As the NFL begins anew for a 92nd season, it is easy to focus solely on the present and future of football. Not to be forgotten, though, are the stories of the past. Successful franchises of today are strong and beloved largely because of a team’s rich history within an area.
One of the most appealing forces in any sport is the rush of a team that everyone has written off performing beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. These dark horse teams are perhaps one of the more exciting to watch as they advance into the playoffs farther than anyone but the die-hard fan would have believed possible.
The phenomenon is sometimes called a Cinderella year: struggling teams who somehow manage to put together unpredictably amazing seasons. They don’t always win it all, but even coming close is a boost to the players and the fans.
More often than not, the magic doesn’t last. These teams tend to descend back into mediocrity the next year. It is uncommon for a Cinderella team to transform into a dynasty that can compete for years to come.
Regardless of whether or not the team remains successful, those special years are part of what builds a successful franchise. They generate moments of greatness to sustain teams through long droughts. Cinderella teams attract huge amounts of media and fan attention, much of which can linger well after the season is over. After all, people are inclined to cheer for the underdog.
Over the next five slides, we’ll take a trip down memory lane to relive the magic of some of the Cinderella teams who won it all, presented in chronological order.