Greatest NFL Franchises Ever
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The NFL has existed since 1920. Over that time, there have been 92 league champions.
Six championships were won in the 1920s by teams that no longer exist.
That leaves 86 championships by the current NFL teams.
Of those 86 championships, 46—or over half of all championships—have been won by only six teams.
These are the teams that have an overall excellent history, or have dominated in the Super Bowl era.
These are the greatest NFL franchises ever.
Tom Landry was a legend as big as Texas.
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"America's Team", the Dallas Cowboys are the youngest team on this list, having existed since 1960. Tom Landry was a young coach of that team, which didn't win a single game that year. Landry always wore a suit, tie and hat to games, and he coached the team from 1960 until 1988.
It took Landry a few years to get the Cowboys established, but they became the dominant NFC team of the 1970s. During the 1970s, they won five NFC championships and two Super Bowls.
Landry's players were not just Cowboys, but American icons.
Among them were Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Don Meredith and Walt Garrison.
Others were Dan Reeves, Harvey Martin, Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson.
Their only fault was being twice beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.
In the 1990s, the Cowboys raised another dynasty.
Jimmy Johnson led the Cowboys to consecutive Super Bowl wins, both against the Buffalo Bills.
Barry Switzer led the team to a win in Super Bowl XXX, giving the Cowboys three in four years. Only New England has equaled that.
The 1990s teams were led by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin—all Hall of Famers.
The Cowboys are a brand name among NFL teams. No team seems to attract the spotlight like the Cowboys, and owner Jerry Jones is one of the most visible of NFL owners.
The Cowboys remain today as one of the most loved, and hated, teams in American sports.
San Francisco 49ers
Walsh, Montana and Young led the 49ers to five titles.
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The San Francisco 49ers entered the NFL in 1950, after the break-up of the old All-America Football Conference.
In their first three decades, they made the playoffs only four times.
After a 2-14 season in 1978, the 49ers made a franchise-changing head coaching hire. They hired Stanford's Bill Walsh to be head coach.
Walsh was a disciple of Paul Brown. Just two years after his first team went 2-14, the 49ers won their first Super Bowl title.
The legend of Joe Montana was born that year. The touchdown pass he threw to Dwight Clark to win the NFC championship game has been immortalized, and is known simply as "The Catch."
That team laid the foundation for a franchise that would end up with five Super Bowl wins in 14 seasons.
Following Walsh's departure after winning Super Bowl XXIII, George Seifert coached the team to two more Super Bowl titles.
The 49ers were blessed to have two Hall of Fame quarterbacks back-to-back.
With Joe Montana and Steve Young, not only were the 49ers able to win five Super Bowls, but they won at least 10 regular season games each year from 1981-1998, except the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Following mostly dismal seasons since Young retired in 1999, the 49ers went back to Stanford to hire another head coach in 2011.
All Jim Harbaugh did was lead San Francisco to a 13-3 record, before falling to the Giants in overtime, in the NFC Championship Game.
Was that the start of another 49er dynasty?
Big Ben: Two Super Bowl wins in seven years.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers were founded in 1933. While they have won more Super Bowls than any other team, most people forget that their first four decades were absolutely miserable.
From 1933 until 1969, they played in only one playoff game, and had only seven seasons above .500.
The team hit rock bottom in 1969.
Prior to that season, the Steelers hired Chuck Noll as head coach. They won the opening game, then lost 13 straight. They were the worst team in the NFL, they had the worst scoring defense and they "earned" the first pick of the 1970 NFL draft.
With that pick, they selected a quarterback from Louisiana Tech named Terry Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is never in the conversation of greatest quarterbacks ever, but only he and Joe Montana won four Super Bowls.
The Steelers were especially dominant from 1974 until 1979, winning four titles in six seasons.
The coach and nearly half the team have been inducted in Canton. Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, "Mean" Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann and Mike Webster are all in the Hall of Fame. Owners Art and Dan Rooney have been inducted also.
The Steelers have been a model of stability for over 40 years. Besides Noll, only two other men have been head coach since 1969. Both have won the Super Bowl.
