The League

THE QUESTION

Pittsburgh Steelers: Greatest NFL Franchise?

Sure, they have six Vince Lombardi trophies, but are the Pittsburgh Steelers the all time greatest NFL dynasty?

Posted by Emil Steiner on February 3, 2009 8:40 AM
FEATURED COMMENTS

TomfromNJ1: I agree that there is not a clear definition of "dynasty." fro example, in baseball, the franchise we know as the Yankees would probably be ...

Nathant: Chancellor - one O-lineman of the Steelers 70s did admit to taking steroids...but it's important to remember that it was not against the rul...

Silverback-92: If we restrict the question to the Super Bowl era, the answer is the Pittsburgh Steelers. As others have mentioned, perhaps best dynasty is...

Make a Comment  |  All Comments (46)

ALL COMMENTS (46)
EckertA Author Profile Page :

The Steelers are awesome. But, the NFL is almost 90 years old. They've only been called "Superbowl" for 43 years. What did they call it before? The NFL Championship (Called Superbowl or Not) has been won by the Packers 12 times, Bears 9 times, Browns 8 times, Giants have 7, Steelers have 6 and a bunch of teams have 5.

Only because ESPN didn't exist when most of NFL history took place, doesn't mean it never happened.

riverbear Author Profile Page :

You only think the Steelers are the greatest if you started watching the NFL in 1970. The Green Bay Packers had 11 NFL championships before the Steelers ever made the playoffs, and added No. 12 in 1996. Wake me when somebody gets to 10.

democratus Author Profile Page :

Heck no. They are not the greatest team. They didn't even really win their fifth Super Bowl. The officials beat Seattle in that game, Pittsburgh was just along for the ride.

cash2money Author Profile Page :

Uh, no. It's the Oakland Raiders, the only team to win their league in every decade. Plus 3 super bowls and the best fans in the world. Silver and black out smelt gold and black.

SomorPlz Author Profile Page :

I think the San Francisco 49ers are the greatest. For over 20 years they were a powerhouse starting in 81.......

jp81 Author Profile Page :

Greatest NFL franchise? Not even close. They didn't even win a play off game for their first 40 years as a franchise. And isn't it a strech to call 6 superbowl wins with the first 4 and last 2 separated by 25 years a "dynasty"? Kudos to a great team that deserves credit for winning the championship. Even more kudos for winning a record 6th super bowl. But let's keep things in perspective.

phoenixresearch Author Profile Page :

As others here have said, both Green Bay and Chicago have more championships.

Way more.

These panelists are fools to think otherwise, carried away by current events and ignoring the whole history of the NFL.

Besides, GB is the ONLY franchise owned by its fans. Extra points for that.

The Niners won four because Eddie DeBartolo had a bigger checkbook at the time -- or did you forget why salary caps were put in place?

dhenken1 Author Profile Page :

You're using the wrong definition for "dynasty". The Steelers of 1974-79 were a dynasty. If these Steelers win another Bowl nexy year they may be considered a dynasty too, but unique to the older one. If you're asking which team has been the most successful in history, that would be the Green Bay Packers who have won 9 NFL championships.

fischy Author Profile Page :

It's a silly question. The Steelers in the 70s were a dynasty. We're 30 years removed from those teams.

However, we can say that is an extremely well run franchise. Over those 30 years, the Steelers have almost always been competitive, even when they've struggled to find new quarterbacks. They've had only a few coaches over that time, and have made strong hires each time.

Only the Cowboys even come close to that level of consistency, for that length of time. The Packers, the Giants, the Patriots, 49ers and Broncos were all moribund franchises when the Steelers started their first dynastic run -- and they've each had bigger down-times since. For a time, the Raiders gave them a run for consistency, but the Raiders are now one of the most poorly-run teams. The Dolphins had a good run under coach Shula, but haven't seen much success since.

Dynasty? Not with only 2 titles since the end of their dynasty 30 years ago. Still, the Steelers are the gold standard for long-term success in the post-merger era. On the other hand, the Steelers were the worst franchise in the pre-merger era, with the same Rooney family in charge -- so, maybe it balances out.

LegallyMurphy Author Profile Page :

Green Bay has 12 titles and 600+ wins. Pittsburgh has 6 titles and 400+. Do the math.

LonnieBeale Author Profile Page :

Of course the Pittsburgh Steelers are the model modern-day NFL franchise. They don't grossly overspend (unlike Dallas). They have consistent, long-standing success as players come and go (unlike San Francisco). They have won championships in different eras (unlike New England).

