Harbaugh, a former Eagles assistant, was asked for a new book what made the Eagles more successful than the Cowboys over the last 10 years. Matt Mosley of ESPN.com shares the answer.
"Why is that? Because what Andy Reid and his program stand for is the opposite of what the Cowboys stand for. The Cowboys are a star system. It's all about building around individuals first and collecting talent, collecting great players. Andy has always been about building a team. And over the long haul, it's a team sport, and one of the greatest examples of that is what's happened with the Eagles and the Cowboys over the last 10 years. The Cowboys stand for everything that's wrong with the NFL."
Yee-owch. No one can accuse Harbaugh of pulling his punches, but is he right?
He's certainly right about the Eagles having a better decade than the Cowboys. It's not even particularly close. They've been to five NFC title games and a Super Bowl while the Cowboys are looking for their first playoff win since 1996. Even the most diehard Cowboys partisan would have a hard time accepting that part of the argument at face value.
Parsing further, however, doesn't do much for Harbaugh's thesis. Building a team is about collecting talent. That doesn't mean buying great players as if you're buying trading cards, but finding the line between the two is awfully difficult. Presumably one of the players that fits Harbaugh's star system dig is Terrell Owens, but he was Reid's before he was Jerry Jones's. Why does one side get credit for the move while the other gets slapped in the face for it? And where, exactly would Michael Vick fit into the reckoning?
Furthermore, the ultimate prize has eluded both the Cowboys and the Eagles. All of those trips to the playoffs have resulted in the same number of Super Bowl wins that the Cowboys have picked up in the last 10 years. Whatever missteps Jones has made in the last decade, and there are many to choose from, he's got three Lombardi Trophies to look at when another season ends in a bitter defeat.
Stockpiling talent, be it through the draft or with veteran acquisitions like Charles Haley, and developing stars certainly worked out for them in those days. The Eagles have had a very good run and Harbaugh may well be right about the reasons why, but that doesn't make the Cowboys everything that's wrong with the NFL.
The Cowboys are relatively successful on the field and fabulously successful at the box office. That doesn't superficially look like everything that's wrong with the NFL, and deeper digging doesn't do much to support the point. Does Harbaugh really think the Lions, Raiders or Redskins, to name three examples, have exemplified what's right about the NFL more than the Cowboys?
I'd guess not, because Harbaugh's a smart guy who probably went a bit too far in trying to pay Reid a compliment.