this is all a long-winded way of saying this: We can’t wait until the Giants-Cowboys game at the Meadowlands in December. And in case some shit goes down, we’ve all got your back, Justin.

Which Rivalries Are Really, Totally Real?