The Greatest NFL Franchise Debate… Steel Strong, Forever

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

It has been a while since I have unveiled one of these to the world. Brace yourself, as I am about to share Babe Ruthless’ Universal Truth #2:“The only measure of greatness is championships!”

Given the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers have won more Super Bowl championships than any other NFL franchise, this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Steelers are unquestionably the greatest franchise in the history of the NFL.

Look, I don’t like this news any more than the next non-Steeler fan, but it is a fact. Sure, Ben Roethlisberger is about as reputable right now as a Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen love child, but his team has a knack for winning the big game. Since he entered the league in 2004, he and his teammates have won two Super Bowls and will work to add a third in six years on Sunday.

When the two Super Bowl victories are added to the franchise’s four others from the mid-late 1970s, it becomes clear that the Steelers have a legacy of dominance. However, the Steelers do not simply have a legacy of winning the championship game often, rather they have won more times than any other franchise in the history of the NFL.

This is incalculably important, as championships literally mean EVERYTHING in sports. They are the reason that sports have seasons. Without a championship to declare, sports seasons would merely be a worthless series of exhibition play, a perpetual pre-season. And what is the point in that?

Championships determine who is the greatest between a group of competitors. To determine who is the greatest of all time, one simply needs to establish which competitor has won the most cumulative championships, and in the NFL that team is clearly the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I am sure there are some readers that would take issue with my insistence that the only measurement of ultimate success is winning a championship, and they might be asking themselves, “But aren’t there other meaningful indicators of greatness?” I say, “No! No there aren’t.”

That’s why I won’t even recognize an accomplishment unless it comes with a championship trophy. So take that Jonas Salk, you may have “cured polio,” but that doesn’t exactly compare with my 2008 rec league slow pitch softball championship, now does it?

Anything less than a championship victory is a loss. That has nearly always been the mantra of the New York Yankees, and it has worked well. The Yankees have accumulated 27 World Series championships – the most in MLB – which also makes them the greatest franchise in baseball. Trying to explain away failure to bring home a championship with some sort of justification is an unacceptable excuse.

Sure there are other ways that individuals can attempt to make a case for the greatness aside from championships, but they are flawed. Any statistic that measures an individual’s performance – such as a record or an individual accolade – is invalid because it reflects an aspect of performance of subjective worth. Passing touchdowns mean nothing to teams focused on the run. Being the defensive player of the year means nothing if it does not translate to wins.

Still others might point to stats like the total number of franchise wins or hall of famers, both of which would favor the Chicago Bears. The first statistic is not valid because regular season games are nothing more than a qualifier for the playoffs. They are especially meaningless as of late as we watch teams clinch a playoff berth, and then take resting players at the expense of the victory in the hopes of getting rested for the playoffs. It is a statistic that simply does not hold up.

The second statistic is merely a comparison of the individual, and not the team as a whole. For instance, a decent defensive player’s production on a team with an awful offense is sure to see a boost in stats simply because they are on the field more often, as was the case when Jason Taylor won the defensive player of the year a few years back. In general, individual player and team stats have no bearing on the greatness of a given team as they are a subjective category that may not have any bearing on the overall successfulness of a team.

There simply is no substitute for winning, and it really only matters in the playoffs. The Steelers have done that more than any other team, so like it or not they are the best until someone hoists more Lombardi Trophies in the air than dominant black and gold.

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