By now, the world knows that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is scared of the big, bad Philadelphia Eagles.
Jones has been lampooned nationally for the comments he made earlier in the week in an attempt to show respect for today's opponent at Cowboys Stadium.
Somehow a grizzled, media-savvy veteran such as Jones didn't know his words would be magnified nationally and not come across exactly as he meant them.
Jones has no regrets about his words, only how they've been interpreted. He wants it known that fear has been one of the great motivators of his life.
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"That's motivated me a lot," Jones said. "Afraid of messing up has caused me to be more conscientious, has caused me to be more prepared. I've said that all my life. Fear is a great motivator, great, especially in this sport."
And regarding today's showdown against the Eagles, who beat the Cowboys 34-7 in October, Jones said he is looking forward to it with unbridled excitement and joy, like a kid on Christmas.
"It's kind of like laying there the night before Santa Claus comes," Jones said. "It's an exciting time. It's hard to sleep. But it's a good deal. It's not a negative deal and carries with it all the emotion of what's at stake for us. You're allowed, I think, to look ahead to Santa Claus coming this time of year. I do that when I think about our team and where we are."
What's at stake for the Cowboys is potentially a playoff berth. The Cowboys lead the NFC East with an 8-6 record.
With wins in their final two games against the Eagles (6-8) and at the New York Giants (7-7) in the regular-season finale, the Cowboys clinch the division title, the No. 4 seed and a home playoff game.
After going through last year's 6-10 season -- which began with talk of a Super Bowl run only to see the Cowboys start 1-7, fire coach Wade Phillips at midseason and end the season playing for pride -- this is an exciting time for Jones and everyone in the organization.
"Absolutely," said Jones, when asked if last year's experience makes this year even sweeter. "I feel like it was yesterday, and I have a feeling that our team, everybody that went through last year remember those feelings. It's an empty feeling and you've got to manufacture some cheer when you're dealing with that situation, when you know you're basically through.
"We don't have that now. I think that provides inspiration and relates to your effort on the field. You have the opposite of that, where we are now, in contention. I just want to be having this feeling in January."
The Cowboys are well aware that a win by the Giants against the Jets in a game before they kick off renders the game against the Eagles meaningless. The Eagles would be eliminated from the playoffs, while the Cowboys would have a division title showdown against the Giants in the season finale.
"It's exciting," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "If you have blood pumping in your veins, it's exciting to be in this moment. The playoffs are on the line. We didn't have this opportunity last year. We wanted to be in this spot. We've got a chance to control our own destiny. That is all you can ask for."
The Cowboys are also partially motivated not necessarily by revenge but by pride of putting up a better showing against an Eagles team that destroyed them in the October meeting.
It was the only game this season in which the Cowboys were completely dominated.
The Cowboys have lost their other five games by a combined 20 points. The Eagles beat them by 27.
The bigger motivator for the Cowboys is the fear of losing, not to the Eagles, but losing the opportunity of making a playoff run that comes full circle to Jones' earlier comments.
The Cowboys have the history of last year's failure and other wasted opportunities in previous years.
The team's core group of players, such as quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten, linebacker Bradie James, cornerback Terence Newman, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratliff, have been to the playoffs three times since the 2006 season opener, winning only one playoff game.
"You do all the work to put yourselves in position to where we are right now," Witten said. "We have to grab it now. That is the mind-set. There is a sense of urgency that comes with this type of game. We have to take advantage of it."
The Cowboys signed running back Chauncey Washington to the active roster from their practice squad as a backup to hobbled starter Felix Jones (hamstring) and Sammy Morris. The club released guard Daniel Loper.
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