Thought of the Day II

May, 15, 2009
5/15/09
1:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

In our latest version of "Thought of the Day" in the AFC North, we are examining the topic of dynasties.

AFC North reader Jason feels it takes four titles to be considered a true NFL dynasty, while others feel it takes fewer than four in today's league.

Here are your responses:

Dustin from Pittsburgh writes: I like where Jason is coming from, but the Steelers of the 70s and the Niners of the 80s never had to deal with free agency, which didn't come about until 1992. Before that time, a player typically played his whole career for the team that drafted him. Since its inception, free agency has changed the way teams go about building their rosters. There's so much more parity in the NFL nowadays and a lot of it has to do with players changing teams. So with all that in mind, in today's NFL I'd say it's accurate to label the Cowboys of the 90s and the Pats of 2000s as dynasties.

Ed from Atlanta writes: James, read your blog every day. Great stuff. You can't put a number on Super Bowl wins to name a dynasty. [Jason] hit on it when he said "Dynasties are prolonged periods of excellence". I think you need at least two close together and let your performance surrounding them determine if you are a dynasty. If you are a dominating force consistently in this day and age you are a dynasty.

Earl from Harrisonburg, Va. writes: I say that during the era of free agency and a salary cap that a dynasty of three Super Bowl titles within about five years or so, qualifies as a dynasty. Also, and more importantly, teams 'feared' the Patriots (also hated them like us Steelers fans) of the early 2K's after the first Super Bowl, mostly because of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Steelers defense with Troy Polamalu and the QB Ben Roethlisberger remain the constants and the reasons for teams to be VERY concerned about the Steelers this year. Mike Tomlin's more disciplined and intellectual/mentally tough approach also helps to cause concern in the NFL that the Steelers may repeat in 2009. If they do they are a dynasty.

Renato from Pittsburgh writes: James, to me a dynasty is not just about winning Super Bowls. It has to be dominance over a period of time, meaning being a top four team in your conference, no losing seasons, and winning playoff games. I agree only the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and San Francisco 49ers have had a true dynasty. You can't say the New England Patriots were because they missed the playoffs twice in their dynasty. The Steelers had a losing record in 2003 and missed the playoffs in 2006. Neither team qualifies as a dynasty.

Frank from Lexington, KY writes: I humbly disagree with my Steel brother. In today's landscape of free agency, primadonna's demanding trades, expanded number of teams, longer seasons, etc. you have to consider the Patriots a modern dynasty. (And no one utter the word "Spygate" either. Who cares?) Changes in the modern environment must be taken into consideration. It's just like when during his prime Jerome Bettis referred to 1,000 rushing yards as not really being an accurate yardstick of running back accomplishment any more. With the extra games, you really need to look more at 1200 yards as being a dominating season. This is a reverse effect: it is much harder to repeat, as evidenced by the lack of even TWO time winners. Three in five years is by all definitions dominant, and in my opinion a modern dynasty.

Rich from Bellevue, WA writes: I COMPLETELY agree with Jason, four is the mark of excellence. To me, to be a dynasty, you have to dominate a decade, and three doesn't cut it for that. For instance, the 90's Cowboys won three in the early part of the decade, but failed to impact the latter part. That doesn't cut it as a dynasty. In the 50's, two teams (Lions and Browns) each won three championships, but neither completely owned the decade. No, four is the minimum. Jason is only wrong about one thing: there have been *four* dynasties in NFL history. 80's 49ers, 70's Steelers, 60's Packers... but let's not forget 30's Packers. From 1929-1939 they won *five* championships, including three-peating ('29, '30, and '31). That certainly has to count as a dynasty in my book. I don't buy this watering down the definition because of the claim that it's so much harder today. So what? Greatness is still greatness. And the Patriots put the lie to that thinking anyway because they were a hairbreadth away from getting their fourth this decade and qualifying as a true dynasty.

TOMMY E. from Ocala, Fla. writes: J.W. tell big bad J-Dog thanks for the lesson on dynasties, since he is obviously the self proclaimed expert!?! The fact is you are right about the landscape changing in today's era. Three titles are definitely the new bench mark, but I would agree you have to go back to back or at least get three championships in five years.

Joey from Cincinnati writes: James, I'm not sure if it's just the number of Super Bowls that determines a dynasty, or their regular-season record, or their playoff appearances. When I think dynasty, I think of the men that make up the team as well as what they accomplish. The Steelers of the 70s would not have been a dynasty in my opinion if it wasn't pretty much the same cast of characters. But it was. So far, all of the teams have pretty much been the same. But as soon as you change coaches, quarterbacks, or a large portion of a starting lineup, I think a team is eliminated from the dynasty discussion. In this way, I'd say that Mike Tomlin himself needs to win a few more with Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, et al. to be considered a dynasty. Would we call the 70's Steelers a dynasty if Chuck Noll won two Super Bowls and then two years later, a new Steeler coach wins two? Of if Terry Bradshaw wasn't QB in all four games?

Amr from Toms River writes: Nowadays the standard for dynasty seems to be three titles in five years. I would say any team that shows greatness for a prolonged period of time is a dynasty, even counting the Bills of the 90's (Boy I Love Losing Super Bowls). Also 18-1 is almost as good as a Super Bowl in my opinion, and there is no way the Patriots don't make the list, considering that year was more impressive than the Giants' year.

Jim from Worcester, MA writes: There have not been any NFL dynasties! Sure there have been strong and multiple championship teams, but none of them were dynasties. The 50's Browns, 60's Packers, 70's Steelers, 80's 49'ers, 90's Cowboys, 00's Pats and 00's Steelers (As a fan I'll list them twice.) all had down years and were never dominate during their entire championship runs. As a comparison some candidates for dynasties would be the Yankees and Canadians- pick the 10 most succ
essful consecutive years for each, the Celtics winning 9 of 11 championships, Wooden's UCLA Bruin basketball team winning 10 championships in 12 years, Oklahoma football winning 47 straight. Nope, good teams winning back to back championships does not a dynasty make.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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