New York Giants: Lots of Super Bowls, Not a Lot of Hall of Famers

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 8, 2013

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05:  Quarterback Eli Manning talks with Michael Strahan during the New York Giants Super Bowl XLII victory parade reception at City Hall February 5, 2008 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Random thought on a Friday afternoon: It's not often a team wins two Super Bowl championships in a five-year span without a slew of Hall of Fame-caliber players. The New York Giants might be an exception to that rule. And I'm not just referring to their most recent run.

Some fun historical facts: 

  • The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls, and seven future Hall of Famers played for both of those teams. 
  • The 1972 and 1973 Miami Dolphins had six Hall of Famers who were present for both Super Bowl seasons. 
  • When the Pittsburgh Steelers won four times in six years to close out the 1970s, they had nine Hall of Famers who played in all four Super Bowls during that stretch.
  • When the San Francisco 49ers won five championships in a 14-year span between 1981 and 1994, every title team had at least three Hall of Famers. Their final two Super Bowl teams alone (separated by six years) produced seven Hall of Famers.
  • The Denver Broncos won twice in a row in 1997 and 1998. Hall of Famers John Elway and Shannon Sharpe were on both teams, while Gary Zimmerman was on the first team. That's three in total, with Terrell Davis and Steve Atwater both still in contention to be inducted in the coming years. 

But those teams either won more championships than New York did, or they won them in a shorter period of time. Or both. Let's draw some closer comparisons: 

  • The Oakland Raiders won two Super Bowls in a five-year span between 1976 and 1980, just like the Giants. But Oakland produced a total of six Hall of Famers during that time, four of whom played for both championship teams.
  • The Washington Redskins did the exact same thing between 1987 and 1991. Both winning teams had the same Hall of Fame trio of Darrell Green, Russ Grimm and Art Monk. 

The Giants themselves did this exact thing two decades ago, capturing a Lombardi Trophy in 1986 and then another in 1990. What's amazing is that those teams didn't produce a great number of Hall of Famers, either. The only Hall of Famer on both squads was Lawrence Taylor, and only Harry Carson joined him on the 1986 team. 

Big Blue might do the exact same thing this time around. Of course, the jury's still out. But right now, I only see one Hall of Famer on the 2011 team and two on the 2007 team, with Eli Manning the only common denominator. From the '07 team, Michael Strahan will inevitably get in at some point. 

Who else? Well, it's obviously still too early to draw conclusions about stars on the current roster (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul), but it's probably safe to conclude that the two championship teams will only share one Hall of Famer, and that's Manning. 

The only dark horse in that regard is Chris Snee, who has those two rings and has twice been a first-team All-Pro. I don't view Snee as a Hall of Famer right now, but that could change. It's also possible he winds up getting in years down the road because the voters feel this mini dynasty deserves another representative in Canton. But that could depend on what happens with guys like Cruz, Nicks and JPP.

You could chalk this up to roster turnover. Only 17 guys were on both Super Bowl teams during this recent five-year stretch. In the majority of the scenarios cited above, free agency was either nonexistent or not as prevalent.  

Two modern-day comparisons (Warning: The next two bullet points will contain a crapload of speculation):

  • The New England Patriots won three times in a four-year span about a decade ago, and that "dynasty" was all about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But they have a lot of fringe guys, such as Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour. 
  • The Steelers won in 2005 and again in 2008, making them the closest case to the Giants. Obviously, that's so recent that it's tough to get a read, but it sure seems as though those teams will generate more Hall of Famers than either the Pats or the G-Men. You've got Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu from both teams, as well as Jerome Bettis and Joey Porter from the '05 team. And who knows about LaMarr Woodley in the long run.

So, what does this mean?

Is the fact that the two separate Giants mini dynasties and the Patriots dynasty have been so successful despite a lack of legendary players an indication that Tom Coughlin, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick are the greatest coaches in the history of the world? And if you consider that Parcells did it without a Hall of Fame quarterback and before free agency and the salary cap era, I guess that means Tuna is simply the greatest of the greatest. 

It might also mean nothing, but I find it interesting. Hopefully you do too. Otherwise, you just wasted five minutes. Sorry about that.