Pittsburgh Steelers 1970-2015: Best Team in Professional Sports In That Time Frame?
This Pittsburgh Steeler blog is an update on an earlier version from back when I started my quest to create a series of blogs on the history of all 32 NFL teams since the merger. Interrupting my process on working through all teams for two reasons.
First, the Steelers are too good of a team and have an amazing following so keeping them updated is important. Second, My friend, Joe Kuzma, is having me as a guest on his Steel City nderground podcast and wanted Steeler fans to know I appreciate him and that they should also. I’d be happier if he was putting forth his efforts to cover my team so I hope Steelers realize what they have in Joe.
Steeler Nation can count this as the 6th off-season spent as the #1 ranked team for wins in the 712 games played in the regular season since of 1970. If you are reading this and share my displeasure with the unrelenting success of this franchise (my Dad was born in Harrisburg PA … still… no love for this team) you are a true NFL fan to get past the headline and delve into this club’s greatness. If unaware, this team is in the conversation for one of the worst teams that played pro ball prior to the merger of the AFL/NFL. Started in 1933 they, as I like to point out, had a history the highlights which could fit on the side of a pencil and still be read after several sharpenings.
That ended when they became an AFC team with the Cleveland Browns & Baltimore Colts for the 1970 season. They took the ’70 and ’71 seasons to ramp up efforts but the results were the showing of all profootball teams everywhere that the Steel town in PA was pumped up and ready to change its ways. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw were key in the Steelers replacing the Green Bay Packers as the franchise every team wanted to be like. I feel compelled to digress for a bit, I like Chicago Bears slightly more than this club but its not saying much as I seem to get pleasure talking to Bears fans about how a coin toss for the 1970 draft had a huge effect on the league ever since. In 1969 the Lions opened the year in Pittsburgh and lost that game by 3. Pittsburgh opens the 2nd half of the season in Chicago and gets crushed by the Bears. That’s it, two teams with two wins on the year between them and the NFL has them flip a coin to see who would get the 1st pick in the initial draft with AFC & NFC teams on the board. The Bears are still waiting as of July 2016 for their first franchise quarterback and Pittsburgh’s pick of Bradshaw sets the stage for a franchise that would have a double-digit loss season just 4 times in the 46 since. (Denver leads League with 3)
1974 & 1975’s Super Bowl wins were followed by losses in the playoffs to the Oakland Raiders & Denver Broncos in ’76 & ’77. Back to back Champs again in 1978-’79 ended the decade dominance and it would be 1995, in a third Super Bowl vs theDallas Cowboys, that saw the team suffer its first Super Bowl loss but it climbed back into the conversation as a team worth looking at in AFC. It took another decade after that to get back to hoisting the Lamar Hunt trophy and this time Bill Cowher captured the elusive 5th ring for the team against the Seattle Seahawks. Three seasons later the third coach to win a Bowl for Pittsburgh, Mike Tomlin, gets an exciting victory over the Arizona Cardinals. They stand at 6-2 in Super Bowls going into 2016 (Packers beat them in 2010) and lead the Cowboys and San Francisco by one in the Super Bowl trophy count.
The Pittsburgh Steelers go into the 47th NFL season since the merger with a slightly decreased lead over the rest of the league in winning percentage. They took that lead in 2010 during the season that ended in Dallas with a loss to the Green Bay Packersin Super Bowl XLV. They lost 2 games in the overall standings in 2015 to the now second place Broncos as Denver shot past the Miami Dolphins & the Dallas Cowboys in winning percentage.
Since the Green Bay loss the Steelers have one playoff win but that was a big one that kept the Cincinnati Bengals from thinking they a could be getting somewhere in an effort to be relevant in the AFC North. Cleveland Browns may have found a coach that will take some of the town’s momentum to get to .500 but the Baltimore Ravens probably have the most to say about who will battle the Steelers for the division in ’16.
Here’s the bottom line Steeler fans. You own the most titles, I get that, so maybe you don’t care as much as I do to see your team earning the best regular season winning percentage since the ’70 merger. 64 games remain and you have about an 18 game lead over Denver in that race. Week 17 2020 will crown that team most prolific at the end of 50 seasons in the modern era, If Denver is that team it may be brief but I will be really proud to be able to say that in that time frame my team, on average, had the best shot of winning when it took the field.
There are about 34 games separating the Patriots (1 game behind #5 S.F.) from that #1 spot. That means there are multiple clubs in the conversation so neither team is guaranteed that title. If you owned myNFL Since 1970 book and have flipped the pages to see the outrageous rise of New England you would not be too quick to assume it’s too big a deficit. That week in 2020 seems also to be the end of 100 since the NFL started in 1920 but without a dog in that huge hunt I don’t have as much concern but I am sure I will be tuned in to that question getting answered also.
As far as the sports team over the past 4 1/2 decades that would be considered the greatest… anyone not giving the Steelers their due is not using their head. The Rooney’s have done a tremendous job of keeping fans in the game year in and out since the merger.
This article originally appeared on Scott’s website NFL Since 1970.