1960’s: Green Bay Packers
- Titles: Five (including first two Super Bowls)
- Length of Dynasty: Seven Seasons (1961 – 67)
- Coach/QB : Vince Lombardi/Bart Starr
1970’s: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Titles: Four Super Bowls (in six years)
- Length of Dynasty: Six Seasons (1974 – 79)
- Coach/QB : Chuck Noll/Terry Bradshaw
1980’s: San Francisco 49ers
- Titles: Four Super Bowls
- Length of Dynasty: Nine Seasons (1981 – 89)
- Coach/QB: Bill Walsh/Joe Montana
1990’s: Dallas Cowboys
- Titles: Three Super Bowls (in four years)
- Length of Dynasty: Four Seasons (1992 – 95)
- Coach/QB: Jimmy Johnson/Troy Aikman
2000’s: New England Patriots
- Titles: Three Super Bowls at least (in four years)
- Length of Dynasty: Seven Seasons (2001 - ????)
- Coach/QB: Bill Belichick/Tom Brady
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that the New England Patriots are the NFL’s dynasty of the new millennium and personally, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
But like all good things, the Patriots dynasty will one day come to an end and Pats fans everywhere will be reminded once again of what it’s like when your team sucks.
When we look back at the dynasties of decades past we find there are three factors that figure the most in their downfalls. Despite what many Pats-haters may believe, someone figuring out a “blueprint” like “put relentless pressure on their quarterback” is not one.
Here they are in descending order of importance:
Injuries – A back injury prevented Joe Montana from at least one, and probably two more Super Bowls. He missed all of the 1991 season and nearly all of 1992. That opened the door for Steve Young but was the end of the original 49ers’ dynasty.
The Steelers also experienced a rash of injuries in 1980 after their fourth title and never rebounded.
The Patriots were lucky last year with Rosevelt Colvin being the only major loss during the season. There’s nothing that can derail a dynasty more abruptly than an unexpected injury to a key player. I’m going to stop even writing about it to prevent any kind of jinx to my team.
Core Group Departures – The 49ers and Cowboys dynasties were the guiltiest of this. Both let players get away who formed the core of their respective dynasties. Ronnie Lott and Roger Craig both were allowed to walk south to the Los Angeles Raiders and the 49ers were never the same.
Jerry Jones decided to let Alvin Harper, James Washington, Mark Stepnoski, and Jim Jeffcoat leave via free agency in 1995 after their third, and final Super Bowl. That was the end for them.
Troy Aikman hating Barry Switzer had something to do with it too.
Some were surprised to see Tedy Bruschi resign for two more years but I was excited, and not just because I wear his jersey on game days. He is the heart and soul of this Patriots’ dynasty, even if some say he’s lost a step.
The Patriots have been skilled in the past for replacing the irreplaceable, like Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, and Ty Law. Bruschi is the last link to the older generation, aka The Crappy 90s. When he leaves his signature leadership will never be replaced.
Departure of the Head Coach/Architect - Say hello to the number one dynasty killer. The Packers quickly became an average team when Vince Lombardi left, even with their core group of players still intact.
Walsh and Johnson’s teams were so soundly built they both won Super Bowls two years after their departure. However by the third year both teams missed the playoffs.
Luckily for 49ers fans they were able to quickly rebound to grab another Super Bowl under George Seifert and Steve Young, though it’s been lean times since then.
The Cowboys haven’t been so lucky.
The coach is king in the NFL and when a brilliant coach leaves, in most cases, it is back to mediocrity within three seasons. Only with a hand-picked successor who continues to run the team under the same system can a dynasty prevail for a few more seasons.
A second consecutive Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm doesn’t hurt either.
When the Hooded One and Brady leave the fun will be over for Pats fans. Brady will be 31 when 2008 starts. He should have another 4-5 seasons of high caliber play left.
Belichick is rumored to be under contract until 2013.
Perhaps someone like offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is being groomed to take over in a Seifert-like succession. Maybe fourth round pick Kevin O’Connell could prove to be a Steve Young to Brady’s Montana.
Only time will tell. We only have about five more years left, barring injuries, so enjoy it while it lasts because one day our dynasty too will be dead.
Question for you readers: Where would you rank the Patriots dynasty now? If they won another Super Bowl?
Discuss below, and if you’re going to make a Spygate comment at least make it original and funny or somewhat insightful please.