Green Bay and Chicago are great franchises but they won those championships in a different era when there were a lot fewer teams in the league.

And I'm tired of these desperate complaints from bitter, jealous fools about the officiating. There are questionable calls in just about EVERY football game played. These fools just for any silly way to knock the Steelers down because they are successful. But when the Steelers need to win the game, they make plays, and they win...while other teams fold. First to SIX!


getreal10 Author Profile Page :

Green Bay is also the only franchise to win THREE STRAIGHT titles, and they did it twice--under Lambeau and then under Lombardi.

Not only do they have TWICE the number of championships as the Steelers, but the trophy is named after Green Bay's famed coach. That says it all.

getreal10 Author Profile Page :

Actually, Green Bay has appeared in four super bowls (winning three) and Chicago has appeared in two (winning one).

No team has won as many titles -- 12 -- over the course of every era in football history like the Green Bay Packers.

mcontento Author Profile Page :

If you separate the NFL into Pre-merger, Post-Merger then you can make some arguments. The Steelers are probably the best franchise Post-merger (i.e. Superbowl era), but if you go with the entire history of the NFL, they're not at the same level as the Packers, Bears and Browns.

love2much SE Author Profile Page :

History, consistency and domination in every aspect of the game is what makes a true dynasty and that's what the Steelers are and always have been. Even in our “30 year SB drought” we still dominated. We didn’t when a Super Bowl since 1979 again until 2005 but we were never absence from the hunt. The Steelers since Mr. Art Rooney got the team out of its slump days, have always been a force to deal with and a franchise that has set the bar high for others to reach. We went to the SB in 1995 and lost when Neil O. threw that game for money if you ask me. But , we were still dominate. I mean look at how many AFC championship games we went to especially during the Kordell years. Just like Caesar’s folks, all the warriors weren’t championship rulers, but that didn’t stop the Caesars from being a dynasty in Rome and so it is with the Steelers in the NFL.

To the guy (FISCHY) who brought up those old championships and teams before the merger, no way are they compared. The game has grown and evolved too much to count the old days, I’m sorry that’s the truth. The merger brought more competition and harder obstacles to overcome then the NFL before the merger.

As to the so called America's team - Dallas, sure they have been to more SBs but hands down the Steelers are the best of the NFL in this area and have been since the 1970’s. Our 7-1 SB record beats Dallas 5-3 record any day and twice on Sunday’s. 7 trips, 3 different coaches and only 1 lost with a Defense that has always defined how defense should be played - come on, enough said.

The Steelers wrote the blue print on how Professional football defense should be played and their #1 ranking and SB 43 win proves that even this year as well - lets be real who can argue with this being a fact that the when the student says Teacher what is the true definition of pro-football defense the Instructor says - The Pittsburgh Steelers???

Now if we bring up the best owners in the franchise again owners who set the bar for others to follow then you have another no brainer. They set the mark for black coaches, hiring younger coaches and sticking with Coaches and developing your franchise, add that to the strongest, and most loyalist fan base in the World.

The Steelers rule Dynasty in the NFL – it’s a no brainer.

What the Steelers have done to the NFL and the world is set the bar on how professional football should be played, managed, coached, taught and presented for years past, present and years to come – that my friends equals - A Dynasty.

drihl Author Profile Page :

I was born in Pittsburgh. I remember the lean, pre-Chuck Noll years, as well as the heady days of the Steel Curtain. I think there does have to be a dividing line between the pre-Super Bowl days and since. More because the league structure, schedule, and size were much different.

What makes Pittsburgh a team for the ages is its consistency. They have had but 3 coaches in the last 39 years. They have consistently built from the draft. They have spurned the flashy, self-absorbed players for disciplined and focused competitors. Even if it weren't for the 6 Super Bowl wins, the Steelers have consistently been competitive, having very few losing seasons since the arrival of Noll. I'll probably be attacked as bias, but there is no better team, owners, or fan base that the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can count on them to continue to be competitive, year in and year out.

WestTexan2008 Author Profile Page :

As the comments in this blog prove, the whole premise of the ‘Greatest Team Ever’ is flawed unless and until the criteria for comparison are established.

