Last week, when the Dallas Cowboys played the Oakland Raiders on national TV, it was billed as a “must-win” game for “two historic franchises with large followings.” Some said it as the matchup between “America’s Team” and “The Black Hole.” Yet what we were really watching was one average team facing a mediocre one, and both ballclubs are disappointments in 2017. Again.
These teams are among a handful that no longer deserve to be referred to as “cornerstone” franchises in the NFL. The Cowboys and Raiders are truly elite high-profile franchises of the deep past. They are no longer premier ballclubs in the league, and have not been for a long time. Dallas has not been “glamorous” in this century. What’s so glamorous about early playoff exits, even when they occasionally make it? You think wearing a Raiders cap makes you look tough? A 34-year championship drought is not so intimidating.
The Patriots are America’s Team
As for the Cowboys, they have not really been “America’s Team” since the 1990s, we can stop with that. The nickname was coined in 1979, when they were still consistent top-level contenders. But they were gifted that moniker because they were popular, recognizable, regularly successful and the team everyone loved to hate. Sorry Dallas, the New England Patriots have been “America’s Team” since this century began. Everyone knows Brady and Belichick. Everyone outside of Boston loathes the Pats, except the non-Boston frontrunners who have embraced them during this era, and there are a lot of them, furthering their high profile. No one stirs more emotion and generates more headlines than the New England Patriots. They are the real “America’s Team” now. While the Patriots have won five Super Bowls since 2001, Dallas has won three playoff games since 1996. Real glamorous.
Before Jerry, the Cowboys longest Super Bowl appearance drought was 14 years (SB 13 to SB 27)
Dallas is in the middle of a 21 year streak (SB 30 to SB 51), soon to be 22 years.#CowboysNation
— John Hatfield™ (@5Points_Blue) November 24, 2017
The Raiders are even more outdated when it comes to their undeserved reputation as one of the NFL’s great franchises. They haven’t even won a division title since 2002! They have only appeared in one playoff game since then and lost. The Raiders are proof positive that too many people are living in the past when recognizing who the NFL’s true premier franchises are these days. The Cowboys and the Raiders are not deserving of the billing they receive, because winning nowadays and in the recent past deserves credit. The Cowboys and the Raiders are has-been franchises. Jerry Jones has done a lot for the league overall, but his team has been a postseason afterthought since Jimmie Johnson left and the teams he built moved into history.
Other seemingly popular franchises that are “has-beens” include the Dolphins and Redskins, who baffingly seem to have large followings that boast successful history from way too long ago and gain considerable amounts of fans outside of their locales. Miami has not even been to a Super Bowl since 1985 and is 0-3 in the playoffs since 2001.They have won one postseason game since Dan Marino retired. Washington has three postseason wins since their last SB appearance in 1992.
The Ravens Are the Real Tough Guys
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the only franchise that has been able to sustain their success since those days of John Facenda and grainy NFL Films. They have made the Super Bowl in every decade since the 90s, with two victories in this century. The Broncos are pretty close, with SB appearances in every decade dating back to the 70s and three victories overall. The Giants can be considered another true “cornerstone” franchise, with Super Bowl appearances in every decade dating back to the 80s and two trophies in the past decade. The Ravens have 10 playoff appearances and two Super Bowl wins since they moved to Baltimore in the mid-90s. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs are real recent tough guys with lots of success, way more than any Raiders. To a lesser extent, the Packers should also get some consideration for their recent success (eight consecutive playoff appearances and a Super Bowl win in 2010) as do the Seahawks (three Super Bowl appearances since 2005 and playoffs in six of the last seven seasons). The Saints and Panthers could soon arguably find themselves in the cornerstone franchise discussion with more Super Bowl appearances in the near future.
But let’s get with the times, people. The Steelers are the greatest franchise of all time, the Patriots are America’s Team, and if you want to look tough, wear a Ravens cap. The Broncos and Giants are the others deserving of mentions as true cornerstone league franchises. The Cowboys and Raiders no longer belong in the “Ring of Honor” of the best NFL ballclubs, and haven’t really been part of that distinct group for too long.
Heck, at least those bandwagon 49ers fans disappeared. They really get it.
The Steelers are great, but are without Antonio Brown this week. Here’s 10 Fantasy options to use in his place in your league Super Bowl.