The New England Patriots are headed to their seventh Super Bowl appearance since 2001. In an era when the NFL is said to have parity among the teams, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have dominated the postseason over the last 16 years. Indeed, the Patriots are already one of the greatest dynasties in the world of sports. However, if the team records a fifth Super Bowl victory to cap this season, they will be in a class by themselves.
Although the Patriots have accomplished unprecedented success in the current century, they follow in the footsteps of several other NFL dynasties over the last 30 years. Let’s look at some of the teams who’ve accomplished greatness and been tagged as dynasties and the players that got them there.
We begin with the San Francisco 49ers, another team that dominated the NFL landscape for 17 years from 1981 to 1998. During that period of time, the 49ers were coached by Bill Walsh, whose “West coast offense” played to the strengths of quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young. All told, Montana helped guide the Niners to four Super Bowl wins, and Young added a fifth win to cap off the dynasty. At the time, they were the class of the NFL. Steiner Sports has an item that commemorates one of the most famous plays of all-time. “The Catch” made by tight end Dwight Clark on a pass from Montana with less than a minute to go in a game against the Dallas Cowboys. Clark snagged the pass in the back of the end zone to seal the win and send the Niners to the Super Bowl. Steiner also has a Steve Young jersey and 78 items pertaining to Joe Montana.
No NFL team has made as many postseason appearances as the Dallas Cowboys (31). One could argue that their dynasty years began in the 1970s under Tom Landry with Roger Staubach as the quarterback. Indeed, that pairing netted two Super Bowl wins during their reign. However, the Cowboys won three Super Bowls during the five-year period from 1991-1996. Jimmy Johnson was the coach at the time and the team was led by three star players: quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin. Steiner Sports has items commemorating all three players. The coolest item from Troy Aikman is a signed seat bottom from the old Dallas/Texas Stadium. There is also seat bottom signed by Emmitt Smith among the 11 items dedicated to him. In addition to a Michael Irvin seat bottom, there is also a signed jersey.
The St. Louis Rams had a dominant stretch at the turn of the century from 1999-2003. During that time they were known as “the Greatest Show on Turf.” Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz are credited with assembling an offense that was almost unstoppable. Marshall Faulk was the running back for the team then. Steiner Sports has a signed football and signed pictures of him. But it was the passing attack led by quarterback Kurt Warner, with Torrey Holt and Isaac Bruce catching the passes.
The Denver Broncos reigned supreme from 1983 to 1998. Led by quarterback John Elway, the “Orange Crush” won back to back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998. During his career they made a total of five Super Bowl appearances and made the playoffs 10 times. Elway is well represented at Steiner Sports, where you’ll find a dozen items dedicated to him. These include a signed Stanford mini-helmet, several signed pictures and dual signed picture with Elway and Joe Montana.
There are other dynasties in the NFL such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. But we’re limiting our look to the last 30 years or so. Which brings us back to the Patriots. You can find 62 different items dedicated to the Patriots or their players. These include an Adam Vinatieri signed photo, Tom Brady signed helmets and photos, and items bearing the name of Malcolm Butler, hero of the Patriots’ last Super Bowl win in 2015. By far, though, the coolest item is a signed picture of Tedy Bruschi taken during the famous “Snow Game” from 2003.