One could argue that the Dallas Cowboys are the greatest because they have the best win/loss ratio (.577). However, they have been around a relatively short time – certainly before some of the most dramatic changes in the game (a smaller, less-round ball; pads, helmets, facemasks, specialist players, dramatic rule revisions, etc..). Some could argue that the Bears or Packers, by number of wins or championships, are the greatest. But many/most of their wins come in an era of ‘not-quite-professional’ football, when playing was a sideline job or a sideline to your main job and a condition of employment. As late as the 1960's, most players had off-season jobs.

Unfortunately, the moniker ‘greatest team’ is kind of like ‘best-looking woman’ – we tend to cheer for the home town favorite and gear criteria for judging accordingly.

jp81 Author Profile Page :

I think love2much needs to take off his yellow and black colored glasses. In the Steelers 30 year drought, there were plenty of very average years (the 80s in particular). Kordell Stewart also comes to mind as another kink in your idea of setting the bar. You can dismiss the pre merger championships as not comparing, but do you really think the Steeler teams from the 70s could hold up to today's teams? Certainly not. Could they even have a team to field after the first test for performance enchancing drugs? Point is, it doesn't matter. They were the best for their times, so every championship from 1920 to today counts.

The Steelers are a great franchise, and deserve credit for their 2 recent SB win and their dynasty in the 70s, and generally their post merger success. But none of that erases their first 40 years of being one of the worst NFL teams, nor the success of other teams during that time, nor does it make them a dynasty again, because they won 2 recently (if they win again shortly, this is subject to change). Relax and enjoy the win.

As for the person who said the Raiders...what crack are you smoking????

jerkhoff Author Profile Page :

Greatest NFL franchise? The Green Bay Packers. Greatest current NFL dynasty today? The New England Patriots. Lest you forget...

agapn9 Author Profile Page :

It was a fun game to watch but its hard to name one franchise the best: Packers, Steelers, Bears, Cowboys - I loved watching them all at their peak.
Just hope none of the players got seriously injured during or after the super bowl(celebrations).

caribis Author Profile Page :

Six league titles? That puts them halfway to being tied for number 1.

gfordintheburg Author Profile Page :

I lived in DC for 6 years during the 70's and the years of the Steel Curtain. Just glad I'm here now to witness the Six-Pack. The fans are just as crazy now as then. Food is just as good today. Players come and go then and now. The big difference would be the rules. I think that Jack Lambert and Joe Greene would have a hard time playing by today's rules of "no head slaps" and the rules that protect the quarterback. They were great in their day and Ward, Harrison and Big Ben and the rest are great today. The greatest ever? Nahhhh these guys are good but the best ever. When? In the 50's, 60's or today. Too many variables to judge. Just let those of us in the burg enjoy the moment. We love'em and we bleed Black and Gold.

dalee16 Author Profile Page :

The washington redskins are the greatest NFL franchise because they have an owner that is humble, who drives his car to work, who stands in line to eat at redskin park, hires a coach and general manager and let's them do their job of building the team through the draft and not overpaying for washed up veterans... wait a minute, sorry, thats Dan Rooney, owner of the greatest NFL franchise Pittsburgh Steelers

HLBeckPE Author Profile Page :

The Pittsburgh Steelers are the Lords of the Rings, baby.

I know - I watched the parade from downtown Pittsburgh this afternoon. It was all sunshine and smiles.

It's all about winning. And the SIXburgh STEELERS are the best. Ever.

Thanks much. HLB, Mt. Lebanon PA

floucka Author Profile Page :

I could not agree more with most of what EckertA said:

The NFL is almost 90 years old. They've only been called "Super Bowl" for 43 years. What did they call it before? The NFL Championship has been won by the Packers 12 times, Bears 9 times, Browns 8 times, Giants have 7, Steelers have 6 and a bunch of teams have 5.

Only because ESPN didn't exist when most of NFL history took place, doesn't mean it never happened.

This is the typical Steelers revisionist history where the NFL did not exist until they rose from the ashes in the 1970's. They have been a model of consistency lately but still have some work to do accumulating championship rings.

mnault Author Profile Page :

Four words. First two: Chicago Bears. Second two: Papa Bear.

richardcdouglas Author Profile Page :

The question confuses two concepts: best all-time and best dynasty.

