NFL: 5 Proud Franchises That Have Fallen on Tough Times
Success may breed success, but it also cultivates high expectations.
Franchises such as Green Bay and Pittsburgh have gone through rough stretches during their respective franchise's history. It caused the fan base to yearn for the glory days and wonder when the next championship would come.
Fortunately for each, their teams recently delivered Super Bowl victories.
It's a bit unfair to expect so much of your team after winning a Lombardi Trophy, but when you go on the kind of droughts these five franchises have gone through, the very least they could do is string together a couple of playoff wins.
The five franchises on this list have become so removed from their winning tradition they are either irrelevant when it comes to discussing who can win the Super Bowl or struggling to win it again.
No. 5: Dallas Cowboys
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If you ever forget how many Super Bowls the Dallas Cowboys own, ask one of their fans and they will be happy to tell you the tally currently stands at five.
They won't be too happy to talk about the last 15 years though.
During a span from 1995, the year they won a Super Bowl ring for their thumb, through 2010, the Cowboys have managed to make the playoffs seven times and have only two wins to show for their efforts.
The Cowboys avoided complete futility and that's the biggest reason they are only No. 5 on this list. Since 1995 they have won four division titles and logged eight winning seasons.
That kind of success would be welcomed in Detroit or Cleveland. In Dallas however, it's simply not good enough.
The relatively poor play has led to six different head coaches, with Jason Garrett being the most recent addition.
Hope is not lost in Big D, though.
Garrett appeared to bring some life to the Cowboys last year and he will enter 2011 with a healthy roster, including Tony Romo, who missed 10 games last year.
No. 4: Miami Dolphins
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The Miami Dolphins won two Super Bowls in the early 70s under the direction of Don Shula, who many consider one of the greatest head coaches of all time.
Their fifth and most recent trip to the Super Bowl occurred in 1984 with Shula at the helm and Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, under center.
The Dolphins, with the second highest winning percentage in NFL history at .576, have won just seven playoff games since.
A once-proud franchise has seen coaches like Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban patrol the sidelines while quarterbacks like Cleo Lemon and Joey Harrington stunk up the joint.
It's a shame too.
Wouldn't it be great to see the Dolphins competing with the New England Patriots and New York Jets?
Instead, they will have trot Chad Henne out there and try to grind out eight, nine, maybe 10 wins.
And what good is that? Are the fans supposed to be excited over an early exit in the playoffs when they were once treated to some of the best football in the NFL?
Miami may be a weaker sports town, but that doesn't mean the Dolphins can't try to get back to the success they once had.
No. 3: Oakland Raiders
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The way people talk about the Oakland Raiders, you would think their franchise history closely resembles the Seattle Seahawks or Atlanta Falcons.
The Raiders, who also played in Los Angeles, have three Super Bowl wins and rank sixth in league history with a .549 winning percentage.
It was only 2002 when the Raiders last played in the Super Bowl and lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21.
Their win totals have gone as follows: 4, 5, 4, 2, 4, 5, 5, 8.
That's pathetic for any franchise, let alone one of the most storied franchises in NFL history.
They can't find a head coach or quarterback. They can't draft. They can't win. And they can't shake free of Al Davis' lifeless death grip.
Maybe Jason Campbell and Hue Jackson can turn things around.
Who we kiddin?
No. 2: Washington Redskins
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It's hard to believe a franchise with three Super Bowls and the fourth most wins in league history (547) can't figure out how to win.
A lot of the blame could fall on Daniel Snyder when he bought the team in 1999. He signed over-the-hill free agents such as Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith while overpaying for guys like Albert Haynesworth and Adam Archuleta.
But the Redskins were struggling before that.
Following their last Super Bowl in 1991 the Redskins made the playoffs only four times and finished the year with just six winning seasons.
Similar to other franchises on this list, the Redskins can't find a coach and their quarterback situation has been nothing short of an embarrassment.
All I have to say is Mike Shanahan and John Beck.
It doesn't exactly have the same ring as Joe Gibbs and Joe Theismann, does it?
In an attempt to rekindle the flame of years past the Redskins brought Gibbs back in 2004 and paired him up with stiffs such as Patrick Ramsay, Mark Brunell and Jason Campbell.
And how can we forget when Donovan McNabb was going to pull a John Elway and finally win a Super Bowl under Shanahan in Washington?
With so many problems and so many people do blame it's hard imagine another all-time great franchise doing things worse than Washington.
No. 1: San Francisco 49ers
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How can a team emerge victorious in each of its five Super Bowl appearances and remain irrelevant in an era of parity?
You lose, lose and lose some more.
San Francisco took care of that by posting only 2 winning seasons over the last 12 years. Their 6.5 win average during that time span barely eclipses their Super Bowl total. If that doesn't show you how bad things have gone in the Bay Area, nothing will.
The 49ers tried to give more evidence of their ineptitude as they managed to qualify for the postseason only twice since 1998. They pulled of a win in 2002 against the New York Giants thanks to an epic collapse.
Jeremy Shockey dropped a touchdown, Trey Junkin botched a snap and the Giants defense couldn't stop Jeff Garcia. It resulted in the second-biggest comeback in NFL history as the 49ers dug themselves out of a 24-point hole and won 39-38.
Outside of an incredibly lucky moment, the 49ers faithful have been watching DVDs of their past Super Bowl wins while the rest of the fans are watching their teams in the playoffs.
And it's not like the 49ers have been stuck in a tough division.
They are playing in the NFC West.
Going back to 2002 when divisions were realigned the winner of the NFC West has posted the following win totals: 10, 12, 9, 13, 9, 10, 9, 10, 7.
When you win only one division title during those years, you are irrelevant. When you can sneak into the playoffs through the Wild Card, you are irrelevant.
When your only association to playing in the Super Bowl comes through Mike Greenberg's 2010 prediction you are the biggest non-factor to have ever won a Super Bowl.
Things aren't going to turn around anytime soon with Alex Smith out there.
In case you didn't know who was on the first slide I thought I would clue you in. It's none other than Tim Rattay. Other options were Shaun Hill or Trent Dilfer.
Have fun living in obscurity San Fran.