You won’t believe this, but Tony Dungy isn’t ready to give the New England Patriots their due.
The former Indianapolis Colts coach who lost many a battle against the Patriots, including the 2004 AFC title game, is back with more completely unbiased analysis. The man who lists Tom Brady as the sixth-best quarterback of all-time isn’t ready to consider New England the greatest dynasty, either.
That honor, according to Dungy, belongs to the Cleveland Browns of the 1950s. Not the Green Bay Packers of the 1960s, the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s or the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s. The Otto Graham-led Browns, who came to power under coach Paul Brown in the All-America Football Conference that consisted of eight teams when there was no draft, no free agency and no salary cap.
“Well, you’d have to look at the longevity,” said Dungy, via MassLive.com. “… In the ’50s it was Otto Graham and the Browns and they did it for a decade, and then Packers did it for a decade, and then Dallas, and the 49ers were close in terms of doing it with two different groups — coach (Bill) Walsh passed it along to George Seifert. But to stay from 2001 to 2017, to maintain the excellence for 17 years, it’s pretty amazing. Would you say it’s better than the Browns in the 50s? Probably not, but to do it for that long period of time, it’s pretty incredible.”
The Browns won four straight AAFC championships from 1946-49 before the league merged with the NFL to form a 14-team organization that wasn’t fully integrated until 1962. The Browns then reached six straight NFL title games, five of which required zero playoff victories to reach the final, winning in 1950, 1954 and 1956. The NFL didn’t merge with the AFL and host a Super Bowl for another decade.
So, the dynasty Dungy thinks is the greatest ever finished with three NFL titles in a six-year span.
The Patriots, playing in a league where the average defensive back is bigger than the average lineman of the ’50s, with a litany of rules in place to ensure parity, have won five Super Bowls and reached eight. They’ve made 12 AFC championship game appearances since 2001, including seven straight.
Cleveland’s playoff record from 1950-55: 4-3. New England’s playoff record from 2001-18: 27-9.
But, sure, Otto Graham, whose best NFL season saw a 49.7 percent completion rate and 20 touchdowns against 24 interceptions, probably would’ve fared just as well over two decades. I see your point, Tony.
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