Current best dynasty: Patriots
All-time best dynasty: '70s Steelers
All-time best franchise: Packers

Super neat-o-est team ever: Chargers. (Okay, not so much. But that doesn't make me any less manly wearing a powder blue jersey!)

samflores1 Author Profile Page :

The word Super Bowl Champs, I give it to Steelers, they have SIX no other has SIX. Yet there is only one "America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys! Where ever they play, the stadium has at least 1/4 to half the stadium filled with Cowboy Fans. Thanks You Cowboys, But get it together!

samflores1 Author Profile Page :

The word Super Bowl Champs, I give it to Steelers, they have SIX no other has SIX. Yet there is only one "America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys! Where ever they play, the stadium has at least 1/4 to half the stadium filled with Cowboy Fans. Thanks You Cowboys, But get it together!

dhenken1 Author Profile Page :

Hey Riverbear, the titles don't count until '32 when they started a championship game--that gives the Packers 9 not 12

kimL1 Author Profile Page :

A true Steeler Fan doesn't care a hoot about whether or not our team is the best in NFL history. The Steeler Nation hasn't got time to waste on such trivial issues. We're too busy enjoying our sixth Super Bowl win.

LegallyMurphy Author Profile Page :

Yea the Redskins, they're my number 1! Give me a break

jameschirico Author Profile Page :

Cardinals self-destructed with the late first half touchdown and the penalties in the second half. Roethlisberger again came up clutch when he needed to and the tiptoe catch was a thing of beauty. A year later with stronger teams, San Diego and Baltimore will have Rivers and Flacco challenging him in the division. Eli Manning was a bust for a strong defensive team in the Giants. The difference throughout the playoffs was Polamalu that was burnt only for one Fitzgerald TD and came up big in too many games.

ceo1958 Author Profile Page :

The Steelers suck!! I will NEVER succumb to their towel waving propaganda. Cowboys forever- the greatest franchise of modern sports. And hey you Redskins fans, you suck too!

Sonyask Author Profile Page :

No question, it's the Steelers, at least in the modern, Super Bowl era.

The Pats have had some good years, but no way are they a dynasty for the ages, and they have been dethroned as the "current" dynasty.

jkarasek Author Profile Page :

Since the AFL-NFL merger, the Steelers are the most consistent, most dominant NFL team, with the Cowboys not far behind.

Obviously, the Steelers have won more Superbowls than any other team. Moreover, they have 23 appearances in the post-merger era, and have had only 6 losing seasons since their first playoff win in 1972.

if you want to talk about dominance in the much smaller early NFL, before the merger with the AFL and the AAFC, then sure the Packers were the dominant team in that smaller league.

rharring Author Profile Page :

Love2muchSE,

7-1 Super Bowl record? Did i miss something? What that says is you have won your conference 7 times, The Cowboys have won it 8 times. From 1964-1986 the Cowboys missed the playoffs 1 time (1974), in the 70's they went to 5 Super Bowls and 7 conference championships with a QB that sat out of the league for 5 years. These days a player sits out 1 year and they are not the same, Staubach spent 5 whole years away from football and spent a year in Vietnam. Oh and we have won 3 Super Bowls also with 3 different coaches. I respect the Steelers but for 40 years until 1970 they were the pits. You just can throw out those bad 40 years...........

warrensapp44 Author Profile Page :

The Steelers have a total of 2 Super Bowls in the past 30 years. Dallas, Washington, San Fran, New England all have more. Steelers are tied with the Giants and the Broncos. I just don't see how you can count 6 trophies that way. 4 came during a period of dynasty. That period ended when disco died. Before that they were awful. After that they were mediocure. Now they're heating up. Steelers fans maybe you should look up "consistency" in the dictionary. In case they don't have books in the rust belt here you go: #

2.

# Reliability or uniformity of successive results or events

byisabel Author Profile Page :

I think the Cowboys have an edge over "dynasty" talk. But I also would say that the 49ers during the Montana years were pretty close.
I agree that the Steelers dominated during the disco era. But now? I'd wait.

Jumpy66 Author Profile Page :

The posters bringing up the successes of the Packers, Bears and Browns have a lot of merit, but as many posters have also pointed out, the league was much smaller then, and the game was much different.

I'm not so concerned about whether or not people think the Steelers are the "greatest ever," but will the homers posting about the Niners, Cowboys and Patriots please get a grip on reality? The Pats have had only had success in the last 10 years. Likewise, the Niners and Cowboys staked their claims to the 1980s and 90s, respectively. None of the three even made the playoffs this year.

