For much of the early years of the modern National Football League, it seemed that there was often a dominant team throughout most, or at least a good portion, of a decade.
Even prior to the NFL-AFL merger, for example, Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers were certainly the dominant football force, and they went on to win the first two Super Bowl championships during the 1960s.
As the 1970s began, a new power gradually emerged from what was once the doldrums of the game to become one of the great dynasties of professional sports. That was, of course, Chuck Noll’s Pittsburgh Steelers, who won four Super Bowl championships in a six-year span between the 1974 and 1979 seasons.
In the 80s, there was the San Francisco 49ers. In the 90s, the Dallas Cowboys controlled the league’s fortunes for a good while. But free agency helped shift the balances of power, and made it more difficult to maintain championship teams.
That is why we have seen sort of mini-runs of late, usually with no clear, dominant team from year to year. It seemed that we might see that in the early 00s, but looking back on that decade, we see that it would be a disservice to leave out all but one name from that period.
Recently, former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans front office executive Charley Casserly took a look back at the 00s for the NFL Network, exploring the top five most well-built organizations through the decade. The Steelers were ranked second, behind, of course, the New England Patriots.
Here is what Casserly had to say about the Steelers, who claimed their fifth and sixth league championships in the 00s, each with a different head coach:
What gets them into number two is their postseason record. Now, they were tied with [the Philadelphia Eagles] for number three in wins, so that puts them behind New England and Indianapolis. However, in the postseason, they were 10-4. That’s the second-best winning percentage. But more importantly, 2-0 in Super Bowls. That gets them to number two ahead of Indianapolis.
Of course, the Steelers also began the 2010s with their record-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance in 2010, even though they eventually lost. They have yet to win another playoff game in one try since then.
In case you were wondering, Casserly ranked the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants tied for fifth, with the Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, and Patriots filling out the top spots around the Steelers at number two.
I find little to argue about in his rankings, at least as far as his placement of the Steelers is concerned. They and the Patriots were the only teams to win multiple championships during the decade. The Steelers also accomplished the rare feat of a 15-1 season in 2004, and routinely sent representatives to the Pro Bowl.
The fact that they did so amidst a regime change at head coach while hardly missing a beat only adds to how wonderful a decade the 00s was for the Steelers, during which they became the most decorated franchise in the modern history of the sport.