What was the “Bounty Bowl?" Revisiting Eagles’ blowout win vs Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in 1989

Former Cowboys HC Jimmy Johnson (l) and former Eagles HC Buddy Ryan (r)
Former Cowboys HC Jimmy Johnson (l) and former Eagles HC Buddy Ryan (r)

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys have one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL and it goes back many years. Back in the 1989 season, the rivalry went up a level on Thanksgiving Day. The game was labeled the "Bounty Bowl" due to claims that Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan had put bounties on Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas and quarterback Troy Aikman. Aikman was a rookie at the time.

Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who was in his first season, claimed there was a $200 bounty on Zendejas. The kicker had been released by Philadelphia earlier in the season. The bounty on Aikman was supposedly $500. Johnson told reporters after the game about his lack of respect for how Philadelphia played.

Johnson said:

"I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game. I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn't stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room."

However, Ryan denied the accusations and made light of Johnson's comments:

"I resent that. I've been on a diet, lost a couple of pounds. I thought I was looking good."

Zendejas was knocked out of the Week 12 matchup by Philadelphia linebacker Jessie Small with a helmet-to-helmet hit.

On this date in 1989, Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas was knocked out when Eagles linebacker Jessie Small, motivated by a $200 bounty from Buddy Ryan, hit him helmet-to-helmet.Zendejas was penalized 15 yards on the play for a supposed low block.

As for the game itself, it was dominated by the Eagles' defense.

Eagles defense dominate Cowboys in 1989's Thanksgiving Day matchup

In the 27-0 shutout, Ryan's defense forced five turnovers against the Dallas Cowboys offense. Troy Aikman went seven of 21 passing for 54 yards and three interceptions. The Philadelphia Eagles defense also forced two fumbles. Dallas has just 191 yards of total offense while the defense gave up over 380 yards of offense to Philadelphia.


Quarterback Randall Cunningham threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns for Philadelphia in the game. Since the game, both teams have played each other on the holiday just once. The game was back in Week 13 of the 2014 season at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Throwback to Thanksgiving Day 2014:The Mark Sanchez led #Eagles marched into Dallas and destroyed the #Cowboys, 33-10.LeSean McCoy rushed for 159 yards and a TD, Jeremy Maclin also posted 108 yards on the day.

Here, Philadelphia were victorious with a 33-10 score as running back LeSean McCoy rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles. As for the "Bounty Bowl," it'll be remembered more for controversy than the game itself.

With the Thanksgiving Day slot seeing another NFC East rivalry game, we will see if the Cowboys and the New York Giants can keep it clean. Given the importance of this clash between two 7-3 sides, that could become an issue.

If you use any of the above quotes, please credit WPTV and H/T Sportskeeda.

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Edited by John Maxwell
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