By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Among the definitions for the term dynasty is a sequence of power, and in a sports context that would translate to teams that dominate their league for multiple seasons.
The Green Bay Packers were the team of the decade in the 1960s, as they won several NFL titles and the initial two Super Bowls. The Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in six seasons in the 1970s, while the San Francisco 49ers added four Lombardi Trophies in the 1980s.
The Dallas Cowboys won three in four seasons in the 1990s, while the New England Patriots also captured three in four seasons in the early 2000s. All the aforementioned teams can be considered NFL dynasties. The Steelers dominated the latter part of the decade and are playing in a third Super Bowl in six seasons with two victories.
So, the question remains, if they win a third Lombardi Trophy in six seasons, should this Steelers team be considered a dynasty as well?
“Would you consider that a dynasty?” Steelers cornerback William Gay said when asked the question. When the reporter responded, “Absolutely,” Gay would not affirm the claim.
“Well, that’s something for you all to decide,” Gay added. “We just want to play football and win. After that, you all can decide if this Steelers team is a dynasty. So, all we have to do is complete this mission and win the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 6.
“I guess we won’t know what happens until we win our third Super Bowl in six years. We’ll find out then how everybody will react, but it’s all about winning. And the more trophies you rack up, that’s the whole point of playing in the NFL. So, that’s what we’ve been working toward all season.”
The NFL has preached about league parity, and that has been the norm in the NFC the past decade with 10 different teams representing that conference in the Super Bowl. During that same span, from the 2001 season until now, the AFC has had four different teams reach the big game.
Along with the Steelers (3), Patriots (3) and Indianapolis Colts (2) making multiple trips, the Oakland Raiders were hammered by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2002 season.
Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said he never thought about his team being a dynasty, but added that “it’s really impressive.” James Farrior was unaware about the difference between the AFC and NFC teams.
“I don’t know what or care what people call it, but I hope we do it,” Farrior said. “Then, we’ll see what people call it after we win the game. I will say that you don’t see that too much nowadays, teams being in the Super Bowl multiple times with so much parity in the league.
“And that’s how the NFL wants it, but this has been a storied franchise that has been very successful over the years. And it all starts with the Rooney family. They’re a great family to work for, great owners, and they care a lot about their players. You don’t see that too often.
“There’s ultimate parity in the NFC, and a few dominant teams who have been good for a while now in our conference,” Farrior added. “That’s about all I can say. I don’t know what else to say, because I wasn’t aware of that. Let me think about that for a while, but that’s pretty interesting.”
Casey Hampton spoke the longest and most eloquently about dynasties.
“I’m not going to take anything away from what those guys have done, because they’ve done it in the past, and they’ve won their Super Bowls,” Hampton said. “And I’m not going to compare us to them, because they finished their job. And we haven’t finished our job yet. What it says is that the coaching staff, management and players must be pretty good.
“That’s the only way you can look at it. They do a good job of drafting guys to fit their system, but it’s more than that. They draft guys who fit the whole Steelers way of life, and that’s the main thing. We don’t bring a lot of free-agent guys in here, guys who are good players, but who don’t fit. So, it’s a formula that they have here, and it obviously works.
“They’ve been successful here for a long period of time,” Hampton added. “We can’t compare ourselves to those teams in the ’70s, because they won four Super Bowls. We’ve only got two, and we haven’t won our third one. We’re playing for it next week, and if we win it then we can start talking about that stuff. Until then, we really can’t do much talking.”
Since the Rooney family has owned the Steelers from their inception, all the players are aware of the history. Hampton expanded on that.
“We see those other Super Bowl trophies every day, and we still hear about them,” Hampton said. “You’re asking me about them, aren’t you? But they make you want to succeed and be part of that success story. You can’t help it.
“We deserve to be in any discussion about the best teams in recent years. We’ve been to five AFC championship games, and the two that we lost to the same team … they cheated to get to the Super Bowl. So, we could be looking at a whole lot more if that didn’t happen. You never know what could have been.”
That about says it all when discussing NFL dynasties.