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Football Dynasty

What is a football dynasty? What are the criteria? The most SuperBowl wins? The most Super Bowl appearances? Can you have a football dynasty without Super Bowl wins? How is a dynasty built?

In my opinion, there must be a number of Super Bowl wins in a specified period of time to qualify as a dynasty. I propose that a minimum of 3 Super Bowl appearances with at least two wins in a five year period is the qualifier to be known as a dynasty.

Using this criteria, there have only been three football dynasties since the first Super Bowl in 1967.


Wow, lots of passion about the 49ers! I am a huge 49er fan, having lived in the Bay Area for 12 years. I was there for a couple of Super Bowls and remember TO when he was just a very quiet rookie named Terrell Owens. The Niners are the consensus dynasty team of the 1980's, but I tried to look at the definition of a dynasty a bit differently and let the chips fall where they may. 

The first of these begin with the 1974 Steelers, then the 1975 Steelers, they skipped 2 years and then won 2 more SuperBowls in '79 & 80, qualifying with the three appearances with the two win minimum (and an extra Super Bowl win for good measure). What were the mainstays of this dynasty? Give credit to Coach Chuck Noll and the successful Steeler drafts. Hall of Famers "Mean" Joe Greene in 1969, Terry Bradshaw and Mel Blount in 1970, Jack Ham in 1971, Franco Harris in 1972, and finally, in 1974, Noll selected four Hall of Famers in one draft year, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Jack Lambert. The Pittsburgh Steelers' 1974 draft was the best ever - no other team has ever drafted four future Hall of Famers in one year. In that six year, 4 Super Bowl run, the Steelers had a 67-20-1 record. The inevitable decline occurred as their stars aged and retired and injuries took their toll.

The second dynasty was the ‘92, ‘93 and ‘95 Cowboys. What was the core of this Dallas dynasty? Successful draft selections in '88, '89, '90 brought The Triplets. Irvin, Aikman and Smith in that order. Toss in the Herschel Walker trade and the Cowboys got a chance to beef up their defense at the same time and this dynasty had its building blocks. As always, time and injury took their toll. According to some, a clash of personalities between owner and coach and star quarterback and coach was as devastating as bodily injury and father time.  The draft, as it was with the Steelers, laid the foundation for dominance. Where this Cowboys team differed from Pittsburgh was in the lack of continuity in the coaching staff.  

The New England Patriots in '01, '03 and '04 is the most recent and may be the last ever NFL football dynasty. In 1994 Bob Kraft bought the team to keep it in New England and hired Bill Belichick as head coach in 2000. Bill Parcells had left the Pats earlier after only two years after an argument with Kraft over personnel decisions, it appears that Belichick has managed to exercise more control. Coach Belichick is a student of the game and has consulted with Bill Walsh to learn about organization and Walsh's offense. Belichick consulted with Jimmy Johnson to learn draft techniques and contract negotiations. He has learned his lessons well. Bill Belichick has also developed an extensive coaching tree of assistants and mentors - some of who have made a career in NCAA football and give their old associate valuable tips on later round draft prospects. Bill Belichick has built the Patriots dynasty by developing a ‘plug and play' system  that allows him to lose starters but then plug in reserves who can play with little drop off. This is due to excellent drafting in the mid and late rounds.

The one constant in building these three dynasties was the draft. The Steelers dynasty began with having perhaps the most successful draft in football history, while the Cowboys diligently used their number ones to add a solid core. The Herschel Walker trade was the tipping point for the Cowboys immediate success, because the Cowboys may never have had the ability to build that critical mass of solid players over such a short period of time without it.

The league is set up to discourage dynasty building. The more you succeed, the lower you pick in the draft. The more success you have, the more your key players become targets in free agency. The salary cap makes it difficult for teams to continue to pay their stars demands for higher compensation. The punishing nature of the game and injuries create a very small window of opportunity for a team to gel and have success. The Belichick model is the best model under the current circumstances presented by free agency and league parity rules. Draft well in the mid and late rounds, draft to fit your system and develop players. This keeps costs down and productivity high.

The Cowboys have extra picks in this upcoming draft and have a chance to emulate the Belichick model. What strategy will the Cowboys employ? I expect they will do some horse trading to get in position to select a special talent. I, for one, am looking forward to see how they use their mid-round picks.

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