Some thoughts about dynasties

I'm a long-time Saints fan (previously known as a long-suffering fan); born, raised, and partially educated in NOLA. Left in 1970 when I was 20 to join the military. Still have family in NOLA and come home to visit occasionally. I've only been to 2 Saints games, but one of them was their very 1st one. I was in the north (lake side) end zone when John Gilliam returned that kick-off right towards us. I yelled so loud on that one play that I was hoarse until the next day. I've tried to follow the Saints whenever I could, either on TV or through radio. I didn't discover CSC until about 1-2 weeks after the Super Bowl; love it, read it regularly. As over-joyed, proud, and grateful as I am for the championship, I'm still hungry for more, and that lead to the following thoughts about dynasties. I'm still new to this blogging stuff, so please forgive any rookie mistakes (including offering up this post).

So how do you build a dynasty? First we ought to reach a consensus on what "dynasty" means. By some definitions, dynasties involve dominance over "a considerable amount of time". In the conventional and historical use of the term, a considerable amount of time meant centuries for some of the Asian dynasties. No need for us to measure time by centuries; decades will suffice. The number of championships won can be the measurement of dominance. For football team dynasties we ought to see multiple championships over multiple years. There is also the term, "Team of the Decade". This alone may or may not qualify as a dynasty. Some teams of the decade had their period of excellence and fame, but didn't always pass it down any further. Succession is also an important part of conventional definitions of dynasty. People have spoken of Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Dallas, and most recently New England as dynasty teams. There's even been talk of the Saints trying to follow a New England model .I want the Saints to create their own model for extended dominance that others will want to study, but it could be useful to look at other championship teams for ideas.

But I'm not looking at New England. They may be the team of the 1st half of the 2000-2009 decade, but I don't think they qualify as a dynasty. They won 3 SB's over a 4 year period; their last one was from the 2004 season. Their overall SB record is 3-3. No considerable amount of time and no succession. Besides, I hate the Patriots.

I'm not looking at Dallas either. Their overall SB record was better at 5-3.They won 2 SB's in the 1970's, then like New England they won 3 SB's in 4 seasons; their last one from the 1995 season. There are 2 large gaps in their history: from 1978 until they won after the 1992 season, then from 1996 to now. If those SB wins were in consecutive decades, or if there was a smaller, single gap in time, I might have eventually forced myself to look at them for something useful. It also seems like they had an unusual draft advantage from the Herschel Walker trade, the largest player trade in the history of the NFL. BTW, I also hate the Cowboys.

Pittsburgh really interests me for several reasons. They have won the most SB's with a record of 6-1 over a considerable amount of time, they were the team of the decade for the 1970's, they can illustrate some of the  factors that go into a dynasty, and their history has some interesting parallels to the Saints' history. Some history: founded by Art Rooney in 1933. Ownership has been passed down within the Rooney family from generation to generation. They lost their 1st play-off appearance in 1947, and then lost their next play-off appearance in 1962. They hired 37 y/o Chuck Noll in 1969 and he rebuilt the team through the draft. Future Hall of Famers included Coach Noll, Mean Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Mike Webster, and Rod Woodson; also owners Art & Dan Rooney. The Steelers didn't get around to winning their 1st play-off game until December 23, 1972, the "Immaculate Reception" game. It took them 40 years to win a play-off game! During  the 1970's they went on to win SB IX after the 1974 season (42 years to their 1st World Championship), then 3 more SB's through the 1979 season. Four World Championships in 6 seasons. They were the team of the decade for the 1970's, but then they entered a long period without any SB appearances. Chuck Noll was head coach for 23 years. Maybe he became too old or out-dated; I don't know. They hired 34 y/o Bill Cowher in 1992. The 1995 season led to a loss in SB XXX. The 2005 season led to a victory in SB XL. In 2007 they hired 34 y/o Mike Tomlin. After the 2008 season they went on to win SB XLIII. Here's a team that went 40 years before they won their first play-off game. They didn't win their 1st SB until their 42nd season. Over 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Been there, done that. Then from 1974 through 2008, the next 36 seasons, they went to the SB 7 times and won 6 out of 7, more than any other team. If we measure dominance by number of championships, no other team has been champion 6 times, and it's over 36 years, a considerable amount of time. However, there's a 26 year gap between winning SB's, so I see them as the team of the 1970's decade rather than a dynasty. Their history still suggests some useful info.  In addition to building through the draft and drafting many HoF players over time, there's apparently been good succession with ownership and coaches.

IMO San Francisco comes closest to representing a dynasty. They were a perfect 5-0 in SB's appearances from the 1981 season through the 1994 season. They were the team of the decade for the 1980's and managed to get one more win after the 1994 season. They had multiple championships (5) over multiple seasons (14). Future Hall of Famers included innovative Coach Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, and Fred Dean. Walsh coached their 1st 3 SB's, George Seifert the last 2. Good succession for quarterbacks & coaches, also good management under Carmen Policy from 1983-1998.The owner from 1977-2000 was Eddie DeBartolo. Of interest is that many of his HoF players said he was the most generous owner in NFL history. He also acquired some infamy from connections to a corruption case of good old Gov. Edwin Edwards.

So how do you build a dynasty? Having HoF players and coaches is necessary, but we've always known that.  It's just not sufficient. Various champions have had HoF players & coaches and haven't even been team of the decade, e.g., Miami with a SB record of 2-3. It may also seem obvious that you 1st have to be a team of the decade and then extend your dominance from there. Looking at SF & Pittsburgh for ideas, becoming a team of the decade includes winning about 4 SB's per decade, building through the draft, having a youthful and/or innovative coach, stable ownership, taking care of your players financially, and having a good front office. The key to building a dynasty is succession; ensuring the next group of players, coaches, owners, and front office personnel are of an equal or higher quality as the ones they replace.

I like to think we are currently in a good position to become the team of this decade. If we can effectively handle various succession issues as they arise, we can then go on to establish the Saints dynasty. Pittsburgh took over 40 years to win their 1st Super Bowl and now they lead the entire league in number of championships. I'd like us to become a real dynasty and win an even bigger number of championships, hopefully in a shorter amount of time (36 more years would put me at 96).

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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