If the list was titled the NFL’s Greatest Dynasties, the 1960s Green Bay Packers would be No. 1. They won the most championships in the shortest period of time: five in seven years. But the criterion here is which dynasties had the best overall talent.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-79) – Nine Steelers who played on all four of their Super Bowl championship teams over those six years are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a case could be made that two others, L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell, also should be in. The Steelers started 37 different players in their four Super Bowl wins and 19 were selected to play in a Pro Bowl during their careers. Their 1974-75 champs had one of the most dominant front fours ever with Mean Joe Greene and Greenwood hitting their peak, plus Dwight White and Fats Holmes. The 1978-79 champs were more explosive offensively with a seasoned Terry Bradshaw at quarterback, and Hall of Fame receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann hitting their stride.
2. Dallas Cowboys (1992-95) – They won their three Super Bowls by a combined score of 109-47. Few, if any, teams ever had a better quarterback-running back-wide receiver combination than Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. They had big-body, dominating blockers in Erik Williams, Nate Newton and, for the last one, Larry Allen. And they had speed on defense. Charles Haley, one of the premier pass-rush specialists of all-time, started for all three title teams, and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders started for the last one. But thanks to Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ stay at the top was short: Three titles in four years.
3. Green Bay Packers (1961-67) – Eleven players from those teams are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but let’s not forget that 15 players on their 1-10-1 1958 team became starters on at least one of Vince Lombardi’s NFL championship teams. His first two title teams in 1961 and ’62 were more talented on offense; the last three were much stronger on defense. Yes, those teams had some superior athletes, but what really set them apart was they played with more confidence and discipline, and played smarter and with more consistency than their opponents virtually every game over that entire seven-year period. Lombardi’s teams, probably out of fear as much as anything, almost never made a dumb mistake. If their talent level was A-, their execution deserved an A+.
4. Cleveland Browns (1946-55) – Counting their time in the old All-America Football Conference, the Browns won seven championships in 10 years. The NFL doesn’t recognize AAFC records, for whatever reason, but in those four post-World War II seasons (1946-49), there was more than enough talent to support the 10 NFL teams and eight AAFC teams of the day. Otto Graham, arguably one of pro football’s three or four greatest quarterbacks in the pre-Super Bowl era, was the constant. But the Browns were loaded with talent and nobody exemplified it better than Marion Motley, a 6-1, 238-pound fullback whose running style was part raging bull and part dancing bear.
5. Chicago Bears (1940-46) – This was a team that won the 1940 and ’41 championship games by a combined score of 110-9. They won their fourth title in seven years in 1946 after World War II, but the war years depleted their ranks. When they crushed Washington, 73-0, in the 1940 title game, they had a future Hall of Fame quarterback, Sid Luckman; a stable of other outstanding backs that was at least two-deep at every position; and four linemen – out of five at a time when starters played both offense and defense – who became Hall of Famers. But the Bears had 45 players serve in World War II. If not for the war, the Monsters of the Midway might deserve to be moved up a couple notches.
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