2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Aiming To Become a Dynasty

Todd FlemingAnalyst IMay 28, 2009

The 2009 Steelers have a chance to do something really special, to become an NFL dynasty. 

Following the Super Bowl victory, two Arizona Cardinals' stars, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald, were asked if the current Steelers team is a dynasty. I have plenty of respect for both of those players so I found their responses interesting.

Kurt Warner hedged, arguing that "they're going to have to dominate a little bit more over the next couple years. But you can't take anything away from what they've done over the course of the last few and how well they played." Nicely said.

Larry Fitzgerald, on the other hand, emphatically said the current Steelers team is a dynasty and compared them to the 90s Cowboys team. One of his criteria was the quality of the players and he named Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, and Troy Polamalu by name.  Good choices.

His grace in defeat is a reminder of why he was such a beloved player when he dazzled at the University of Pittsburgh.

But, even from Fitzgerald, it is an overstatement at this point.

Were the Denver Broncos a dynasty when they won back to back Super Bowls with John Elway and Terrell Davis?  No. They were a great team with some great players.  But, they needed one more win to get over the dynasty hump.

On this point, I side with Kurt Warner. I don't feel that this Steelers team can yet be considered a dynasty. Which brings up the question, "What makes a team a dynasty?" 

As a starting point, I would define a football dynasty as a team that wins at least three Super Bowls over seven years or four Super Bowls over ten years. 

A dynastic team should also have at least three Hall of Fame caliber players on it that are common to all three of their Super Bowl teams. A great rivalry during the period in question helps but I don't think it is necessary.

Under this definition, there have been five Dynasties in the modern Super Bowl era of the NFL.

I'd count the 60s Packers even though they had two Super Bowl wins. If the Super Bowl era had started earlier, they would have won more.

The Steelers of the 1970s are a no brainer as are the 49ers of the 1980s. I'm not sure I'd count the 49ers last Super Bowl as part of that dynasty since it was after a five-year gap, but that might be nitpicking.

The 90s Cowboys were also a dynasty no matter how much some of us Steelers' fans might wish otherwise, especially since they reached dynastic status by beating the Steelers in the 1995 Super Bowl.

The final dynasty is the Patriots of this decade. Dynasties are not measured by total franchise Super Bowls but by the individual achievement of a team composed of the same core of players. 

There were some teams that could have been dynasties but didn't quite get over the hump because they constantly ran into the above group, such as the 70s Raiders and Cowboys. 

Other teams, like the mid-80s Bears and the Greatest Show on Turf Rams looked like potential dynasties but they never quite got off the ground. 

That isn't to take away anything from their achievements. Just to win one Super Bowl is a great accomplishment.

That shows how hard it is to reach dynastic status in a league in which all 32 teams are loaded with all-world talent, even the Detroit Lions.  It really is an amazing achievement any way you look at it.

Dynasties were all but declared dead at one point, a victim of the salary cap era that would establish the reign of parity.  It turns out that post-mortem was a bit premature.

That assumption was blown out of the water by the Patriots with the Steelers now threatening to join them as the second dynasty of the salary cap era. 

Other teams, like the Eagles and Colts, have also built up long runs of success, even if their success hasn't translated into a collection of Super Bowl rings.

Will this Steelers squad get there?  Will they become one of the NFL's rare dynastic teams? 

Time will tell but I think they will clear that hurdle. With Ben Roethlisberger behind center and a relatively young all-world defense, I see them winning at least one more title in the next few years.  

Rare is a team that has a defender that is so good that offensive coordinators have to design their game plans around that player.  The Steelers have two of those players in James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. 

That presents a huge challenge for any quarterback, to account for both of these guys on the same play.  Failure to do so typically leads to disaster.  And the rest of LeBeau's defensive wrecking crew aren't exactly slouches.

The biggest hurdle for the Steelers to clear will be the Patriots, who might still have a couple great seasons in them if they can fix some of their defensive shortcomings from this year and if Tom Brady returns to form as expected.

Regardless of opinions to the contrary, a team that has advanced to four Super Bowls, winning three of them, with a quarterback as good as Tom Brady remains a threat.   

Plenty of other quality teams will be chomping at the bit to give Tomlin's terrors their best shot, to include the towel-stomping Tennessee Titans who draw the Steelers in the season opener and the Baltimore Ravens, still smarting from their three losses to the men of steel in 2008.

That should make for some classic games.

A third Super Bowl would easily push the Steelers over the Hall of Fame threshhold identified earlier.  It would make Roethlisberger, Ward, and Polamalu near locks and move a few other players into the discussion.

If they do get that next Super Bowl win, they will become the first squad in the NFL to boast two separate dynastic teams.  Nobody else has even come close to achieving that dynastic double.

I'm curious what other people think on this topic. What makes a dynasty? Are there any other teams in the Super Bowl era you would call a dynasty?


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