Sunday, February 08, 2009

Further Dynastic Research

Time hangs heavy on a football fan's hands the week after the Super Bowl. Maybe that's why I took the time to complete the following study.

Great pro teams are almost always rated by their accomplishments over a period of time, not for a single season. Nobody rates the 1972 Dolphins as history's finest team except themselves. Indeed, there's an overreaction against that Miami team. Their ability is not given its due. In the three years they went to Super Bowls VI-VII-VIII, the Dolphins had a combined won-loss record of 44-6-1. That's some serious dominance.

What follows are the won-loss records, playoffs included, of what are considered history's powerhouses since World War II. They should put to rest any deluded claims the Pittsburgh Steelers are the team of this decade.

Methodology: I have given the team's won-loss records for each season from their first NFL championship to their last, except for the Pats, who I consider a work in progress, and in two other cases. I started the 1970s Steelers in 1972, the Immaculate Reception year, because that's when they went from lousy to good, and to keep the dynastic periods as even in time as possible. The other? Well, that must be explained when we get to that team.

Teams are listed in order of present to past, not rated.

New England Patriots, 2001-2008: 110-34
San Francisco 49ers, 1981-1989: 111-41-1
Pittsburgh Steelers, 1972-1979: 102-33-1
Green Bay Packers, 1960-1967: 91-25-4
Cleveland Browns, well it depends.

Here's where history gets tricky. The NFL does not recognize the records of the defunct All-American Football Conference to which the Browns belonged from 1946-1949. It recognizes AFL records, but there you go.

If we accept the NFL standard, the Browns record from 1950-1955 is 62-16-1. Pretty damn good. If we throw in their four years of utter dominance of the AAFC, the Browns' record improves to 109-20-4, which is the best of the bunch. In fact, their NFL-only winning percentage is the highest of the bunch, too.

That is irrelevant. What is of interest is that the parameters of true greatness seem to be mathematically established. Historical dominance seems to consist of these elements. 1. Winning at least three NFL titles. That's first and foremost. 2. Maintaining a winning percentage of over .730 (the lowest figure, which is San Francisco's) while winning those titles AND for at least six seasons total. That last qualification croaks the '90s Cowboys, who hit the wall very quickly after three titles in four years.

The Pittsburgh Steelers of 2005-? have at least one more Super Bowl and one hell of a lot more other games to win before they are part of this conversation.


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