1974, 1975, 1978, 1979
For those of you who bleed black and gold, you should need no explanation. These dates signify why the Steelers were the team of the 1970’s. Two times earning back to back Super Bowl victories. ’74, ’75, ’78 being the dynasty period (Three Super Bowls in 4 years), tagging ’79 on there for good measure. Though, it is tough to argue the Steelers’ supremacy in the 70’s, there is one argument to be made, and its monumental; Salary Cap. This team was filled to capacity with Hall-of-Famers, pro-bowlers, super stars and other adjectives any football player want before their name.
So here’s the argument:
Would the Steelers have had the same success if they were forced to release so many of their great players? Would they be able to replace and LC Greenwood, or a Mike Wagner when they fell victim to the cap? These are not well-known players but big time contributors to a legendary defense. How big would the holes be between Joe, Mel, Jack and Jack? Would a guy like Tony Dungee or Dwight White even be remembered as great Steelers or would they fall into mediocrity because they didn’t get a chance to play beside guys like Mel Blount or Joe Greene?
Though the argument is purely hypothetical it has quite a bit of gravity to it. My point is, it was much easier to repeat in the early “Modern Era” of football.
1981, 1984, 1988, 1989
The 49ers, the Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronney Lot, Dwight Clark 49ers, not the Steve Young Terrell DIVA CRY BABY Owens 49ers. Bill Walsh’s innovative approach to offense (West-Coast, short passes and including running backs in the passing game) was truly unseen before in football. I don’t doubt Joe Montana OR Jerry Rice’s abilities in the least bit, in my opinion the two best at their positions to ever play the game BUT, again no salary cap. You’re talking free-will spending, no need to worry about adjusting contracts or reworking a roster to both fall well under the cap OR cutting solid players to accommodate your great players.
The NFL Cap was implemented in 1994 at 36.6 million; basically you cannot spend more than 36.6 million dollars in total player salaries. Now it’s not THAT simple, there are so many factors to account for when signing and releasing players. In our age of free agency, teams are penalized when releasing certain players from their roster, usually within the player’s contract or the NFL CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). SO!, if you decide to release a player to make room for another you may have to deal with a penalty against your cap, and depending on that player it could be upwards of 10 million dollars.
I digress, my point is post-1994 repeating Superbowls has only happened ONCE, and that’s the Tom Brady Bill Belichick Patriots (No not the cowboys 1992, 1993, 1995). Yes we all know the Cowboys went back-to-back, but they did it pre-cap.
So How ‘bout them Cowboys?
1992, 1993, 1995
Though my feelings for Dallas are less than admirable, you have to respect what that team was able to accomplish post-Landry (Tom Landry, MR. COWBOY, invented the 4-3 defense as a d-coordinator in NY, later invented the Flex-defense, a true hero and innovator of the game). Jimmy Johnson was able to take a disenfranchised…franchise and turn it into an absolute power-house in the most historical division in the NFL.
The Triplets (Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith), nuff said. Michael Irvin was the mold of what I team desires in a wide receiver, big, strong, athletic, competitive, mean, you name it Mike had it. Aikman is arguably one of the most accurate passers in the NFL, and Emmit’s reputation is well known. What if they were capped and couldn’t pay all of them? What if they kept those three but couldn’t pay their defenders like a Charles Haley, or a Ken Norton? Believe it or not the 1990’s Cowboys were a defensive juggernaut.
2001, 2003, 2004
THIS to me is the most impressive team that’s ever played the game. Innovation, having a bevy of Hall-of-Famers, stud wide receiver, stud running back and legendary defenses aside, this team did it wth a 6th round quarterback and a mad scientist. Tom Brady was drafted 199th over-all via a compensatory pick, an afterthought. Drew Bledsoe was a great quarterback that was leading that team to the play offs and winning games like clockwork, but little did they know who Tom Brady would become. By a whim, and a Jet’s defensive player, Bledsoe was sidelined with an injury and ushered in a quarterback who I think will go down as the best that ever played the game.
Back to back, AND 3 in 4 years (dynasty), in the capped era in football with only 2 years of a stud wide receiver, and an above average defense including names like McGinnest, Bruschi, Seymore, Harrison and Vrabel. This team did it in the hardest “economic” climate in the NFL, and with bench-riders and no-names. This is a testament to Belichick’s coaching prowess. Belichick before being as well-known as the head coach in New England, was ALSO a Giants Defensive coordinator, grooming the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Leonard Marshall, George Martin, Pepper Johnson and Harry Carson. This is a football genius, a guru of defensive football who just so happens to know how to run an offense.. and have Tom Brady.
The most impressive dynasty AND OR back-to-back Superbowl teams IS the New England Patriots.
Feel free to argue.