Again, at least the posters bringing up the league's ancient history have a point when counting championships, but trying out fuzzy math to make four or five Super Bowl championships greater than six just doesn't cut it.

Nathant Author Profile Page :

Save all your breath (or typing, as it were). The great website, the Cold, Hard, Football Facts put together a very in-depth look at just this item, published last summer...and ranked the franchises, 1-32 based on all kinds of criteria. It's an excellent read and I agree almost entirely with what they have.

Almost....except my Steelers are 8th, solely because of what many have pointed out - the first 36 years of the franchise were dreadful. Art Rooney Sr., God rest his soul, was a great man but hired bad coaches and let them get away with too much nonsense. It wasn't until Chuck Noll was hired and COMPLETELY changed everything about the organization that it turned around for the team.

Anyway, I'd encourage you to google this piece....if you care to know, here is their top 10:

1. Pack
2. Cowboys
3. Giants
4. Bears
5. Niners
6. Raiders
7. Redskins
8. Steelers
9. Browns
10. Dolphins

gormanme Author Profile Page :

We're each looking for rational arguments-facts- to justify an already-made emotional decision to say either "Yes, they are a dynasty," or "No, you're crazy." The truth of the matter is that we are allied with a sports team or a sports concept (like a dynastic team, for example) based on a myriad of values that we each hold and the core emotions that those values evoke.

So, for me, I'll say yes, the Steelers are the epitome of an NFL dynasty. But I'm not going to lay out facts and figures to justify that statement. I will say that I grew up and lived most of my life in Pennsylvania. I value hard work, honesty and respect by leaders, owners and members of a team. I like the work ethic exemplified by Pittsburgh the city and the Steelers as a team.

So the Steelers for me speak of home, fairness, honesty and hard work. And yes, by the way, they are a dynasty.

thechancellor_1999 Author Profile Page :

Steelers greatest dynasty

What a joke!

First of the last two superbowls, the Steelers won were because of the refs. They were the worst officiated games in the history of the Superbowl. Arizona would have won the game, if not for Obama ordering the refs to hand victory to Zona

As for the earlier "dynasty", their players were taking steroids, growth enhancers etc. They have admitted to that and their long time team doctor got busted for writing prescriptions. They had an unfair advantage of their peers

TomfromNJ1 Author Profile Page :

I agree that there is not a clear definition of "dynasty." fro example, in baseball, the franchise we know as the Yankees would probably be one despite the fact that for their first 20 years (under 3 names) they never won a title. I believe their average place was between 4th and 5th. But SINCE THE WORLD SERIES era, they clearly have done quite well. In fact, if you are old enough, you will remember that the dominate team in NY was the GIANTS!

So there are certainly good arguments on each side re the Steelers. I would suggest that with the same ownership one thing is that they learned from their mistakes and now run a good franchise. As for the person who spoke of Cowboy fans, have you ever viewed a Steeler away game? Even in playoffs, there have been ads in papers of the opposing team asking their fans NOT to sell their tickets to Steeler fans. Pittsburgh is a VERY small city. Where all these people come from is not clear. But there are gobs of them and I believe they have sold out every game since The Immaculate Reception. I read that when Dan Rooney (the Rooneys have always been Republicans) came out for Obama, there were people who threatened to turn in their season tickets. I guess that will turn a lot of people on waiting lists into Democrats! :-) As for the terrible towels, like them or not, it is good to know that every one of them represents a donation to a very worthy cause. Myron Cope (the inventor) assigned the royalties to a hospital for children with disabilities. To me those are more classy that Dallas which seems to want to make money at the expense of the good of the league. Sharing is what makes the NFL so successful. The Cowboys threaten that -- not unlike the Yankees is baseball. Maybe dynasties are not always something for which teams should strive.

Nathant Author Profile Page :

Chancellor - one O-lineman of the Steelers 70s did admit to taking steroids...but it's important to remember that it was not against the rules at the time. Any team could have been doing it, thus you can hardly claim it was an unfair advantage.

Silverback-92 Author Profile Page :

If we restrict the question to the Super Bowl era, the answer is the Pittsburgh Steelers. As others have mentioned, perhaps best dynasty is not defined by SB championships but by being consistently competitive. If one buys this argument, a good barometer for competitiveness is divisional championships. In order of divisional champs (SB wins in parentheses), they are: 1. Pittsburgh 19(6), 2. Dallas 19(5), 3. San Fran 17(5), New England 10(3), Chicago 9(1).

 
 
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