It took Bill Cowher 14 seasons, but the Steelers became the first No. 6 seed to win a Super Bowl when they beat Seattle in Super Bowl XL.
Mike Tomlin has kept the Steeler mystique alive. Tomlin has led the team to two AFC titles, and one Super Bowl win.
With a solid quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and one of the league's most dominant defenses, the Steelers will again contend in 2012.
New York Giants
The Giants have two Super Bowl wins in five years.
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The Giants have been around since 1925, and their latest Super Bowl win was their eighth championship.
The Giants were one of the best teams in the early days of the NFL. They won their first championship in 1927. That team went 11-1-1, shutting out 10 teams and giving up only 20 points all season.
The Giants also won NFL championships in 1934 and 1938 under Hall of Fame coach Steve Owen, who coached the team from 1930 until 1953.
Recently, the Giants have won two Super Bowls in five years, and four in the past 25 years. No other team has won more than three in that time span.
The teams that Bill Parcells coached to two Super Bowl wins had Hall of Fame linebackers Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor.
Phil Simms set a record for completion percentage in a Super Bowl by completing 88 percent of his passes against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.
With Eli Manning and their great pass rush, the Giants could again be a contender in 2012.
Ditka's 1985 Bears were perhaps the most dominating team of the Super Bowl era.
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The Bears played in the first NFL season in 1920. They were known as the Decatur Staleys then. They moved to Chicago in 1921, and changed their name to "Bears" the next year. No team has won as many regular season games as Chicago has.
George Halas was the owner, and he coached the team himself for 40 years. Halas won 318 games, second all-time to Don Shula.
The Bears won seven championships between 1921 and 1946.
The Bears won three championships in four years in 1940, 1941 and 1943.
They scored more points than any team has in any regular or postseason game in NFL history. They beat Washington 73-0 in the 1940 NFL championship game. That is one of the oldest NFL records still standing today.
Though they have only won the Super Bowl once, it was perhaps the most dominant Super Bowl performance ever.
The 1985 Bears were 15-1 in the regular season, then shut out both the Giants and the Rams in the NFC playoffs before destroying New England, 46-10, in the Super Bowl. The Patriots only had seven rushing yards and 123 total yards.
Three members of that defensive unit are already in the Hall of Fame: Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary. Walter Payton was also a member of that team.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers brought the Lombardi Trophy home two years ago.
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There is no team that has stood the test of time like the Green Bay Packers.
They were the greatest team in the pre-Super Bowl days, they have won four Super Bowls, and they have the team that is built to win more.
They were founded by Curly Lambeau in 1919. They entered the NFL in 1921, and Lambeau coached the team until 1949. Green Bay's historic stadium is named in his honor.
Lambeau's Packers won three consecutive championships from 1929-1931. They also won championships in 1936, 1939 and 1944.
Following some lean years after Lambeau's departure, the team hired Vince Lombardi as coach in 1959.
He took a team that had won one game in 1958 and went 7-5. His second year, they lost the NFL championship game to Philadelphia. It would be the only postseason loss of his career.
Over the next seven seasons, the Packers were the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever seen. The Packers won five championships, including the first two Super Bowls.
They also won three straight championships from 1965-1967. Only the Packers have done that, and they have done it twice.
Ten players of that dynasty are in the Hall of Fame. They are Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Henry Jordan, Ray Nitschke, Jim Ringo, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor and Willie Wood. Vince Lombardi is also in the Hall of Fame, and the Super Bowl trophy now bears his name.
The Packers fell on hard times after that dynasty, but things began to change in 1992.
That year, they hired Mike Holmgren as head coach and traded for quarterback Brett Favre. Favre holds every significant NFL career passing record. He led the team to a win in Super Bowl XXXI.
The Packers have been among the NFL's best since then. In 2005, to eventually replace Favre, they drafted quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers is now the premier NFL quarterback, and led the team to a win in Super Bowl XLV.
That win cemented the Packers' claim as the greatest NFL franchise of all time.