Giants have extra motivation after Troy Aikman's comments: 'Oh we've heard it'

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Troy Aikman during media availability
Troy Aikman during media availability

It’s been a long time since Troy Aikman has had an impact on the Giants-Cowboys rivalry.

Maybe that’s about to change.

The former Cowboys quarterback sure seems to have riled up some of the current Giants when he said they “aren’t in Dallas’ class,” during a radio appearance in Dallas on Tuesday. It didn’t take long for that quote to make it the 1,600 miles to the Giants’ locker room at the team facility in East Rutherford, N.J.

“Oh, we’ve heard it,” one player told SNY via text. “It’s all over the place.”

It’s unclear where the players have heard about it, whether the coaches are using it as “bulletin board material” or whether it’s even on a locker room bulletin board at all. But it’s clear it has bothered some Giants players and ramped up the intensity of their big NFC East showdown in Dallas.

Aikman, by the way, will broadcast the game between the Giants (1-3) and Cowboys (3-1) with Joe Buck for Fox.

Giants coach Joe Judge, not surprisingly, downplayed it all on Friday when he was asked about Aikman’s shot at his team. When he was asked about his players taking notice of the quote, he said “Honestly, I don’t know what you’re referring to right there.”

“We don’t even have a bulletin board in there, to be honest with you,” he said. “Everything’s screens and magnets and stuff now. We’re in the future now. We don’t have bulletin boards anymore.”

OK, but …

“Look,” Judge added, “these guys are all active on Twitter and all that type of junk, so I’m sure they see stuff all the time.”

They definitely have – even if Judge made it sound like he would never stoop to using something like that to try to fire up his team.

“I don’t think we really need any external motivation to show up and do our jobs, to be honest with you,” he said. “I think you need to understand the magnitude of every game you play. If we need somebody else to kind of get us in a mind frame to play, I think we have other issues at hand.”

For what it’s worth, Aikman wasn’t completely wrong in the full context of what he said about the Giants-Cowboys matchup. He was praising the Cowboys, particularly for their explosive offense, and said he put them up among some of the best teams he’s seen – including the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“And the amount of pressure that this (Dallas) offense puts on an opponent, because they are so explosive that there’s a lot of pressure for an opposing offense to feel that they’ve got to do something every time they have the ball,” Aikman added. “And if they don’t, they’re going to be down two scores. That’s going to be the challenge for the Giants.”

If he had stopped there, perhaps no one would’ve noticed. But he continued …

“(The Giants) are coming off a big win,” Aikman added. “But they’re – in my opinion, and I understand in the NFL anybody can beat anybody and all that – but they aren’t in Dallas’ class as far as I’m concerned.”

The Cowboys offense does rank third in the NFL averaging 420.8 yards and 31.5 points per game. The Giants, as improved as their offense may be, still only rank 14th offensively, averaging 384 yards and 20.8 points. They haven’t even topped 30 points once.

But the accuracy of what Aikman said isn’t the point. His words are just more fuel to the fire in a rivalry that’s been down this road before. Remember the 2007 playoffs, when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones put tickets to the NFC championship game on the stools of all his players before they took the field against the Giants? The Giants players found out about it right before the game, and then went out and beat the Cowboys 21-17.

Could the fired up Giants do something like that again? It won’t be easy, if you listen to Judge.

“In terms of what was said, look, this team is extremely good,” Judge said of the Cowboys. “We have to acknowledge this is one of the best teams statistically that this league’s seen in a long time. This team’s an outstanding team. There’s no getting around it.

“I think this is one of the top teams we’ve seen in a long time.”

He’ll find out Sunday if his team really is in Dallas’ class or not.