It's just not the same. It's like Jaws II, Rocky II or most sequels that readily come to mind. The Redskins-Cowboys game Sunday simply doesn't have the bitterness, the intense rivalry, the national appeal of the previous attractions.
The Redskins practically have tiptoed through practices this week, barely uttering a word about their once-hated rivals. Of course, having 22 players who have no memories of past defeats obviously calms the air.
Surprisingly, all is quiet on the Western Front, too. The mood is tranquil in Dallas, compared with the past. There hasn't even been a suspicious observer at the Cowboy workouts.
"It's quite noticeable to us that everyone in Washington is approaching this game extremely low-keyed," said General Manager Tex Schramm, a keen observer of this rivalry for many years. "We know they put so much emphasis on our game last year that when they lost, it was a big blow to their season. I'm sure they're not going to do it again."
The Redskins had been anticipating last year's opener all winter after having been knocked out of the playoffs by a 14-point rally in the fourth quarter of the last game of the '79 season. Throughout the dog days at Carlisle, there was one desire (besides getting out of there): revenge.
Washington still lost, 17-3.
"We had the psychological edge last year," Schramm said. "Roger (Staubach) had retired, we had lost (Tom) Henderson and a lot of people were writing the Cowboys off. We came to Washington as the underdog and we felt we had something to prove."
The Redskins realize Dallas and Philadelphia are the teams to beat in the Eastern Division, but with four newcomers on the offensive line, nobody is shouting challenges, making threats or predicting victories.
"Washington has a unique situation with all those youngsters on the offensive line," Schramm said. "That kind of inexperience can pose certain problems. But somehow, in the first year, rookies don't seem to hurt you too much. They might not do things properly, but with their enthusiasm, they get the job done."
After the Cowboys' impressive 28-20 victory over Houston Saturday, Landry sounded the first alarm.
"The Redskins appear to be a strong football team this year. They have picked up the running backs they were missing and again their defense in strong. Next to Philadelphia, they have as good a defense as any we will face. You have to really earn what you get against them."
There was no talk of a conniving coach, no accusations of over-aggressive lineman (are you listening, Diron?), no threats of retaliation.
"It's not the same as when George (Allen) was there," Schramm said with a chuckle. "George put the rivalry on a personal basis. He and his players had the type of personalities to really stir things up."